One thing is for certain, the whole health, fitness, dieting and lifestyle world is full of contradiction…
One person will tell you that Carbs make you fat and then someone else will say that Carbs are fine and it’s Fat that’s the danger.
Then we have arguments about Vegan, Keto, Paleo, fasting etc. No wonder it’s so confusing!
What have you been told and what is it that you believe?
The whole topic always seems to have extremes. People seem to be in one camp or the other. Determined to argue their point on why their way is THE way and that any other way is just blastphemy!!!
In my experience though, I have found in life is that there’s rarely ONE way to do things. Many people strive to achieve things in life without following the same blueprint.
– The Russians and Americans built space programmes using different techniques.
– We teach our Children differently and they grow up to live successful and promising lives.
– Companies run and manage their staff differently but still manage to survive…
So why should health and fitness be the ONE thing that has a RIGHT WAY and a WRONG WAY?
It shouldn’t really.
Whether you are looking to be healthy, look good naked, gain confidence in yourself or just simply enjoy the great outdoors with your family more, there are a few basic principles that I believe we must follow.
The issue is that we get so caught up with the detailed tactics before we fully understand the strategic principles first.
We get caught in the weeds and don’t see the bigger picture of what being fit and healthy is all about and the many fundamental aspects that go into maintaining it for life. Because that’s what health is really…keeping it going for life.
Our 6 Basic Factors
There are many different aspects to this but for the purpose of this thread, I will nail it down to 6 over-arching principles. Which are:
- Energy Balance
I bet you’re looking at this list and thinking there’s more to it than that.
The only point up there that even remotely mentions anything to do with nutrition is energy balance…which I will tackle first.
#1 Energy Balance
The term energy balance simply refers to how much energy you consume through food and drink and the amount of energy that your body uses through daily activity and exercise.
- To maintain weight, the energy balance should level out.
- To gain weight, you have to have surplus energy
- To lose weight, you have to have deficit energy so that the body uses it’s own energy stores in order to make up the difference.
- It’s that simple!
Granted, there are some complications in terms of body dynamics, dysfunctions etc but for the vast vast majority of people, this concept holds true.
When on a diet what tends to happen is that you go into an energy (calorie) deficit for a specific period of time in order to lose weight.
This normally takes the form of a strict diet that is bland, boring and restrictive. In other words, it becomes hard to maintain, and your mind wanders to desires of sweets and chocolates and alcohol as you’ve cut them from your intake…
Which is a MASSIVE mistake! We go for the short term fix, expecting it to solve all our long-term problems.
How has that worked for you in the past?
The issue is that we focus on this ONE aspect of health, fitness, and well-being and we ignore the other major factors that I listed above. And without these other factors, it becomes very difficult to maintain the energy balance that we are after, whether this is to lose weight, gain weight or to just maintain what we currently have.
So let’s talk about these other factors…
Let’s jump straight in:
There’s little point in eating well Monday to Thursday only to let it all slide at the weekend where we binge on crap and eat double the amount of calories than we do in the week.
What often happens is that you have a moment of madness on a Friday/Saturday and then it all gets discarded until Monday again where you can ‘START AGAIN’. The problem is that it never works like this! The damage done at the weekend overrides the good work of the weekdays.
You’ve likely heard that consistency is key with various things in life and this is no different here.
Have a ‘bad meal’? Then just get straight back on it. No waiting until Monday and no letting yourself stary for too long. We have a saying in our gym that you’re ONLY ONE MEAL AWAY #OOMA!!
Feelings of guilt, shame and the need to punish yourself is where all the damage is done.
If you’re a weekend binge eater then you can read the blog post linked below on how to combat this:
The human body is a patient thing. Nothing seems to happen quickly with it. It takes years to grow and develop and likewise to deteriorate into old age and any small changes usually go unnoticed to your own eye due to the time it takes.
The problem is that our minds are so used to INSTANT things and BUY NOW PAY LATER concepts that we are unused to waiting for anything these days. You can get parcels delivered to your door in 24 hours but you have to wait months in order to see a significant change with fat loss? That just won’t do, will it?
What people fail to realise though is that some markers of improved health and fitness can be seen and felt in only a few short weeks…
– More energy,
– Better sleep,
– More Focus
And so the list goes on.
Don’t just measure your progress on the scales/tape measure alone and have some patience with these things. Also, do yourself a favour and don’t be too hard on yourself and believe others when they say you’re looking good.
Set yourself some realistic expectations and timescales…
I believe this one to be super important. Simply because we are our own worst enemy. We tend to be super harsh on ourselves and say things internally that we would never say to anyone else face to face.
Why is it we do this?
Too often we are hard on ourselves. So much so that we quickly talk ourselves out of our healthy regime due to not seeing any results before we have given it the time to pay off (see above regarding patience). And we Quit! Only to try again and again and again! But there are a few ways we can overcome this.
I suggest that you UNDERSTAND WHY you are doing what you are doing. What benefits it will grant you in the long term. Maybe you will live longer to see children and grandchildren grow? Maybe you will get a promotion at work? Or maybe you will just gain the confidence to get out and about again and learn to love life once more.
– External Accountability
Use others to help you! Tell people your goals and don’t stay silent because you think that others will think you silly or mad. People are more than willing to help you when they understand what is happening and why. So tell people about your goals, targets, milestones, timelines etc. They can then hold you accountable and keep you on track.
Who can you use to help to keep you accountable?
We all have habits. Some habits will move you towards your health and fitness goals, while other habits will take you away from them. Is late night snacking habit? A few drinks in the evening? Hitting that snooze button once too often? All habits that breed negativity and guilt, which leads to issues.
Getting up at the same time each day, drinking plenty of water daily, eating wholesome, home-cooked foods that include proteins and vegetables are habits that will help you towards your health and fitness targets.
Habit forming is such a big topic that it will be the point of another article.
So have a good look at your habits. Which ones help? Which ones hinder? And what you’re going to do about it.
The mind and the body like routine. So give them what they want and they are likely to come along for the ride without trying to trip you up too much. The brain simply wants you to survive and will do what is easiest in order to achieve this. Therefore it likes simplicity and efficiency and routine provides the brain with what it wants.
Look to go to bed at the same time, eat meals at the same times, have a routine that is the same each morning upon waking and just before going to bed. Even training at the same time and on the same days will help your body stick to things.
Keep things routine and you will keep things simple. Your body will thank you for it.
Do you have routines in your life? If not, then what can you do to create some?
Maybe it is to adopt a morning or bedtime routine? Perhaps it is to eat at the same time each day? How about that you will exercise 3 times per week routinely?
Pick your own that will benefit you and work on maintaining them. We will look to tie this in with a habit article we seem destined to write very soon.
Until then, there’s plenty to think about and more than a few things for you to be getting on with.