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10 Rules To Live, Train and Eat By

Follow these basic guidelines and you'll be in great shape!

10 Rules To Live, Train and Eat By

A good friend of mine and veteran fitness magazine editor recently asked me, "If you had to condense all of your advice on health, fitness, training, diet and supplements into just 10 take-home points, what would they be?" He wanted them to be points that anyone at any level of fitness, from a 70-year old grandmother to a 25-year old competitive bodybuilder, could use. So I took a stab at the top 10 list. 

I like these types of assignments: Boiling down health and fitness to the most critical elements. Of course, there are many details, tips and tricks that will inevitably be left out of such a list, but if you can nail these basics consistently for the long-term you'll be in great shape, literally. Most of these you may already know, but it never hurts to be reminded. My philosophy is, any fundamentally important tip or piece of advice is worth repeating many times over.

So here they are – my 10 fitness rules to abide by:

1) Be Positive

It may sound cliche, but it is absolutely critical that you keep a positive mind set and not let negative thoughts, from yourself or others, knock you off your path. This truly is the one major thing that separates those who achieve their goals from those who don't. People who reach their goals maintain a positive attitude. Sure, they may have bad moments and failures along the way, but how they react to those failures determines how successful they are. Those who stay positive in the face of adversity get back on their feet and keep climbing. This is important in every aspect of life, including your fitness goals. Whether your goal is losing 20 pounds or more, or gaining 20 pounds, staying positive will keep you progressing consistently.

I constantly hear from people on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and here on JimStoppani.com that share with me their results. Some of these people have made amazing progress in a short period. For example, some have gained over 20 pounds of lean muscle on my programs in less than 3 months. And some have lost over 20 pounds in less than 2 months. Sometimes people comment that it is simply impossible that these people achieved these results in that period of time. My response: Why would thousands of people lie about their results? They're not lying. These are examples of people who stay positive and reach results that others only see as impossible. Those people who see these results as impossible are negative thinkers and will likely never see such results or any of the results that they hope for. Stay positive and set no limits and you won't believe what you are capable of.

2) Choose Protein

The easiest trick when it comes to dieting is to choose protein. Whether your goal is fat loss or muscle building or both, focus on protein at every meal, including snacks, to keep you on mark with your diet. For breakfast, make sure you are eating eggs and don't worry about the carbs like toast or cereal or even fruit. Sure, a piece of fruit when complemented with eggs or other protein source makes a great breakfast, but when you're rushed for time, do NOT grab just an apple and call it breakfast. Hard boil a few eggs, throw them in a Ziploc baggie and take them along. THAT is a breakfast, even if there is no fruit with the eggs.

Any time of day when you don't have time for a meal, make a protein shake. That's a perfect substitute for a meal. Always keep a container of Pro JYM and a shaker bottle nearby so that you can mix up a quick shake wherever you are. When you go out to a restaurant and you're not sure what to order, do NOT order the pasta. Order a steak or chicken or fish or pork. If it's questionable about how it was cooked, don't eat the rice or potatoes that came with it; eat a side salad instead. Between meals when you're hungry and want a snack, do NOT grab pretzels or even a piece of fruit. Grab beef jerky, low-fat string cheese or a Greek yogurt instead. Stick with protein and you will lose more fat and build more muscle.

3) Change Is Good

When it comes to weight training, stop worrying about what exercise works the chest or abs or triceps the best. No ONE exercise is the best exercise for ANY muscle group. Use a variety of exercises and change them frequently. The same rule goes for rep ranges. Too many people worry about what the best rep range is for muscle growth, building strength or burning fat. Same thing applies here. You MUST change your rep ranges frequently.

This is referred to as periodization and has been proven in numerous research studies to be more effective for muscle growth and strength gains, and even fat loss, than any one specific rep range. You can see a good example of this in my Shortcut to Size or Shortcut to Shred programs right here on JimStoppani.com. But an easy way to do this is to decrease the rep range (as you increase the weight) every week over a four-week period. For example, in week 1 use 12-15 reps, in week 2 use 9-11 reps, in week 3 use 6-8 reps and in week 4 use 3-5 reps. You can then repeat that cycle with new exercises or even repeat that cycle in the reverse order with rep ranges getting higher every week.

4) HIIT It!

When it comes to cardio, stop the long, slow and steady walk or jog on the treadmill. Research confirms that high-intensity-interval training (HIIT) out performs slow and steady cardio for fat loss, performance and cardiovascular health. A good rule of thumb here is to use a 2:1 ratio of exercise to rest. You can do 30-second intervals of high-intensity exercise alternating with 15-second intervals of rest. Or do one-minute intervals of exercise with 30-second intervals of rest. What exercises should you do? Anything! If you want to run, then run. Or cycle, swim or jump rope. Or do calisthenics-type exercises like burpees, jumping jacks or mountain climbers. Or better yet, use weights and do exercises like kettlebell swings, dumbbell cleans or kettlebell snatches.

I cover HIIT extensively with sample workouts in my Complete Cardio series on the website. Check it out.

5) Recover With Sweets

There is a war on sugar at the moment. And there should be. People consume way too much sugar from soft drinks, processed foods and Starbucks drinks. High-glycemic sugars like sucrose, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup and dextrose spike insulin levels and cause you to store more body fat and burn less fat when you are sitting around on your glutes all day like most Americans do. That said, there is one time when consuming sugar is actually good for you and will not lead to fat gain: immediately after exercise. During exercise, you burn up glycogen, your body's storage form of carbs. And the main places you store glycogen are in the muscles and in the liver.

These stores become depleted after exercise. Research shows that the best way to replenish these stores is by eating high-glycemic sugars. Think fat-free candies like gummie bears, Pixy Stix or jelly beans, or add Post JYM fast carbs/dextrose to your Post JYM active matrix. If there is one time when eating sweets is good for muscle recovery and won't cause you to gain fat, why not eat up?! Plus, having this allowed treat after workouts can help you better stick to your diet the rest of the time when you shouldn't have sweets.

6) Get Fat

One problem with dietary fat is that it's calorically dense. One gram of protein or carbs has about 4 calories, whereas one gram of fat has about 8-9 calories. So fat has twice the calories as protein or carbs. That's why in the 1970s and 80s there was a war on fat. And every doctor and dietician was recommending a very low-fat diet. Now that we know there are essential fats like omega-3 and even omega-6 fats, we have realized that eating a moderate amount of fat in the diet is not only the best thing for health but also better for fat loss. It's also better for muscle growth, especially for men.

Eating a higher fat diet, especially monounsaturated and saturated fat, keeps testosterone levels higher. The only fat that you should avoid is trans fat. Your best bet for better health, better fat loss, and better muscle mass and strength gains, is to consume about 20%-30% of your total daily calories from fat with 10% from saturated fat, 10% from monounsaturated fat, and 10% from polyunsaturated fat (especially omega-3 fats, which you can find in optimal doses in Omega JYM fish oil). Or shoot for almost 0.5 grams of fat per pound of body weight.

7) Stay Active

Whether it's walking your dog, playing a pick-up basketball game or throwing the ball with your kid, do SOMETHING active. This is especially important on the days that you take off from the gym. In our modern world we spend a LOT of time sitting and doing very little movement. Research shows that this literally shuts off genes involved in fat burning. Every single day you should seek some form of activity. And when you are sitting for long hours, such as at a desk at work or at home watching television, be sure to get up and stretch or walk around a bit every 30 minutes or so.

8) Supplement With Creatine

This tip is NOT just for guys who want to build more muscle and strength. Creatine is a supplement that EVRYONE should take. The main way that creatine works is by providing energy to cells. And not just muscle cells. Creatine is also critical for supplying energy to nerve cells. That's why research shows that it helps brain function and helps to prevent depression. It's even been shown to aid heart health and protect the skin against sun damage. So anyone who wants to have better energy, better brain function and better health should take creatine. It's present in both Pre JYM and Post JYM active matrix in addition to other proven effective supplemental ingredients like branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), beta-alanine, betaine, taurine and glutamine.

9) Take A Multivitamin

Research shows that those who train intensely lose many critical vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, chromium, selenium and copper. This is due to factors such as their loss in sweat and urine as well as their increased use for energy production during the workout and for recovery and protein synthesis following the workout. This is why it's critical to add a multivitamin supplement to your diet.

Being deficient in any vitamins or minerals will hamper your performance, fat loss and muscle growth. Many doctors and dieticians claim that a multivitamin is not necessary if you eat a well-rounded diet. But NO ONE eats a perfectly well-rounded diet, even those with the best intentions. That's why I created my multivitamin product Vita JYM. It provides all the critical vitamins and minerals you need outside of calcium (which you'll find in Pro JYM) and zinc and magnesium (which are in ZMA JYM).

10) Cheat!

Eating healthy is important. Focusing on quality protein, vegetables and healthy fats will help you feel better, look better, perform better and live longer. But there's nothing more depressing than people who are so strict with their diets that they never take a moment to enjoy themselves. Life is short, and while you want to live it healthy, you also need to make sure you enjoy yourself. That's why I highly recommend that you allow yourself one cheat meal each week. And I mean ANYTHING you have been craving. Maybe it's pizza and beer. Maybe it's an Italian dinner with wine. Maybe it's your mom's homemade mac 'n cheese. And don't forget dessert! Craving donuts? Ice cream? Pie? Have it! Not all of it, but pick one good meal and one dessert that you've been craving and go to town!

If you dangle that carrot in front of your face knowing that come Saturday, if you stick to your diet you get a reward, you will be better at policing yourself and not cheating. I find that when people have a scheduled cheat meal at the end of the week, they want to stick to their diet so that they really feel like they deserved that cheat meal. And then once you have it, it's easier to go back to the diet for another week until your next cheat meal.

And you know what, it makes food taste a lot better when you are not eating anything any time you want to. This cheat meal will cause no damage to your diet, as long as you stuck with the diet during the week. So why not have a guilt-free cheat meal?! You only live once!

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