This ‘look before you leap’ is an old proverb that means “one shouldn’t act without first considering the possible consequences or dangers.” Pretty solid advice.

But when it comes to exercising and dieting to lose fat or to build muscle, this advice is usually thrown out of the window. People want results and they want them now. My God, I want some results.

They blindly follow (insert any extreme diet or exercise program here) anything because they’ve seen it in a magazine or on TV that so and so celebrity endorses, and it has given them great results.

This whole look before you leap thing disintegrates out of desperation for immediate results.  

Why I get it

Around the start of any year, a lot of people freshly armed with good intentions and newly minted New Year’s resolutions search for the best diet and exercise plan to get in shape fast.

If it’s endorsed by doctors or somebody sexy the better. Let me leap into my wallet and get this ball rolling.

It’s not that I’m against this way of thinking but (I think) there’s a better way by doing these 3 things.

1. Buying A Calendar

And thinking like a traffic light will help. These two unrelated items will set you up for long-term success. (1)

The calendar gives you an idea about where you want to go and what lies ahead. The traffic light analogy lets you know if it’s time to go ahead with caution or time to come to a complete stop.

Green light periods are the times when you’re not so busy. You can attack your diet and training with intensity and focus because you have the time and energy to do so.

For example, when the kids are at school and there’s not a lot of stuff happening at your job.

Yellow means caution. If you’re a parent and have the kids’ home during school holidays, it’s probably not the best time to start a new fat loss program or anything for that matter.

Red means stop. Things like surgeries, death of a loved one, divorce or moving to a new house are all consuming and deserve your full attention. Doing a little exercise will help with the stress but trying to lose 30 pounds with a new workout/diet routine is not going to happen.

Picking the time to attack, slow down or stop is as simple as buying a calendar and thinking like a traffic light when you schedule your time. Then you can go ahead and attack your exercise goals with gusto.

2. Pick one or the other but not both

This is when common sense comes into play.

Combining a restrictive diet and high intensity training program is tough and will have you hating life in a hurry. Yes, you will get results from it but at what cost?

And once your body gets used to the reduced calories and the constant jarring of the weights, cardio and the fat stops dripping off then there’s nowhere left to go. You’re already pushing both to the limit.

But for most of your time, you should;

A.  Extreme diet and moderate exercise program

Because you’re in caloric deficit, it’s not going to take too much more to lose fat. Your training needs to be geared to retaining the muscle you have and eating enough protein to support this.

And when this stops working, move on to B.

B. Extreme exercise program and moderate diet program

When you’re all guns blazing with any exercise program, you need the calories to support muscle retention and recovery. So, you need to be a little less restrictive with your food (while still eating good quality food) because your body demands it.

While you can be all guns blazing with both, your body doesn’t handle it for long. Best to stay within the middle ground of A and B for most of your time. (2)

3. Consistency

Let’s face it nothing works if you don’t.  It doesn’t matter how much money and intentions you throw at your health; it only works if you do.

You know what does work?

Staying consistent. Because exercise is as easy as strapping on a shoes and going for a walk. Because even walking has tremendous health benefits and I bet people who are wheelchair bound would love to go for a walk.

If you pick up and put down a few weights, even better. Strength training helps keep your muscle mass and keeps your bones stronger as you age.  

Because your health doesn’t need excuses; it needs action and consistency.

And you can help yourself by

Setting realistic attainable exercise goals

You may want to lose 30 pounds of fat or gain 10 pounds of muscle in the next two months, but if you’re snowed under with work and life your goal is not happening.  

Realize that your goals are still attainable but it’s going to take longer. Being flexible and adjusting your timeframe will help keep you on the path to being consistent.

Doing a little exercise over a long period beats doing a lot of exercise over a short period of time, every time.

If you need help attaining your exercise goals and looking before you leap, please contact me here.

Wrapping up

It’s okay to take a leap of faith when it comes to getting results but it’s better to look before you leap. You’re more likely to succeed and hopefully save yourself some money and sanity.


1. and 2. Before we go An ongoing philosophy of lifting, living and learning. Dan John, 2016.


  1. Ellen

    This is a great article! Thanks Shane! This article hits the keys and actually makes sense to me.

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