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What's a Key Ingredient For Health and Fitness?

Austin Arthur talks with his brother and business partner Zander Arthur, Co-Owner and Head Coach at Gymnastics USA, Winter Garden.

It is no secret that proper eating and daily exercise are critical for health and general fitness. However, if these benefits are so obvious, why are they not at the top of our priority lists?

My brother and business partner, Zander Arthur, is the Co-Owner and Head Coach at Gymnastics USA, Winter Garden. He has coached hundreds of gymnasts over the last 17 years, both men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, ages 3 to 18 years old. He has also worked with many Olympic coaches and gymnasts, all of which have helped him to formulate his coaching style and technique. So not only is Zander an elite sports instructor in our community but he is also one of the most healthy and fit people I know.

6 days a week he rises before 4:00 am to get to Gymnastics USA where he executes his personal workout before the day starts, I am fortunate to be part of this routine Monday through Friday where he also leads me in exercise. When it was requested that I write an article about health and fitness, I knew exactly who to contact. On the latest episode of my Winter Garden show, “After Thought” we sat down to discuss the subject of this article.

IF THE BENEFITS OF PROPER EATING AND EXERCISE ARE SO OBVIOUS, WHY DO SO MANY OF US STRUGGLE WITH MAKING THEM A PRIORITY?
I think it is because we do not identify the actual problem. The problem is not the dislike for these things or a lack of understanding their benefits… the problem is discipline. You see, discipline is not exclusive to exercise and proper eating, most people think they just haven’t found the right workout, the right diet, the right time of the day to make this “fitness thing” work.

However, in reality, the only thing you haven’t figured out is discipline. As a whole, we lack discipline in many areas… our marriages, friendships, studies, financials, cleanliness, and so on. But the one that is not as easily concealed from a lack of discipline is our diet and exercise; because when we do not workout and do not eat right, we get fatter- there is no way around that.

Therefore, you can see it in the mirror, and everyone else can see it too! It is easier to conceal any number of your other discipline issues but this one is very visible to all. That is why when we say to ourselves, “well I’m just not a diet and exercise type of person!”, you are just lying to yourself, you are not a disciplined person! Realize this, you don’t have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to exercise and be healthy, you just have to be disciplined. 

FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS, HUMANS HAVE EXISTED WITHOUT DIET PLANS AND FITNESS CENTERS. HOW CAN THESE THINGS BE THIS CRITICAL IF THEY ARE SO RELATIVELY NEW TO SOCIETY?
In modernity, the past 75 years, life is extremely easy. For example, life got very easy with the advent of fast food and is now it is even easier that fast food is delivered to your door, without even making physical contact with a single human being! All just so you never have to miss a single second of your favorite mini-series streaming on your “smart” TV. Back in the day, exercise wasn’t a necessity because both men and women had physically strenuous lives; for most of mankind’s existence only the very rich became what we would call overweight! Therefore, unless you do something like install drywall or handle a jack hammer for a living, exercise should be part of your daily life. Just like brushing your teeth, it’s a mandatory task if you want to live longer, feel better, and just be happier. 

YOU SAY DISCIPLINE IS THE ACTUAL PROBLEM. WHAT IS DISCIPLINE IN YOUR OWN WORDS AND HOW DOES ONE BECOME A DISCIPLINED PERSON?
This is something all my gymnasts can answer: discipline is doing the things you should do even when you don’t want to.

You know that you need to wake up on time, you know that you need to brush your teeth, you know that you need to prepare your clothes and meals for the day, you know you need to exercise, you know need to reach out to your friends and loved ones, you know you need to work hard at your job… but something always gets in the way! What is “that”? It is emotion! We say those disgusting-vile words, “I don’t feel like it”… well, my answer to you is too bad!

Don’t let emotions control your actions. You know what you need to do, so do it! I will tell you what: you will never regret it. You will never regret doing the things you should do, like getting out of bed on time. 

I LIKE THAT STATEMENT ABOUT NOT REGRETTING. HOWEVER, WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL? ISN’T IT GOOD THAT PEOPLE DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO?
No! Because the average person does not know what they want. They think they want to feel good all the time through entertainment, food, physical relations, or even worse- drugs and overuse of alcohol. To me such a world where one receives pleasure 24/7 is a place in Dante’s Inferno. Everyone, I mean everyone, wants to be healthy, look good, have financial freedom, have a great spouse, have successful children, and so on. But none of those things, I mean none, are accomplished through pleasure, only pain. That is the pain of discipline. But guess what? The pain of discipline hurts far less than the pain of regret!

Regret can create a vicious cycle. For example, when you sleep in, you are not only late for your day, but you also feel bad for your actions. So when you rush to work you grab some fatting garbage along the way to make yourself feel better and because you are in a hurry and are feeling hungry. Then at work, your stomach is all messed up, you feel disorganized, so you need something so that you don’t hate life so much. That is when you grab that donut sitting in the staff lounge, and once again it is just to try and make yourself feel better. Later that day you get a sugar crash and want to go home, so you slack off a lot at work. Then, since you had such an immeasurable day and felt kind of guilty for being un-productive, you want to make yourself feel better again so you eat more garbage and start watching something absolutely useless on that “smart” phone of yours. It does not end there… you stay up late too because the entertainment is good, maybe kick back a few beers as you switch to the Netflix. So you sleep in the next day because you are a bit hungover and “feeling gross”. Then BAM, the cycle continues all because the regret of sleeping in.

Although, none of that contributed anything to what you actually want out of your life. That is why delayed satisfaction is what makes one happy in life, not instant. “Discipline Equals Freedom”, says one of my favorite podcasters, Jocko Willink. 

I AM SURE YOU SOLD MANY AT THIS POINT. SO, WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE FOR PEOPLE THAT WANT TO BE MORE DISCIPLINED?
Be honest with yourself and write down all the things you should do on a daily basis. Once writing them down find an extremely practical way to execute them. Start very small and easy! Now when it’s time to execute and you “don’t feel like it” -such as waking up on time, exercising, or meal prepping- don’t start making excuses for yourself! Instead, ask yourself a simple question out loud, “will I regret doing this?”

I promise, if you are honest with yourself, and stifling your emotions, the answer will assuredly be no.

WHAT IS YOUR ONE WORKOUT ADVICE FOR PEOPLE JUST STARTING OUT?
Just start! Carve out 30 minutes every morning, 5 days a week, first thing in the morning! Don’t exercise mid-day or the end of the day, someone will interrupt you, someone will distract you, or even more commonly, you will cancel on yourself!

First thing in the morning, get up, splash some water on your face, and do something! It can be as simple as walking for 30 minutes at the park, doing basic yoga, or just stretching. Then I recommend, following a guru you can relate to on social media or reading a book like “Beginner’s Guide to Weight Lifting,”  it truly doesn’t matter what you do, so long as you do it! 

WHAT IS YOUR DIETING ADVICE?
Five days a week (your workdays) eat clean! Two days a week (your weekend) eat like a normal person. During those workdays, make all your own meals! Let me give a list of “all the time”, “sometimes”, and “never” for those 5 days a week:


ZANDER’S RECOMMENDATION FOR 5 DAYS A WEEK EVERY WEEK:

ALL THE TIME:
Egg whites
Chicken
Turkey
Fish
Lean beef
Vegetables

SOMETIMES
Bread
Rice
Noodles
Pretzels

NEVER
Butter
Cheese
Oils
Nuts
Batter
Low grade meat
Mayonnaise
Chicken skin
Turkey skin
Sodas
Candy
Chocolate
Whole milk
Fatty dressings

On the weekends eat what you like, but it is never okay to go too crazy!

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