Why I Do "Less" (Eat, Exercise and Work) for Better Results

My general lifestyle theme for the last decade (and on this blog) has been one of practicing more simplicity in all aspects of my life.

Not because I’m trying to neglect myself of anything (that’s not that point of a simple lifestyle), but rather quite the opposite. It is because of what a more simple life can bring in return as far as happiness, sense of freedom, reduced stress and even more results.

Trust me, I still want to accomplish and do many things…but I’ve found that by simplifying the steps to get there, those results can happen quicker. I’m much more focused and efficient at what I do.

Sounds like something worth trying right? So here’s some of my reasons I continue with simple eating, exercise and working. Hopefully it will inspire you to try something new and simple in your lifestyle approach as well!

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Why I Eat “Less”

By eating “less” I’m not really talking about calorie restriction or “starving” myself, but I mean in the amount (frequency) of meals.

I like to eat when I do…no one will ever say I don’t eat (if they watch me put stuff down).

However I’m not focused on eating all day, and that has lead me to many benefits that I wouldn’t have believed if you told me 10+ years ago (as I was into the whole 6x/day mini meal philosophy…which I’m thankfully not anymore).

  • I’ve been able to stay “leaner” and “healthier” – If you’ve read my stuff in the past on the benefits of intermitent feeding/fasting, you will know that I’m already big into that concept. But honestly I do feel better. Back when I was in my late 20s I was probably around 210 lbs (of what I “thought” was more muscle) but my knees/shoulder hurt more (inflammation), I had more fatigue, and just felt like I was falling apart. Fast forward to my late 30s and now I have no more knee/shoulder inflammation issues, dropped to @ 185lbs, feel lighter/faster and have a heck of alot more daily energy.
  • I eat better quality foods – When I thought I “needed” to eat all day long, then I didn’t care where the calories came from…as long as I got them in. Meal bars/shakes, PB&J sandwiches, anything. Now that I only have a few meals a day (and no snacks), I tend to focus more on the quality vs the quantity. Aiming to eat more higher nutrient foods instead of anything that has calories. A funny thing happened too, I tend to need less calories to even just maintain my weight. Maybe it’s more about having an efficient digestive process with the high quality of food you give it, vs excess calories from lower quality sources that are less “used” (digested/absorbed). I’m not always 100% perfect, but that was never my goal anyways.
  • No more “snacking” mentality – I only eat “meals”, I don’t snack. I know eating more often does not “speed up” the metabolism. Only exception may be a small piece of fruit if I feel I want one. That snacking mentality is usually where all the hidden calories come from anyways. Who needs it?
  • I like feeling more alert – A big meal puts me into relaxation mode, but the longer times between them I feel more alert. I like this especially in the morning. I get more stuff done, I focus, and when it is time to eat…then I relax after. Kind of like a predator on the hunt for the day, alert and aware. Able to chase down the prey (not that I chase my food around), and then relax to enjoy the meal. I’d rather eat like the predator, then graze like the prey.
  • I don’t buy any “diet” books – As why would I need one now? I never really “needed” one but always read them to understand what was being said out there. That is no more. I know what works…and a complicated approach is not the answer anyways for me.

So those are my reasons. I have more energy, stay lean with ease, feel healthier and enjoy eating more higher quality of foods. Plus not being focused on eating all day frees up how much time I have to worry about shopping, cooking and just chewing.

I can enjoy eating when it is time to eat, but outside of that…there is more to life to go see and do!

It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential ~ Bruce Lee

I’m a fan of Bruce Lee quotes (like the one above). Simple yet powerful. Here is also a fun video I found that gives more of his philosophy.

Why I Exercise “Less”

I’ve always been active since I was a little kid, and I still enjoy doing it today. When it comes to exercise (“working out”), I used to spend hour+ in a gym 5x/week.

No more of that.

My workouts are now much shorter, and I like it that way for many reasons.

  • I focus more on intensity – Knowing how intensity generates a better post workout hormonal response keeps me from thinking I need a longer workout. Now I keep it quick and intense and it’s more fun that way to me as well. No more long and boring workouts and “cardio” is no longer a priority.
  • I do the exercises that matter – I studied about every possible exercise known (and spent $1000s in the process) along with how to use every thing that was in those huge fitness equipment catalogs. What happened? When I first started out I thought I was a “smart” trainer…but in reality I was more “distracted”. Soon I realized that and changed it up. No more worrying about the “4 best ways to hit your biceps”…instead it was about how to master a pullup/chinup. I now focus on the exercises that give the most “bang for the buck” and don’t even worry about the rest.
  • Progression becomes important – You know why most people never get good results over time? They lack progression. It’s not there! They may be doing the same amount of weight 3 months later…so why would you think your muscles needs to grow? Progression is how muscles continue to be challenged. Same goes even if your focus is fat loss. The body adapts and becomes efficient, so it needs a new stimulus to jump into action with both feet (like release/burn more fat from a workout).
  • I stay more consistent – What good is a super complex workout strategy if you just burn out on it? None. I stay more consistent with my workouts now keeping them shorter and more intense. My excuses don’t fly anymore now that I can do them at home too. Consistency is the key ingredient to staying in shape (sounds simple…but yet many don’t do this).
  • I don’t buy fitness magazines – While some “may” contain 10% good info, the rest in there is rehashed and overhyped workout information. Heck, even the “fitness pros” in the magazines usually don’t do the workouts that are listed in the article with them. Those magazines are just distracting you from focusing on the exercises that matter, and then just pushing the intensity with them.

Progression (with intensity) and consistency. Those are the real keys to success over the long run. Forget how to get in shape “quick” in 6 weeks…that’s a marketing pitch to sell something. Instead focus on what simple workout you can do today, and then don’t get distracted by the rest.

Never confuse motion with action ~ Benjamin Franklin

Why I Work “Less”

When I talk about working less, I don’t mean not getting anything done (and laying around to just goof off). I’m talking about forcing myself to get more done in a shorter amount of time.

When do you think we typically get the most done? Here’s one time, the day before you go on vacation. In that day you know that you only have so much time to get certain things done, so you just do them. You ignore other things (distractions) that aren’t going to help, and you focus on what needs to be finished.

Why not use this mentality all the time?

We all have enough time during a day, it’s just how we “choose” to use it that separates us.

I’ve also found that if I give myself all day to get something done, I get distracted very easily and it just draws itself out. Now if I give myself a short period to get that same work done (a deadline), I focus and finish. Shut off the phone, don’t check Facebook, not looking at email…etc.

This is what I like to call the “burst” method. I work hard and focused in “bursts” whether it be 30 min or 2 hours…but set my limits to get stuff done (like writing this article).

Multitasking is a mindset that I don’t think works. It can’t help, as you are just jumping from one task to the next without any real focus.

Instead I choose to “single-task”. I focus on one thing only, give it my undivided attention, get it done, and then move on.

You also need to make time off to let your mind and body recover. Work hard, play hard as they say.

In the living laboratory of sports, we learned that the real enemy of high performance is not stress, which, paradoxical as it may seem, is actually the stimulus for growth. Rather, the problem is the absence of disciplined, intermittent recovery. Chronic stress without recovery depletes energy reserves, leads to burnout and breakdown, and ultimately undermines performance. Rituals that promote oscillation—rhythmic stress and recovery—are the second component of high performance. Repeated regularly, these highly precise, consciously developed routines become automatic over time. ~ The Making of a Corporate Athlete, Harvard Business Review, 2001

So find ways in your life in which you can focus more, and simplify down to the essential tasks that matter. Too many of us may just be jumping around without focus and wasting time with too many distractions. It is up to you to take back control, and ignore what you don’t need (or just control the amount of time you spend doing it).

I’m going to end with a good quote from the book Less by Marc Lesser (a very good read into being more productive with work…by doing “less”).

Our daily incessant busyness — too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce a to-do list and tick off items by each day’s end — seem to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us. But if we approach our days in a different way, we can consciously change this out-of-control pattern. It requires only the courage to do less. This may sound easy, but doing less can actually be very hard. Too often we mistakenly believe that doing less makes us lazy and results in a lack of productivity. Instead doing less helps us savor what we do accomplish. We learn to do less of what is extraneous and engage in fewer self defeating behaviors, so we craft a productive life that we truly feel good about.

So tell me, what are YOU going to do right NOW…to help simplify your life and make it a more productive and enjoyable one? Putting off till tomorrow is just another way of not taking control right now.

CC Photo by Ihtatho

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