What if your success or failure in a new healthy pursuit has nothing to do with which foods you eat or the kinds of workouts you do? What if we didn’t have to keep looking for the magic bullet to be healthy and fit because all of the information we need to make lifestyle changes is already available?
Most know what it’s like to be on a health-and-fitness rollercoaster. We find out about a new fitness program or diet trend from one of our friends or the Internet. We do some basic research and, between the enthusiastic testimonials and dramatic before-and-after pictures, we decide this is the thing for us. We buy new workout clothes, get fitted for new sneakers, maybe we clean out our pantries in preparation for a sugar detox. We tweet about how excited we are (#newme). We know that this is the change we’ve needed and we can’t wait to get started.
We jump in with both feet: Our all-new fitness routine and diet overhaul have us feeling great. We’re chipper. We’re happy. We’re on a mission. We’re committed. But a couple of weeks later, the number on the scale has barely budged. We look in the mirror and can’t really tell: Do I look different??? In the fitness industry, this happens a lot in January. The start of a new year or a new season, or after a holiday or big event tends to trigger change. However, come February, often the novelty of the new lifestyle has worn off, and in the absence of the dramatic changes we were “promised”, makes it more difficult to get to the gym or wake up for that morning run. Compound this with, in some parts of the country, “cocooning” from shorter days and colder temperatures and the excitement we felt at first for this new habit, like exercise, can start to fizzle. The foods we were able to limit in the beginning are more tempting than ever. Cue the ice cream, bottle (or three) of wine, and the crushing feeling of failure. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Diets and training programs themselves aren’t all bad, but the way they’re marketed to us is the real problem. We are promised amazing, life-changing results. We are shown unbelievable examples of people who experience dramatic physical changes in almost no time at all. We are made to believe we’re buying into fail-proof plans to achieve the fit and healthy life of our dreams. If you do such-and-such just 20 minutes per day or this other thing just three times per week, you’ll lose weight, gain muscle, and become a superhero version of yourself!
Unfortunately the reality is that every training program and a clean eating diet requires hard work. They require consistency. Getting fit means working out when you don’t want to sometimes. It means committing beyond just a couple of weeks. For many people, it involves tracking food and workouts meticulously, at least in the beginning. It’s also figuring out how to become your own biggest motivator. At NRG 4 Life, we suggest personal training for this very reason. Meeting with a trainer not only will ensure you stick to your fitness routine, you’ll stay motivated. Not only will you have a program designed specifically for your needs, you’ll tend to stay with it because you’ve paid for the time with your trainer in a package and you’ve made appointments, so it’s not as easy to roll over and hit the snooze button. Getting to the gym is the hardest part for most people, hence the reason personal training is so popular and why we find it’s so effective.
Let’s examine why we may not have been as successful on our own. Marketers do what they do best—sell us on the ultimate outcome, the dream. And when we’re a few days or weeks into a new program or diet and realize we’re not seeing the amazing results we bought into, we think it must not be for us. Self-doubt creeps in, motivation seeps out, and before we know it, we’re back to old routines. If we were shown people barely managing to push through the most basic of workouts, people whose weight doesn’t change several months into a program, and people struggling to let go of their favorite snack foods, would we want to jump on board? If we knew in advance about the potential headaches, lethargy, and mood swings that can result from cutting our carbohydrate intake, would we pull out our wallets to shell out for cookbooks and meal plans? It’s not very likely.
It’s one of the first things we learn in school: Everyone is different. And it’s especially true when it comes to health and fitness. Our bodies react differently to certain types of training. Our stomachs handle different foods in a variety of ways. Some of us are excited for a workout that others dread. Unfortunately this kind of nuance tends to be absent from marketing and advertising, and we’re lead to believe that a given product is just perfect for us, no matter who we are or what we need.
But if that were truly the case, we would have cracked the code to health and happiness long ago, and no one would be struggling with their weight, their health, or even their body image the way so many of are today.
The best diet and the best workout program are the ones we can stick with. Each of us needs to find a workout program that we can consistently do. We need to get our bodies adapted to moving every single day. And we each need to find a way of eating healthy that works well within our lifestyle day in and day out.
To become healthier as individuals and as a society we need to become people who try different things, listen to our bodies, and find positive lifestyle changes that we can stick with for the long haul. There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all in the health and fitness world. There’s only what works for us as individuals. It might not be easy. (It won’t.) But it will be worth it especially if we look at it as a lifestyle change, not just a means to an end.
So, how do we figure out which diet and/or workout routine will truly will help us feel healthy and happy for the long haul? Start by asking yourself these questions:
The same goes for diet. You will benefit from a community of people eating the same way and providing recipes, ideas, and support to keep you motivated. Here at NRG 4 Life, we offer complimentary consultations with Kim, our nutrition coach.
By accepting that finding the right health and fitness program will involve trial and error and that whatever you settle on will take some hard work, you’ll bring yourself one step closer to the lifestyle that helps you be the best version of you. Here’s to being healthy and having more energy for you with a plan that’s as unique as you, no more cookie cutter approach!