Written by Stan Efferding
Last updated: 8/11/2022
Throughout my competitive career, which spanned almost 30 years, I’ve been scouring the planet in search of every possible quick fix, hack, magic trick, scheme, program, pill, powder, or potion to help me achieve my goals. Whether it was to improve sleep, digestion, body composition, energy, athletic performance, health, cognition, aging, you name it.
I’ve spent 10’s of thousands of dollars, read 1,000’s of studies, 100’s of books, traveled all over the world, and spoken to countless medical professionals, academics, athletes, coaches, and “gurus.”
I carefully tracked every meal, every hour of sleep, and every workout. I weighed myself daily, took weekly progress pictures, videotaped countless hours of training to perfect my technique, and had over 150 blood tests.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my journey is that there is no holy grail. If you want to improve your health and fitness, it will require a comprehensive approach consisting of the following five things:
I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of quantity and quality of sleep. It’s the foundation upon which everything else sits.
You can’t out-work a bad diet. Excess body weight is the primary driver of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Weight loss itself is responsible for 95% of health benefits.
Regular exercise is essential for cardiovascular health, bone mineral density, and lean body mass retention. The fittest, strongest people live the longest.
4. STRESS MANAGEMENT
A healthy lifestyle consisting of quality sleep, diet, and regular exercise can significantly reduce stress. Still, you should consider professional help/counseling if stress is causing anxiety and depression.
5. MEDICAL CARE
You can’t solve everything with lifestyle interventions. Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s causing hypothyroidism will require medical care. The same may be true of hypogonadism, familial hypercholesterolemia, post-menopausal estrogen deficiency, sleep apnea, etc. that require medical treatment. If you are struggling with any of these conditions, there are now groundbreaking, safe, and effective treatments available! I have partnered with Marek Health who has medical professionals to help diagnose and treat these conditions and more.
I know these things aren’t groundbreaking or fancy, and you’ve probably heard all of this before, but it bears repeating because these are the things that WORK!!
Are you doing them? Or are you doing juice cleanses, mega-dosing vitamins, and mainlining caffeine while riding a daily energy roller coaster? You’re not alone.
I’m not preaching at you. I’ve gained and lost well over 1,000 pounds, albeit intentionally, throughout my career, ballooning up to over 300 pounds to compete in powerlifting and dieting down to single-digit body fat to compete as a professional bodybuilder. I know how it feels to be overweight, sick, and tired. I also know how it feels to be so hungry you can’t sleep at night.
I also have a wife, three kids, and two companies so I understand that it can be very challenging to find the time to care for your health properly.
That’s why I recommend lifestyle programs that are simple, sensible, and sustainable because “Compliance is the Science”!!
Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good, and don’t set yourself up for failure with some overly strict diet that you don’t enjoy or an unnecessarily aggressive exercise program that you won’t adhere to.
You can accomplish weight loss and/or improved health and fitness with much less effort than you may presume.
How do we know this? It has been studied. The “National Weight Control Registry” (NWCR) is the most extensive prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance.
The NWCR is tracking over 10,000 individuals who have lost significant amounts of weight and kept it off for long periods. Listed below are some of their more notable findings:
Registry members have lost an average of 66 lbs and kept it off for 5.5 years.
Weight losses have ranged from 30 to 300 lbs.
Some have lost weight rapidly, while others have lost weight very slowly–over as many as 14 years.
45% of registry participants lost weight on their own, and the other 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program.
98% of Registry participants report that they modified their food intake in some way to lose weight (They went on a diet)
94% increased their physical activity, with walking being the most frequently reported form of activity.
78% eat breakfast every day.
75% weigh themselves at least once a week.
62% watch less than 10 hours of TV per week.
It’s one thing to know what to do and another to know how to do it. I cover this in great detail in The Vertical Diet E-book, but I’ll leave you with my top tips for success to help you get started.
No real tricks here- commit to getting 7+ hours of sleep. That will require you to prioritize sleep and turn your phone off when it’s time to go to bed. Here are some helpful sleep hygiene tips:
- Naps are ok if short (20-30 min) and early in the afternoon, like 1:00.
- 4-hour “bouts” of sleep are not ideal.
- White noise has not been shown to be effective.
- Magnesium 300mg before bed is helpful.
- Meditation is helpful
- Worry journal is helpful
- A warm shower is helpful
- Waking up at the same time every morning and getting exposed to sunlight is helpful.
- Avoiding blue light before bed is helpful (TV, telephone screen time)
- Cool room, quiet room, dark room.
You HAVE to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, and diet is the most effective way to achieve that (not trying to burn off your food with exercise, that simply doesn’t work). There are many paths to the same destination, and all diets can work when they’re strictly adhered to. Pick the one that fits your lifestyle and “feels” the least restrictive. Meal prepping is the number one method to improve diet compliance. Whether you use a meal prep company or prep yourself, having pre-portioned, easy-to-prepare foods available helps with your weight loss journey. When I travel, I use a 24oz “thermos” (amazon) to keep a couple of meals hot for 10-12 hours so I can stay on my meal plan. This is also a great way to have your meals available when you’re busy at work or running the kids around after school. Anything that helps keep you away from fast food restaurants is a big win!!
The best exercise is the one you’ll do. Training is excellent for your health! Trying to exercise too hard too often can lead to “compensation” where you get tired and sit more and eat more. We recommend taking a 10-minute walk or using a stationary bike after meals. This has myriad benefits from blood sugar control, aids in digestion provides a satiety benefit, and it’s sustainable and doesn’t require getting in a car and going to the gym. Secondly, we recommend some sort of resistance training twice a week to improve bone mineral density and increase/maintain lean muscle mass, which is a sink for glucose and helps to increase your metabolism. That’s it unless you have more lofty fitness aspirations, in which case we applaud.
As mentioned previously, good sleep habits, a healthy diet, and regular exercise majorly affect stress. Taking some time for a few 5-10 minute mindful breathing breaks has also been shown to calm the sympathetic nervous system and help with stress. Also, please seek professional help if your stress seems overwhelming to you.
We all need to normalize therapy. I have worked with many world-class athletes who regularly attend therapy sessions for anxiety and depression.
I have personally designed a lab panel with Marek Health for my clients. I recommend you work closely with their medical team to address your health and optimization needs.
Stan Efferding’s Diagnostic Lab Panel
I hope this information has been helpful, and I wish you the best on your health and fitness journey.
I have some very informative Rhino’s Rhants covering various topics on my “Stan Efferding” YouTube channel.
As a valued member of Marek Health, If you want to order a copy of the Vertical Diet E-book, use code “Marek” for 20% off
If I can be of more help, stop by my website at StanEfferding.com
or DM me at @StanEfferding.
This blog post/article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied upon. If you are considering a treatment, always consult your primary care physician to discuss the risks and benefits.