Warren Buffett’s Top Secrets to Get Fit Fast! (and insight to Kortney’s sordid past)

 In Blog, Dublin

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As I was procrastinating writing this blog post, I stumbled upon this article about Warren Buffett and how he became the world’s richest man. As I skimmed the article, I realized it was concordant with the topic I was currently mulling over for this post! What does Warren Buffett have to do with getting fit fast? The secret lies in his approach to how he amassed his personal fortune (he’s estimated to be worth over $60 billion, btw!).

Intrigued? (Even if you’re not, read on.)

As noted in the article, one of the main keys to his success was keeping it simple and using time to his advantage, focusing on the long game–patiently relying on compound interest to grow his smart investments over the course of 60+ years. By following a slow and steady and smart approach to growing his wealth, Buffett can now boast being one of the richest men in the world! He did not rely on any ‘get rich quick’ schemes or gimmicks. He relied on time and patience.

Huh. Good for him. So, how does that apply to fitness and where are those secrets to GET FIT FAST?!

Ha! It’s a trick! (In case you hadn’t guessed that yet). Basically, unless you have always been an athlete or into physical fitness from a wee age–which probably only applies to a small percentage of people–attempting to ‘get fit fast’ may ultimately get you nowhere fast in the long term. Worst case scenario you may even end up WORSE off than when you started–think yo-yo dieting, overuse injuries, or simple burnout and falling off the wagon into a deep abyss of despair. Sigh.

As holiday season descends and New Year’s resolutions loom, loads of studies and research show that most diets fail. Most fitness programmes fizzle. And by year’s end only 8% compliance to resolutions is reported, according to research cited from the Journal of Clinical Psychology. This post isn’t meant to rehash the evidence or statistics behind poor long term adherence to fitness programmes/diets or to speculate WHY fitness programmes/diets may fail in the long term. Nor am I going into detail HOW to stay the path and become a success story, although I highly recommend this well written and thoroughly referenced article elaborating on these points if you desire.

In a nutshell, behaviour psychologists attribute a lot of this poor adherence to people attempting to do too much too soon, becoming overwhelmed with the sheer volume of changes, and becoming EXHAUSTED by so much effort. It’s just too hard and stressful to maintain a constant fight — like day trading penny stocks (not that I really know anything about the world of finance, but I bet that’s how Mr. Buffet would see it). But what if you slowly phase in the little daily habits you’d like to see in your life and watch as the acquisition of each new positive behaviour gradually forces OUT the old habits that no longer serve you? Rather than struggling to battle an OLD NEGATIVE behaviour, what if you shift the focus to adopting a NEW POSITIVE behaviour to take it’s place? Then gradually over time, just as with Buffett’s compound interest, you might find that each new good habit feeds into and builds on a previous one, collectively adding up to permanent changes that might dramatically transform your life and your health if given enough time to develop.

Gradual changes over time will pay off.

What do I mean by gradual changes? Just *how* gradual should these changes be? Some experts suggest making one tiny change consistently for 2 weeks before adding in a new change. Others recommend a full month to turn a positive behaviour into a habit. I don’t think there’s a definitive answer, and if you’re serious about playing the long game, for some of us, it may take years of gains and losses to finally acquire the diverse portfolio of healthy habits you desire. Yes, I said YEARS. Not days. Not weeks. Not months. The ‘long game’ could take YEARS.

Hey, it took Warren Buffett 60+ years of patiently waiting on his money to grow!

Sure, maybe there are thousands of people out there who have completely overhauled and transformed their health and fitness after one big ‘aha’ moment and managed to sustain a fit healthy lifestyle for the long term. But just like striking it rich in the lottery, while it may be great initially, for most people such a dramatic shift leads to bankruptcy after squandering their winnings on lavish vacations and pink flamingo lawn ornaments. So remember Warren Buffett’s billions and the bigger picture of the whole rest of your life. You may have 60+ years remaining on this planet–why do you have to get everything perfect RIGHT NOW?! IN THIRTY DAYS!!! Slow it down.

That said, I’d like to illustrate my point with a personal example showing how excruciatingly gradual and slow my own growth has been. As small positive changes accrued over time, they displaced many negative habits, thus driving the incentive to continue investing in my own personal health and fitness.
(Okay, enough with the financial metaphors already!)

Disclaimer: I’m certainly not professing to be the epitome of health, I’m just sharing a glimpse into my process with the hope that it encourages other ‘newbies’ to not give up when they feel like progress is slow. I have a feeling plenty of people can relate to this unhealthy past–which spanned more than a decade of early adulthood.

Here goes:

I’m an average person (okay, average with superior intellect and charm, of course!). 😉 I was certainly not an athlete growing up, although sport and physical activity were encouraged by my family and were values instilled into me from a young age. However, I can honestly say I HATED exercise and never took much of an interest in sports beyond my father’s prodding and enthusiasm. Physical culture was not my passion. Nor was being ‘healthy’. I recall a time when I frequently described myself as ‘having a general disregard for my health.’ Seriously. Fast forward to the present, and I feel like I’m living a pretty healthy life overall. Of course, it’s an ongoing process with plenty of room for improvement–no doubt! But when I see it listed out as below, it’s evident that playing the long game is an effective strategy for achieving wellness, taking into account each baby step along the way.

Here I’ve tried listing my various habits and behaviours as a sort of flowchart to show how one behaviour (good or bad) might feed into or impact other areas–and how they’ve evolved gradually over the span of several years.

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2007 – 1.5 gallons vodka/week (drinking daily) -> 2+ litres Diet Coke/day -> 1-2 packs cigarettes/day ->4-5 hours sleep most nights (more on weekends) -> processed food, candy/junk food, dining out, sporadic meals, infrequent nutrient dense home cooked meals -> 0 supplements -> 0 exercise/9 holes of golf a few times a month

2008 – 10,000 steps/day programme through work + golf a few times a month set time limit on drinking alcohol 6-9 PM (still daily) 5+ hours sleep most nights (more on weekends) 1+ pack cigarettes/day + nicotine gum attempts processed food, candy/junk food, dining out, sporadic meals, infrequent nutrient dense home cooked meals -> 2+ litres Diet Coke/day -> 0 supplements

2009 – 10,000 step/day programme + ballroom dance lessons 2x/week alcohol abstinence at least 2-3 nights/week 1 pack cigarettes/day + Nicotine gum -> 6+ hours sleep most nights (more on weekends) -> some processed food, candy/junk food, dining out–choosing ‘healthier’ options–salads from fast food joints, sporadic nutritious home cooked meals, incorporating microwaved frozen vegetables into dinners more regularly -> 2+ litres Diet Coke/day -> 0 supplements

2010 – Drinking limited mostly to weekends and occasional work ‘happy hours’ with colleagues 0.5 pack cigarettes/day + nicotine gum ballroom dance lessons and sporadic attempts to exercise at home with videos 6+ hours sleep most nights (more on weekends) -> 2+ litres Diet Coke + more water -> more frequent home cooked meals, less processed foods, incorporating more vegetables (fresh and frozen) -> 0 supplements

2011 – Joined the YMCA: started step aerobics classes, total body conditioning classes, weight training 5 days/week QUIT SMOKING and all forms of nicotine! Drinking limited to weekends and special occasions 6-7 hours sleep most nights (more on weekends) many more vegetables and nutritious home cooked meals, less junk food, processed foods, and dining out whey protein supplements 2 liters Diet Coke/week + 1-2 liters water/day

2012 – Became group exercise instructor and personal trainer–running and/or training 1-2xs/day, most days, Crossfit 3-5 days/week 0 smoking whey protein drinking limited to weekends and special occasions 6-7 hours of sleep most nights (more on weekends) -> 2 litres WATER (quit Diet Coke!) increased vegetables and protein in home cooked meals, limited junk food, processed foods, and dining out, regular food tracking using an app and nutrition strategies for fat loss and performance

2013 – Wellness coach, personal trainer, and Crossfit coach, training a mix of Olympic weightlifting and Crossfit 5 days/week drinking limited to weekends and special occasions
2+ litrrs WATER/day protein and fruits and vegetables prioritized, but flexible dieting with some food tracking, limited junk food multivitamin, whey protein, home brewed kombucha probiotics 6+ hours sleep most days, some naps (more on weekends)

2014 – Coaching and Crossfit training 1-3 days/week + Olympic Weightlifting 4 days/week drinking limited to special occasions–with months of abstinence! 2+ litres WATER/day fish oil, vitamin D3, ZMA, BCAAs, whey protein, home brewed kombucha probiotics protein and vegetables prioritized, mostly flexible dieting with food tracking, limited junk food. Self experiments with nutrition: elimination diets, intermittent fasting, ketogenic dieting 6+ hours sleep most nights (more on weekends)

2015 – Coaching Crossfit + training 3-5 days/week + Olympic weightlifting 3 days/week drinking limited to special occasions 2+ litres WATER/day fish oil, vitamin D3, ZMA, probiotics, digestive enzymes, glucosamine, creatine, BCAAs, dextrose, whey protein, casein protein protein and vegetables prioritized, nutrient timing strategies, limited junk food–special occasions 6-7 hours sleep most nights (more on weekends)

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And there you have it: boozer to baller! 😉 These changes evolved over a very long time frame for me, and similar to Buffett’s investments, it started slowly at first but each positive change seemed to compound over time, gaining momentum as my fitness improved. Of course some things took off quicker and were easier to maintain and sustain than others, and there have been setbacks and ‘relapses’ along the way–but in general, it’s not about a 6 week instant total life fitness makeover. I still struggle to get enough sleep. Certain triggers still make me crave a drink (or 5) on weeknights, and yes, I definitely over-indulge from time to time (especially on holiday), and I still have days (more frequently than one might guess) where I dread getting off the couch. However, relative to where I started–completely bankrupt in fitness–I’m willing to wager I’ve succeeded in transforming my lifestyle for the long haul. Maybe it won’t take you YEARS to establish the habits and life you desire, but even if it does? What’s a few years when measured against the grand scheme of the next 60+ in your life?

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kortnow

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