"Fitness" has become very fucking twisted.
Somehow being healthy is synonymous with breaking your soul in the gym and eating only celery sticks for 4 weeks.
Current Fitness Trends
Just look at the most popular styles of training right now, they put all of their focus into three things:
This is fairly short-sighted, and perpetuates the idea of exercise as "punishment for eating choices."
From a psychological and behavioral standpoint, I can hardly think of anything more twisted than turning movement [which should be a fun and good thing] into a punishment for food [which should also be a fun and good thing].
High Intensity Only
Your body has different energy systems. It's beneficial to work them all. If you don't, you end up with a lot of gaps in your overall well-being.
When you are in a high-intensity cardio zone constantly, you don't have time to address many of the other qualities important for health. Such as mobility, strength, speed, coordination, balance, vision, etc. Not only this but your body responds to stress, and doing a high intensity workout can actually jack up your hormones and INCREASE your overall STRESS. As weird as it sounds, many people would be better off taking a walk than doing one of these high intensity "fitness" classes.
Short-Term Weight Loss (and a lot of it)
One of the most popular chains advocates a diet of less than 1100 calories per day (some days as low as 700) and many high intensity, high-stress workout punishments per week.
This is ridiculous, and not sustainable. This strategy will have a very high rate of quitting, and those who do complete the challenge are highly likely to rebound to an even higher weight (and body fat).
For the last time, exercise should make you feel better, not feel beaten down.
Q: What looks great in marketing materials and also destroys a person's metabolism and endocrine system?
A: DING DING! It's these rapid weight loss challenges.
Focusing on these 3 things, is the LAST THING you should be worried about when it comes to healthy living.
Really it comes down to ONE THING...
Come back and hit it again tomorrow.
Being healthy isn't a competition. You just have to make sure you can stay in the game.
It actually doesn't even matter as much what that "it" is. It's more important THAT you are doing SOMETHING.
It's not what you do, it's how you do it. But taking it deeper, WHY you do it.
Simon Sinek has a great book called "Start With Why." It's a great read and I highly recommend it.
When it comes to exercise and healthy living, find your why (your reason) for achieving your goals.
If you have a truly compelling reason, you'll stick with it 100%, especially if you can make it fun and rewarding.
Don't discount the value of fun--all of your movement should be fun. If it's not, you need to find a different option--and believe me, there are plenty of great choices that will give you the results you want.
Let's make one thing perfectly clear here; being healthy is not a 4 week plan. It's not an 8 week plan. It's not a 12, 16, or even a 36 week plan.
You get one body. It's got to last you up until you clock out--so you better learn how it works, and how to take care of it.
You are NOT going to have a thorough understanding of how your body responds to what you do in 4 weeks. It's going to take years and years--and that's actually half the fun.
You're never going to find THE ANSWER--it doesn't exist. What you CAN DO, is find effective tactics [fun things] through self exploration.
There isn't a right answer here--try things and see what you like! These fun things will keep you in great shape throughout your entire life.
This all ties back into a concept that I am clearly obsessed about...
Physical Freedom: The ability to move uninhibited, confidently, and without fear.
This is the keystone to a healthy life. Physical freedom gives you options to explore all the activities that life has to offer. Without it, sustaining any plan is going to prove very difficult.
Navigating the Obstacles
At one point or another, all of us will experience some roadblocks.
1. Lack of motivation
2. Pain or Immobility
The first point, motivation, comes back to finding your "why."
Physical activity will make your body feel good, strong, and it will even improve your energy, mood, etc. There are a lot of "reasons" to stay active--but find the most compelling one. Maybe it's being able to play tag with your grandkids someday? It could be anything, but make it meaningful.
The second point, physical pain or immobility, can be the most frustrating roadblock of all. In fact, I personally have experienced physical pain and felt trapped--even lost without being able to stay active.
My experience was not an isolated one either--over 100 million people in the US (a third of the population) experience chronic pain.
Out of that huge number of people, 77% feel depressed because of it.
The beauty is that once your body is working as it should, everything just falls into place. Your energy is higher, your movement capacity is higher, and you WANT to move. That's really the secret--you want to look forward to your daily movement--whatever form that takes.
Take the Challenge!
Then do it again tomorrow. And the next 10 years.
And really, who's going to stop at 10 years? This is a life sentence baby.
Better every day,