Have you ever heard of the big rocks, small rocks & sand analogy? Here it goes―its relevance will become clearer as I go, I promise!:
Imagine you have a jar, which you need to fill with big rocks, small rocks and sand. How would you go about making sure everything fits in the jar?
If you start with the sand, and then pile the small rocks in, you’ll soon find out that you don’t have enough space remaining to fit the big rocks in the jar. If, on the other hand, you start by putting the big rocks in, making sure each and every one finds its place, you’ll be surprised to find that you can then wiggle the small rocks in, and then the sand can easily come in last, filling the gaps that are left.
Sure, but how’s that relevant to your life? To your health and fitness?
MISSING THE FOREST FOR THE TREES
Consider the following conversation I’ve had recently:
― Do you think protein shakes could help me?
― It depends, can you typically tell me what a typical meal looks like for you?
― Meh, I tend to skip meals. And then I binge on chips and soda all night long.
Or this one:
― What’s a good source of carbs? I don’t think I should be eating pastries as often as I do.
― Indeed. Have you thought of fruit?
― Right! I never eat fruit! Do you think I should eat green apples instead of red apples? I heard they’re lower on the glycemic index.
And even this one:
― Can you recommend a supplement for energy? I’m tired all the time!
― How many hours do you typically sleep each night?
― Oh, no more than six!
Can you spot a common thread going on there?
Each and every one of these situations involves someone disregarding the major missing pieces, and looking for quick fixes or magic solutions to alleviate their issues.
Of course, that’s exactly what the bulk of the fitness, diet & wellness industry wants! Because it gets to sell all kinds of supplements which it has convinced people that they needed. And so people keep buying, and hopping from one solution to the next, as they fail to see the results you’re looking for.
Do you recognize yourself here at all?
So what’s the problem? Focusing on the sand instead of the big rocks.
Without the big rocks in place, no amount of fancy sand will help everything fit in the jar. In fact, it will make it increasingly harder. You need to turn your thinking around so you can stop wasting your time and your money. You need to get your big rocks in place.
BIG ROCK #1: SOUND & SIMPLE NUTRITION
Forget supplements. Forget counting calories and macros. Start by creating most of your meals around this super simple principle: protein & produce.
Yes, that simple. I realize that it’s not particularly flashy, but there it is.
I’m perfectly serious. When you’re able to ensure that the vast majority of your meals and snacks follow that principle, you’ll actually see a difference in how you look and feel.
BIG ROCK #2: CONSISTENT & ENJOYABLE MOVEMENT
Partake in strength training at least twice a week. Make sure to get some movement in every single day. Not super sexy, right?
Yet, until you’ve got this down, you may try to optimize all you want, but you’ll likely be wasting energy. You have tons to gain by nailing the basics down first. Again, let me repeat: strength training at least twice a week, and movement every single day.
(And no, in case you were wondering, one long and intense session on a given day followed by several days of inactivity doesn’t count. That’s not how it works.)
BIG ROCK #3: ADEQUATE RECOVERY & STRESS MANAGEMENT
First things first, go the f*** to sleep.
I’m not kidding. You need to tell off your inner toddler and do everything that’s in your power to get to that magical 7-8 hours of sleep per night. Your body needs it. So does your soul.
Furthermore, despite how much you’d rather ignore it, stress management is a huge part of looking and feeling better, and you need to actively address it. From recovery practices like leisure walks, foam rolling and warm baths to doing the work required to get to the root of stress and address it, you owe it to yourself to include it in your strategy.
It’ll pay off big time.
Always start with the big rocks.
The beauty is that, once you’re actually focusing on them instead of being distracted with ever-changing quick fixes, you’ll find that they’re not only totally implementable, but that they actually pay off so much more in the long run.
Unless you’d rather keep wasting your time and money.