When I talk to people about fitness and health there always seems to be one extreme or the other. Finding balance is often not something practiced or understood, especially for beginners. But if you ask me, finding balance is the key to being successful for the long term with health and fitness.
Extreme diets, extreme workouts, obsessive calorie counting, restrictions, rules, foods to avoids, yoga poses to conquer. We are constantly bombarded with extreme ideas of fitness and health everywhere we go. After years of self destruction in the form of restrictive dieting, binge eating, obsessive exercise, I will be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to ignore or avoid these messages. I had to learn my lesson first hand, our bodies will eventually rebel, push back, shut down, and catch up with you. Every single time.
I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to share my story, my mistakes, and my lessons with people starting their fitness journey. My approach to health and fitness is one of balance, and it’s what I built my own personal training business on. Balancing healthy eating and exercise with finding time to spend with family and friends, going out to eat, having dessert, making time for hobbies, kids, chores, work, ladies night and of course rest.
Starting a health and fitness routine based on extremes is a recipe for failure. Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. You’ve decided that this is the year that you are going to “get in shape”. You find a workout routine, start tracking your food intact, cut calories down to 1200 a day, get up early to get in that workout (by cutting down on your sleep), vow to only eat homemade food, and stop accepting invitations to meals, drinks with friends, and parties. If you do accept an invite it’s usually in a terrible or guilt ridden mood because you are on a “diet”. All of a sudden you feel lonely, unhappy, stressed and start questioning if achieving those goals are even worth it.
Instead, I encourage my clients to practice balance when starting a health and fitness routine. After all, I’m trying to teach my clients methods they can use to build a long term lifestyle they can stick to without feeling like they are constantly having to compromise their happiness for health. This of course doesn’t mean I go easy on them during our workouts, nor does it mean they get a break from discussing good healthy carbs, proteins, fats and cutting out the junk and processed foods. But I do stress an 80/20 approach to a healthy lifestyle. If you can stick to your healthy meals and workouts 80% of the time, your body won’t constantly rebel when you indulge the other 20% of the time. So, if you have to have that glass of wine at the end of the day, great, let’s build your day with that in mind. If you have lunch with a friend and want a cheeseburger, what healthy breakfast and dinner are you planning.
By starting in a balanced mindset, it’s not such a jolting transition. In my personal health and fitness journey, it’s been the small changes over time that have built the lifestyle I’ve established and is working for my body. Anytime I went to an extreme, either with diet, workouts, going out with friends, or working three jobs at a time, the sacrifices have always been greater than the reward. Any weight loss I’ve achieved going to extremes was always back on in 3-4 months when I just couldn’t take that unhealthy extreme any longer. This cycle was not only difficult physically to gain the weight back but the mental stress of being deprived for so long then to be uncomfortable in your own skin, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Which is why I think finding balance is really the key.
The truth is there is no magic pill. There is no magic formula that works for everyone. If someone tells you that it will be easy or has a quick fix, run like hell from them! They are lying and will likely only put you further from your goals long term. To build a balanced approach often means that we don’t reach our goals as quickly as we would like. It requires consistent work, patience, and learning to listen and trust your body. Finding a good coach that will help you discover strengths and weaknesses and be there for you in those times you want to quit or take the ‘easy” route. With a balanced approach your new healthy lifestyle will become just that a lifestyle! You will never have to be on a diet again!
What about you?
- Do you know someone starting a health and fitness journey?
- What small steps have you taken to create long term success?
- What’s your story?