Extreme right wing, extreme left wing. Extreme heat, extreme cold. Obesity, anorexia. Overuse injuries, injuries from underutilization.
When it comes to new health and fitness goals, extremes are way to common for January resolutions. Waking up at 5:00AM to run 3 miles when you never wakeup before 6:00AM and haven’t run since PE in high school. Drop 40 pounds on a liquid diet in 15 days, and you barely drink 3 glasses of water per day. What are the odds of success in these situations? Not much.
As a fitness industry expert, I have personally gone through different extremes with my body. None of these extremes have ever lasted long for many reasons. The body and mind cannot deal with depravation and over training for long periods of time without injuries. What has lasted is a moderation of healthy lifestyle habits and activities that I enjoy. The lessons learned from training for a bodybuilding contest and elite level obstacle course races, helps me maintain a fitness level that works for my personality and body type.
- “I need someone to be super strict with me or I’ll never lose weight.”
- “I have to workout for two hours every day.”
- “I’m cutting all carbs from my diet and eating only meat.”
Do any of these statements make you nod your head in agreement? If so, has that thought process worked for you beyond the length of a program/diet/contest? If the answer to the first question is yes, the answer to the second is no. You have reverted back to your previous self and feel like a failure for doing so. This cyclic behavior is self-destructive and why your resolutions never work every year.
Regardless if you started and stopped already, or haven’t started yet, try a new moderate approach to changing your lifestyle.
- No alcohol Sunday-Thursday
- Replace soft drinks with flavored mineral water
- Join a group to try new physical activities like hiking or cycling
In an article on NPR about a Swedish study on factors that help keep resolutions, ones that are for pleasurable activities instead of depriving are more successful. Moderation in your lifestyle can lead to better choices overall. Look at choices about exercise and food changes with an “if I do x, then I adjust y”. For example, you’re going to dinner with friends on Thursday night. Adjust your breakfast and lunch choices to allow for anything you want at dinner. You fully enjoy the outing without guilt and still on track for your goals.
Life is meant to be lived, not constantly have the fun taken away. For 6 years I have maintained body fat percentage around 10% or less. I don’t skip meals, turn down alcohol, or workout excessively. The hard work was done during the bodybuilding contest prep. Since then, I learned that is not the lifestyle for me. Overall, I don’t drink sodas, keep alcohol to the weekends, and don’t buy sugary foods at the grocery store. Total calories I eat are more than most people daily, the food is just not processed and full of fat.
2021 doesn’t feel much different so far than 2020. What you can take into the new year is a more focused view on your health and fitness to strengthen your immunity and reduce risk factors for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. In turn, you will be happier and have more self-confidence to take on the challenges 2021 will bring you.
For help with your goals, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the Athlete in the Game of Life Team on my website and receive a free copy of my book!