When you feel good naked, it makes everything else in your life better.
You have more sex. You have more success in your career. Other people feel safe around you.
On the other hand, everything is harder when you don’t feel good naked.
You’re less intimate in your relationships. You make less money. Others don’t feel as secure around you.
These claims might seem a bit extreme. But the truth is, it doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing clothes or not; the way you feel naked is a great litmus test for your overall degree of confidence.
Plus, you can use the skills you learn during your fitness journey (e.g. building habits) in order to reach any other goal that you may have.
So: what helps someone feel good naked in the first place?
Looking Good vs. Feeling Good
There are two factors that determine someone’s level of body confidence:
How they objectively look naked
How they feel about how they look
Most guys focus on one or the other. They see Chris Hemsworth in Thor and think, “If only I looked like that, I’d finally feel confident.”
Or they fall into the body-positive camp and try to love themselves no matter what they look like.
This begs the question: If you want to feel good naked, should you focus on changing your body? Or should you focus on changing your mindset?
In order to develop true confidence, you’ll probably want to do both.
It doesn’t matter how good you look objectively if you don’t feel like you’re enough. And it’s very difficult to convince yourself to feel good about your body when you know deep down that you’re not taking care of it.
Here’s the cool thing: both of these factors (internal and external) support each other. When you look better naked, you naturally feel better. And when you feel like enough in your body, it’s much easier to take the healthy actions that help you look good.
The F.I.T. System: Fuel, Inner Game, Training
There are three things that you must have in place in order to feel good naked. Some are internal and some are external. I created the acronym F.I.T. so that the system is easy for you to remember.
Let’s break down each piece of the puzzle:
F = FUEL
The bottom line is that if you eat too much, or if you eat like crap, you’re not going to feel good naked. You wouldn’t take a Ferrari and overfill it with vegetable oil. Similarly, when you fuel yourself correctly, you’re showing your body that you care for it.
The first thing to consider when it comes to fuel is hydration.
Obviously, our bodies need enough water to survive and perform optimally. But there’s another reason why hydration is important.
Many of us confuse thirst with hunger and, as a result, we end up eating more than we really need to. The exact amount of water you should drink each day depends on your bodyweight and level of activity, but most people need about two liters (which equals 8, 8 ounce glasses).
I recommend using your own portable water bottle to stay hydrated throughout they day. First, it will help you measure your water intake (there are even fancy bottles that will measure automatically). Second, if you have water on hand with you all the time, you’re more likely to drink it.
The second thing to consider is nutrition - the food you’re eating.
If you’re consuming more calories than you’re burning each day, you’re going to gain weight. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing in terms of exercise. It doesn’t matter how clean you’re eating. You need to be in what’s called a caloric deficit in order to lose fat.
While you can technically lose weight while eating junk food (remember, energy balance is king) most people look and feel better when they get their calories from less processed food (stuff that would go bad if you left it out for too long).
You also want to eat the right balance of macronutrients — protein, carbs, and fat. Protein is particularly important. If you’re in a caloric deficit but you’re not eating enough protein (around 1 gram per pound of bodyweight for most people), then as much as half of the weight you lose will be muscle. This is why some guys end up looking “skinny fat” after they lose weight.
The third thing to think about in terms of fuel is mindful eating.
If you’re eating a balanced diet that’s low in ultra-processed foods, you can rely more on your body’s intuition. You can learn to eat when you’re hungry. You can learn to stop eating when you’re full. You can even learn what types of nutrients your body needs in that moment.
When we eat in a distracted way, whether that’s by watching T.V. or using our phones during a meal, it’s harder to hear the signals our bodies are sending. It’s also harder to get the full enjoyment out of what we eat. It takes more food to derive the same amount of pleasure if we don’t savor it.
For some people, eating more slowly can help. Try putting down your fork and knife between bites. For other people, eating locally helps develop a better relationship with food. I started bowhunting in order to be more connected to the meat that I eat. You don’t have to hunt in order to be fit, of course, but it’s good to know where your food comes from.
I = INNER GAME
Anyone who has achieved a big goal in life knows that success is mostly mental. You can have the best information and strategies in the world, but all of that external stuff doesn’t matter if your inner game isn’t solid. The same is true of getting fit.
The first part of mastering your inner game is getting quality sleep.
Research shows that when you’re low on sleep, you’re more likely to overeat. Lack of sleep shifts your hormonal balance away from those hormones that promote fullness and towards those that promote hunger. Chronic lack of sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and even stroke.
Sleep also affects your ability to function during the day. You’re less productive at work. You’re less effective in the gym. Everything sucks.
One thing you can do to get better sleep is to keep your bedroom as cold and dark as possible. I personally sleep best under the covers, in my boxers, with the A/C set to 64 degrees. I also use light blocking shades and put black electric tape over any electronic readouts or light sources.
The second part of the inner game is how you react to stress.
It’s much harder to get fit when you’re stressed out. Many of the guys I work with have demanding, fast-paced careers. This can lead to a flood of cortisol throughout the day. And excess cortisol production can lead to increased belly fat.
Does this mean you’re doomed to be fat if you’re a busy, high-achieving guy? Of course not. It’s your relationship to stress, not the amount of stress you experience, that largely determines how your body reacts.
One of the best things you can do to buffer yourself against stress is to develop a solid morning routine. For many of my clients, a short meditation to start the day can work wonders. It’s as simple as sitting down, setting a timer for 5-10 minutes, and focusing on your breath until the time is up. It’s like putting on your anti-stress armor for the day.
The third part of inner game is your relationship with yourself.
Most of us, when we start our fitness journey, are driven by criticism. We hate the way we look naked and we start comparing ourselves to other people. Not only is this type of motivation bad for our self-image, it’s also not enough to help us maintain our progress once we get in decent shape.
When we’re driven by criticism, one bad choice can turn into a landslide of unhealthy behavior. We figure that since we had one drink, we may as well go wild. When you have a forgiving relationship with yourself, on the other hand, you can enjoy the occasional indulgence and then get back on track.
One thing my clients do is keep a journal next to their beds. At the end of each day, I have them bullet-point out what they did well that day and what they’re grateful for. We are naturally wired to focus on what’s wrong. But gratitude helps rewire our brains to focus on what’s working.
T = TRAINING
We’ve talked about the importance of fuel and inner game. Now it’s time to talk about about training. I prefer the term “training” to “working out” because it suggests that you’re developing a skill or working towards a long term goal. As you’ll see, this is a much better way to frame exercise.
The first step is making time to move your body each day.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best training program in the world if you can’t adhere to it. So before we try to optimize our training, the first thing we need to do is build the habit of training consistently by starting small.
This approach is the opposite of what most people do. Most people get inspired to change their entire life at New Years. They tell themselves they’re going to work out hard for 2 hours every day. And we all know how successful that approach is, right?
Instead, start by doing 30 minutes a day of something you enjoy. It could be walking, yoga, soccer, weight lifting. Whatever it is, schedule that activity into your calendar and treat it like you would any other important important appointment.
The second step is to do the right type of training for your goals.
Now that you’ve learned how to make time for training, you can start to optimize that time based on your goals.
Most people go to the gym with the intention of sweating and making themselves sore. But the truth is, not all types of training are created equal. Especially when it comes to building the type of body that you want.
Our bodies are adaptation machines, and each type of training encourages your body to adapt in a different way.
For example, if you do a lot of cardio, your body will eventually become more protective of the calories you consume. If you were a hunter gatherer that was always on the move, your body wouldn’t want to burn any more calories than it had to. So while cardio can help you burn fat in the short term, it actually slows down your metabolism over time. This is obviously counterproductive if your primary goal is weight loss.
Strength training, on the other hand, speeds up your metabolism by telling your body to add more muscle. The more muscle you have, the more you’ll be able to eat. This is why the best way to train, whether your goal is fat loss loss or muscle gain, is to lift heavy weights and rest fully between sets. You’ll build more muscle, get stronger, and look better as you lose weight.
The third level, once you’ve chosen the correct type of training, is to keep progressing over time.
As you now know, your body adapts based on the stressors you place upon it. So if you go into the gym to strength train and you do the same amount of weight, sets, and reps every week, what do you think will happen?
Exactly: Your body won’t change.
If, on the other hand, you’re able to add a rep each week, and increase the weight every few weeks, you will continue to get stronger. And in order to get stronger, your body will usually need to build more muscle.
The technical term for this process is “progressive overload,” and it’s the next most important part of training after consistency and type of training. Even if you’re doing something other than strength training, it’s important to focus on improving at that skill over time in order to make progress.
Now It’s Your Turn
You don’t have to wait for motivation to strike in order to take action. Motivation comes after we take action on the right things. We see ourselves doing what a fit person would do and our identity starts to shift.
This means you don’t have to wait until you look like a Hollywood actor in order to feel good naked. You just have to take the first step.
If you’re ready to take that step today, apply for a complimentary strategy session. We’ll help you customize the F.I.T. system to work for your busy life. And, if you’d like, we can talk about whether our online fitness coaching would be a good match for you.