Published June 01, 2011
We live in a world of quick fixes when it comes to losing weight and looking good. With Americans spending $40 billion a year on everything from pills and shakes to pre-packaged meals and cellulite creams, we’re obsessed with buying almost anything to drop a few. Just don’t try to sell any of those products to Tony Horton.
If you don’t know who Tony Horton is, maybe you should. He is one of the hottest names in fitness as the creator of P90X, the at-home extreme fitness DVD program that has swept the nation and sold more than three million copies. He is also the author of Bring It—a lifestyle guide designed to whip you into shape. But what makes him different from almost any other exercise guru?
We asked him for his best advice on how to really “bring it.”
Exercise for the Right Reasons
First things first, you need to ask yourself if you are ready to make a change in your life and commit to it. Horton said hopping on the Stairmaster for 20 minutes three times a week is a start, and better than nothing, but is not going to give you the level of fitness essential for a healthy life.
Why are you making this change? Horton said if it is just to be thinner, you need to reevaluate yourself.
“Get away from the whole aesthetics factor. It shouldn’t be about eating foods that will help you be smaller later. It doesn’t matter how small you are—the fitness is what matters,” he said.
Instead, Horton said to concentrate on all the other benefits of exercise, and if you lose a few pounds in the process—that’s a bonus.
“If I exercise today and eat well, I turn back the clock. Cells will grow stronger, my immune system will function better and improve my quality of life. Memory will improve, I will have less stress and feel better,” he added.
Don’t Put Garbage in Your Mouth
Most people will tell you that healthy eating can be the most difficult part of getting into shape. Counting calories, weighing food and eating packaged diet foods don’t translate to a lifestyle most of us can stick to. Horton said he believes it’s as simple as this—“Don’t put garbage in your mouth.”
“Nine times out of 10, almost everyone knows the difference between healthy and not healthy food. We all know soda and doughnuts are not good, but we eat them anyway. We are unconscious eaters,” he said.
Horton’s program starts with a cleanse to get the body functioning efficiently by eating mainly fruits and vegetables, cutting out sugar and alcohol, and of course processed foods.
“Ultimately the most important thing is to put healthy whole foods in your mouth. I have never counted a calorie in my life. I just make sure there are fruits and veggies on my plate every time I eat,” he said.
Take It Easy on Yourself
Hearing that people shouldn’t beat themselves up may sound surprising coming from someone as dedicated to fitness as Horton. But he claims America’s obsession with perfection is what causes us to fail.
“If you feel like you can’t do this, it’s OK to hit the pause button. The reason why so many people struggle is we have too many perfectionists. Who cares if you had a chocolate chip cookie? As long as you are in the game and participated, don’t beat yourself up,” he said.
Taking it easy also includes physical rest.
“Stress and not enough sleep will eventually kill your mojo, and you are more likely to fail. But if you have restful sleep, you will be able to sustain and be less stressed out,” he said.
Stick With It
So you’ve decided to change your lifestyle—you’re exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep. But how can you keep it up? Horton said the main thing is to understand how important it is in your life. But he also said he has a fool-proof way to stick with your exercise regimen—get a calendar and hang it on the refrigerator. Write down at the beginning of each month exactly what time you are going to work out every day, and as the days go on, cross out each day with a red pen. Sound silly? There is a method behind the madness.
“If you have already scheduled it like other appointments in your life, it is on there and it is about guilting yourself into doing something for yourself. Then you cross it out. It really works. It’s the simple techniques you follow and are able to stick to,” he said.
Call it being lazy, call it falling off the wagon, call it taking a break—whatever you call it, it means making excuses as to why you are not living the healthy lifestyle you have the potential to live. And Horton said “winging it” will get you nowhere.
“Eighty percent of the people who say they don’t have enough time are full of crap. What they are saying is they don’t like it, and they don’t want to—that is the thing that drives me the most crazy—what people are doing to themselves is slow motion suicide,” he said.
Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People
How many times have you been out for happy hour and tried your best to make healthy choices, only to get heckled by your friends who are trying to get you to dive into the beer and nachos? According to Horton, you might want to think about getting some new friends.
“If you spend time with super-fit people who are getting up the next morning to run a marathon, you aren’t going to have a doughnut and a glass of wine. But if you are surrounded by people who don’t care, then you’re not going to keep your act together,” he said.
Horton emphasized having a rock-solid plan to be prepared for others to try and make you eat, drink or not exercise to make themselves feel better.
“Misery loves company. You need something powerful in your life to combat the negative things that are surrounding you,” he said.