How to Get (and Stay) in Shape in 2023

Jun 20, 2023


Note: This page may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of the links, I get a small kickback at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting me :)

Tired of all of the massive amount of information being spread around social media about how to get in shape? Nowadays, just about anyone can give fitness and nutrition advice. While you don't need a degree to know what works and doesn't work for your body, 90% of the information out there is straight garbage. The thing is, getting in shape is shockingly uncomplicated. While I do have a bodybuilding background, the information presented here applies to anyone and everyone. This information is from the thousands of hours I've put into the gym, researching the latest scientific findings, and applied tips the past couple of years. Now, let's get you that dream body without all of the bs.

exercise benefits

Section 1: Caloric Surplus/Deficit

You've likely heard the words "calories in, calories out" at some point already. But what does this mean? 

Simply put, your body burns a certain amount of calories just existing. This is called Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE for short. This can be calculated online or using the approximation (Body weight in lbs x 15) as per Harvard. Your TDEE tells you approximately how many calories you should consume each day to maintain your current weight if you are moderately active. For example if you are 160 pounds and you climb stairs throughout the day, your TDEE would come out to be around 2400 calories to maintain your weight. 

Keep in mind, this number is just an estimate and may not reflect your actual TDEE. The best way to determine your TDEE is by tracking the calories of EVERYTHING you eat for a week (using an app like MyFitnessPal), eating the same amount every day, and weighing yourself every morning. If you find yourself losing weight, add 100-200 calories every day and if you find yourself gaining weight, remove 100-200 calories every day and repeat the process until your find your weight holding steady throughout the week.

Once you find your TDEE, awesome! If you were to eat around this amount every day you would maintain your weight. No losing weight, no gaining weight, just maintaining. It's simple thermodynamics. From here, if you want to gain weight, eat approximately 100-200 calories above maintenance (TDEE) and you will slowly gain weight. An extra 500 calories a day will have you gaining a pound a week (1lb = 3500 calories), but this number may or may not be too high for your goal. If you're wanting to lose weight, decrease your calories anywhere from 100-500 calories a day. Decreasing your intake every day by 500 calories will put you on track to losing a pound a week. Alternatively, if you don't want to decrease your calories, you can just increase your cardio/exercise.
physical exercise

Section 2: Nutrition

So. Many. Food. Options. It can be overwhelming trying to decide what food to eat and even more difficult trying to figure out if something is "healthy." Don't worry, you won't have to cut out burgers or sweets if you don't want to. The key to maintaining a healthy diet is moderation. Here are some tips for keeping your nutrition in check: 

  1. Try to keep around 20-25% of your calories coming from fat sources, 20-25% from protein (if you're wanting to gain muscle and you're doing strength training, do 1g/lb of body weight), and 50-60% from carbohydrates/carbs. Note: Carbs are not your enemy. Your body relies on glucose as its main food source and keto does not provide some "miracle" weight loss because it limits carbs. Most of the weight lost during keto is from water. 
  2. Keep your water intake high. While there is no magical number for how much water you should drink, the average adult male should drink around 3.7 liters (15.5 cups/125 ounces) a day and the average adult female should drink around 2.7 liters (11.5 cups/91 ounces) a day as per Geisinger. Drink water consistently throughout the day and increase your water intake if you are engaging in physical activity.
  3. Tracking calories is not required, but highly recommended. You don't realize how much you're actually eating until you start accounting for oils, spices, sauces, and everything else. 
  4. The 80/20 rule is nice to live by, but also is not a necessity. The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your food intake should come from natural and non-processed food sources while the other 20% can come from whatever you wish. This is a good starting point, but whatever works best for your goals (and whatever you can stick to) is the right plan for you. 
  5. Try to keep your food sources to natural and non-processed options. Things like chicken, eggs, and vegetables are better options due to their higher nutritional content and satiety index compared to store-bought pizza and Oreos. It's okay to indulge, just remember: keep everything in moderation.  
mental health exercise

Section 3: Exercise

Exercise doesn't have to be miserable! Your idea of fun may not be running on the treadmill for 30 minutes (not my idea of fun, either). Luckily, there are many types of exercise activities you can partake in. With so many different types of exercises available, it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. As a general rule, you will benefit most from including both aerobic and anaerobic types of exercise in your training. Here are some examples of different types of exercise:

  1. Aerobic exercise: walking, running, swimming, cycling, gardening, etc.
  2. Anaerobic exercise: Strength training (e.g., weight lifting, resistance bands, bodyweight exercises), isometric, plyometrics, etc.
  3. Flexibility and balance exercise (e.g., yoga, Pilates, tai chi)
  4. Sports and recreational activities (e.g., tennis, basketball, dancing)

Ideally you'd want to choose one exercise from each category. But, it's understood that life can get very busy and you may be pressed for time often. Try your best to get in at least one type of exercise from two categories to improve your overall health. Most importantly, pick exercises that you can stick to in the long run.

types of exercise

Creating an Exercise Routine

Once you have identified the type of exercise that suits you best, it's important to create a routine that you can stick to. Here are some tips for creating a successful exercise routine:

  1. Schedule your workouts: Plan your exercise sessions in advance and treat them as non-negotiable appointments. It's easy to talk yourself out of going, but once you get in the habit you'll find it much easier to stick with.
  2. Find a workout buddy: Having a friend or family member to exercise with can make the experience more enjoyable and help you stay accountable.
  3. Track your progress: Keep track of your workouts and celebrate your achievements to stay motivated. I personally use Fitbod for all of my lifting workouts but there are tons of great apps that fit whatever exercise you plan on doing.
  4. Set realistic goals: Start small and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts. Don't try to jump into the most difficult things right out of the gate as your body will not be prepared. Slow and steady wins the race and you'll progress a lot faster than you think. 
  5. Start off with basic templates from online and then adapt it over time to what fits your body if you're not sure where to start. It's hard to know what your body responds well to immediately, but you'll learn what works best for you through trial and error. It's okay if there's quite a bit of trial and error, as it's an unavoidable part of the process. 
exercise routine


Once you get in the habit of doing all of these things, they'll become second nature to you. Over time you'll build up discipline and won't have to think twice about going to the gym or refusing to eat that piece of pie. Discipline is the key to not only getting in shape, but staying in shape. Most important, remember to have fun with everything! Shape these tips to your life and goals and make sure you enjoy what you're doing. If you're miserable, you won't stick to your plans. Now get out there and make the changes you've been dreaming of!

Thanks for reading,