There’s not much that’s more confusing than navigating a fitness journey. The entire fitness industry is a giant contradiction — likely by design.
When we set out to “get healthy” or “get in shape,” it seems there are common misconceptions that are accepted as fact, and often we find out these were all wrong when a new study is published. So it’s really hard to know where to start or who to trust.
Enter Jordan Syatt, one of our very favorite fitness influencers.
Syatt is a personal strength and fitness coach who has been featured in a variety of outlets, such as Men’s Health and Fitness magazine. He’s coached big names and celebrities, but we think he really shines at breaking down intimidating and overwhelming fitness advice for the average person.
He recently shared nine things he wished he knew before embarking on his fitness journey, and we think it’s the perfect guide for anyone trying to decipher what is worth worrying about when beginning their own journey to better health and fitness.
9 Simple Habits For People Who Find All Those Health And Fitness “Rules” Confusing
1. Step up your steps.
Syatt recommends a simple yet impactful approach to exercise — aim for 7,500 steps daily.
A 2021 study conducted at the University of Sydney found that reaching a daily count of 7,000 steps boosts your physical health and reduces the risk of premature death. And older women may find their daily step goal can be even lower, with a 2019 study revealing benefits for older women can be had from averaging as few as 4,400 steps daily.
2. Don’t forget your fiber.
Next, nutrition plays an essential role in our overall health, with fiber being a key component.
The Yale School of Medicine stated that there has been an 8% increase in advanced-stage colorectal cancer. Additionally, the diagnosis of individuals under 55 years of age has risen from 11% in 1995 to 20%, equating to one in five individuals. Notably, genetic syndromes often contribute to colon cancer in younger patients, accounting for 10% to 20% of cases.
While these statistics are concerning, it is important to focus on more manageable aspects. By limiting smoking, alcohol, and avoiding processed foods, you can significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer.
In the words of Syatt, “Fiber helps with fat loss, too. But [expletive], not everything is about fat loss.”
3. Keep your diet simple and enjoyable.
According to Syatt, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to diets.
Some of the healthiest countries in the world, such as Singapore and Switzerland, have very different diets. All of this to say, the key to a healthy diet isn’t specific food, but specific nutrition.
Focus on incorporating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, unsaturated fats, minimum salt, and less sugar for an optimal balanced diet.
4. Get strength training in, but don’t let it overwhelm you.
Syatt stresses the use of strength training for maximum health benefits. He recommends two to four workout days per week, 20-45 minutes per session, and three to five exercises with two to three sets each.
“It doesn’t take a lot of strength training to maximize the health benefits you get from it,” Syatt says.
To add to this, the CDC recommends working out every major muscle group twice a week and using suitable resistance levels that tire your muscles after 12-15 repetitions.
5. Detoxify your social circle.
Beyond diet and exercise, the influence of negative people on your mental health is significant.
Negativity correlates to worsening anxiety and depression. Additionally, it can impact your physical health by raising your blood pressure and making it more difficult to recover from illness.
“If you’re hanging out with people who (stress you out), it’s hurting your health,” Syatt says, while also pointing out that people who live the longest all have reduced stress in common.
6. Work on mobility and flexibility.
Incorporating stretches into your everyday routine enhances your athletic performance and reduces your risk of injury. Additionally, stretches help relieve stress, improve posture, and reduce falls.
The most important part of mobility and flexibility is consistency, with daily stretches ideally targeting major muscle groups.
“Living longer is a good goal. But living longer with a higher quality of life is a better goal,” says Syatt. “Don’t neglect stretching.”
7. Don’t sleep on getting good sleep.
The importance of quality sleep cannot be underestimated.
“Consistent, high-quality sleep is one of the ‘magic pills’ everyone says they want, but nobody actually takes,” Syatt says.
With numerous health benefits, quality sleep impacts your metabolism and is closely linked to weight gain or weight loss. Additionally, low-quality sleep has been linked to cancer, injuries, poor brain health, and an increased risk of glaucoma.
It is recommended that you get at least seven hours of sleep for those ages 18 to 60 years old.
8. Eat organic if you want, but don’t stress about it.
Syatt challenges the notion that organic foods aren’t that important. Stating, “If you can’t afford organic food, don’t sweat it. You aren’t poisoning yourself or your kids.”
There is some truth to this statement. Organic diets do lead to less pesticide and antibiotic exposure, but nutritionally they are about the same.
In addition, there’s no concrete study that proves organic foods lead to healthier children.
9. Forgive and apologize.
“Holding on to hate is poison for your body and mind,” Syatt says and emphasizes the importance of forgiveness and apologies, stating they are both essential for your health.
Research shows forgiveness is associated with lower levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, reduced substance abuse; higher self-esteem; and greater life satisfaction. Although this is great, forgiveness is often easier said than done.
If you are having difficulties forgiving, Harvard Health recommends that you use the REACH method— Recall, Empathize, Altruistic Gift, Commit, and Hold — to foster forgiveness and reap its many benefits.
Figuring out how to get fit or stay in shape shouldn’t be as complicated as it seems to be. Syatt’s to-the-point advice takes the guessing out of getting healthier.
Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career and family topics.