How about Healthy First?

It’s a New Year and everyone is excited about 2020. Lots of perspective about where you were ten years ago. Ten years ago, I moved to my current city and had to start my practice back up from nothing – not knowing a soul in the city besides my girlfriend. Thankfully I met a ton of great people and today I’m thriving and well.

One thing I read about a lot in January is people wanting to get back into good habits, which 90% of the time means the gym. They resolve to lose weight, set goals and really kill it for this new decade ahead. Well, not to be a David Downer, but here’s the truth: 70 percent of them will fail by mid-February!

Here’s a couple of strategies I always tell my clients (and anyone who asks me) that over my two decades doing this job I have always found more effective than resolutions.

  1. Focus on health FIRST, weight loss or body changes after that. 

So many people want to get into shape, they decide to go on the latest fad diet or new book they read over the holidays. This usually leads to drastic changes that aren’t sustainable once you get back into your normal routines. Or, life gets in the way and then you have to take a break and get discouraged and quit.

Here’s my strategy to fix that – focus on HEALTH first. Getting healthier means eating better (cleaning up your nutrition), exercising moderately but not all out, and then focusing as well on things like sleep, overall stress reduction and creating positive habits that make you feel better, not worse.

The good thing is, that if you do these things that weight loss and better body composition will come along as a by-product. It’s guaranteed over time.


2. Make one change at a time.

If I was going to prioritize what you should change, it would go in this order:

Eat better. Sleep better. Cut down on stress. Exercise.

Yes, exercise is LAST on that list. Why? Because exercise means ADDING something, not REMOVING something. For example, eating better can mean simply eliminating sugar and alcohol. This will have a profound effect on most people. All you have to do is simply NOT EAT IT. Sleeping better means that you simply have to NOT watch that last episode of Netflix and go to bed earlier. Stress reduction means you have to NOT react poorly to when someone gets you upset or things don’t go your way.

Exercise is important, for sure – but if you simply eliminated starchy carbs, alcohol and most sugars from your diet you would lose ten pounds in a month. I’ve seen it dozens of times.

So change one thing – make it stick for at least 2-3 weeks – then change something else. And that brings me to my third point:

3. Focus on long term change and goals.

I tell my clients all of the time, we want to PREPARE you for what you are going to experience in 3-4 months. In the spring, you will be going outside more. In the summer, you may take up a new activity. For my athletes, they are typically in an off-season mode and focusing on re-establishing enhanced strength for upcoming seasons.

Think about where you want to be in six months. It is kind of like if your car starts to slide in the mounds of snow in my city. You look into the turn and focus on what’s ahead, not on what is going on around you. And inevitably you will come out of it straight and further ahead.  Don’t worry about January, except for establishing the proper habits (with SMALL CHANGES) that you can be consistent with over time.

I hope that you all have a fantastic first couple of weeks of 2020 and if you ever want any information or to ask questions, I’m always happy to help you! Reach out at, on Linkedin or find me at @strengthottawa on Twitter.

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