Many people say the best diet and exercise regimens are the ones you can stick to. This is true insofar as compliance is concerned—consistency is the watchword of winners—but it misses a crucial caveat: Efficacy. No matter how well you stick to a diet or exercise routine that doesn’t work, you’re nowhere. The goldilocks zone, then, is the overlap between what you can stick with and what works.

And while that territory is larger than you might think—you have a lot of latitude in how you can eat and exercise to achieve your health and fitness goals—there are boundaries. For example . . .

  1. Too many of even the “healthiest” calories will cause weight gain. Energy balance is a rough mistress.
  2. You can look like a model of fitness and feel like a measure of death. Don’t mistake big muscles and little waists for picture-postcard health.
  3. If you try to lose more than 0.5-to-1% of your bodyweight per week, your chances of success (and satisfaction with the results) tumble. Patience is more important than pain tolerance.
  4. Organic/vegan/gluten-free/etc. junk food is still junk food. Sorry but not sorry.
  5. The best way to lose weight if your blood is type A? Calorie deficit. B? Calorie deficit. AB? Keto. Just kidding. It’s a calorie deficit.
  6. It’s a lot easier to eat too much fat than it is to eat enough protein. By a long way.
  7. Grains can make you fat. Seed oils can make you fat. Sugar can make you fat. Nuts can make you fat. Cheese can make you fat. Fruit can make you fat. Starches can make you fat. Eggs can make you fat. The moral? Just about anything can make you fat if you eat too much of it.
  8. There are no “weird tricks” for melting belly fat; pills, powders, or potions for packing on muscle; or “biohacks” for supercharging your chakras with higher vibrations of the green tea infinity. There’s only the work.
  9. Aside from (maybe) your immediate family and closest friends, most people either don’t care whether you reach your fitness goals or would rather see you fail. So stop seeking validation
  10. To get the body and health you want, you have to deserve what you want. So slug it out one inch at a time, day by day, because eventually—if we live long enough—most of us get what we deserve.

Some people try to snub such “tough fitness truths” for more comforting myths and fictions, but the sooner you can find, accept, and adapt to them, the sooner you can get on the glide path to your best body ever. Because most of your results come from repeating the rudiments over and over for a long time. Most everything else is window dressing.