I've had some random health and fitness thoughts rolling around my head for past couple weeks. In some cases, these are responses to things I've read or heard from other people. Others are just my thoughts about a particular topic. Most address common concerns or challenges that people have with respect to implementing healthier habits. Hopefully, my random thoughts give you more clarity as you work through your health and fitness programs!
We make or break our ability to achieve our health and fitness goals via our habits and behavior. Whether it's making time to prepare food for the week or a regular exercise program, how we use our free time has a profound impact on our health. If you feel like you don't have enough time, I'd encourage you to audit your schedule to see what, if any, time leaks exist. Understand that if your preference is to watch television or engage on social media you might be sacrificing opportunities to move closer to your fitness goals.
The better our foundation, the greater our ability to achieve our goals. Therefore, we must master the fundamentals. If you're unable to consistently exercise or eat lean protein and vegetables at every meal, then advanced strategies don't matter. The value of strategies like intermittent fasting, nutrient timing or a specific type of workout program will never be realized without the fundamentals in place first. Focus on eating the right mix of protein, carbs, vegetables and fats. Figure out how you can consistently get to the gym 3 times per week AND maximize the quality of the work that you do while you're there. You'll find that focusing here will yield improved results that are sustainable over the long haul. Chasing a magic bullet will not.
In the beginning, many things work. Your body is changing because it's all new. As you build that foundation your body will adapt. Your interests and goals may change. Make sure that your program and nutrition strategy support your goals. If your goal is to gain strength, a program that is heavy on low intensity cardio will be counterproductive. If you're training for a marathon, a bodybuilder-style split routine would not be appropriate. Determine how your program should evolve to suit your needs and continue getting after it!
At the same time, the notion of "sport specific" strength training for a younger athlete is a bit of misnomer. A 14-year old doesn't need a golf-specific training in the spring and football-specific training in the summer. Instead, our approach for young athletes is generally the same regardless of sport – build a solid foundation by getting stronger and develop all facets of athleticism. Their improved athletic ability will carry over to any sport they might choose.
This quote popped up in my feed the other day:
A disciplined habit never runs on-autopilot. That’s an undisciplined habit.
A disciplined habit is something you choose each time. A disciplined habit requires constant effort. A disciplined habit doesn’t get easier, you get better and faster.
If you’re building habits, don’t aim for ease and automation of effort. Focus on improving speed and skill of decisions and actions. That is the presence of effort, not the absence of it.
The practice of mindful eating really helps to illustrate this point. When we eat fast or with distractions present, like the television, it's very easy to overconsume calories. In those moments we're running on autopilot. However, when we slow down and discipline ourselves to eat mindfully, we benefit by consuming fewer calories and ultimately feeling better both mentally and physically.
Sometimes, we just don't feel like doing the workout. Our default response might be to avoid, delay, or altogether skip it. When we turn off the autopilot and recognize that something is better than nothing, we again reap the benefits of that discipline.
Our activity levels go a long way toward determining our longevity. It's why some of my 60-year old clients move and perform better than a 30-year old who’s sedentary. The more we challenge our body in different planes and ranges of motion, the longer we'll feel and move well. Conversely, if you have a low level of activity, how your body moves and feels will get exponentially worse as you age. Use it or lose it!
I understand that people like variety, however there also has to be some consistency. Too much variety can lead to us feeling lost, because with so many choices, it's hard to focus on a single direction.
Within an exercise program that means I'm always going to incorporate foundational exercises like squats, deadlifts, push-ups and pull-ups, just to name a few. While it may look cool, standing on a BOSU ball juggling dumbbells isn't going to elicit much of a result unless you're trying out for the circus. Variety can be created in how the program is organized, the sets and reps used or which accessory exercises you include. But pick several staple exercises that form the core of your program and get really, really good at them.
Variety within the diet is a good thing, provided things don't get too complicated. Personally, I like to make enough food to have leftovers for at least two meals. During the week, we have several different vegetables, chicken, beef and fish and usually one of rice, potatoes or quinoa made in bulk. We have many ways to mix and match our meals, but having certain staple foods makes it easier to plan.
In the beginning, it's tempting to overhaul your diet and workout schedule. To wit, committing to eating only baked chicken and broccoli while working out 6 times per week is a recipe for failure when you don't currently exercise and hate veggies. Instead, pick one thing to focus on, like incorporating regular exercise 2-3 times per week, and ruthlessly adhere to it. It will get easier. As it does, add in an extra day or start mixing in a new nutrition discipline. Remember, there are no quick fixes – you're in it for the long haul. Build the skills and enjoy the journey!
Repeatable processes and systems have a profoundly positive impact on how my day flows. I'm also amazed at how everything is thrown off if I miss a step in the process. For example, on Sunday I cut up veggies that I’d like to use for the week. I prepare some chicken or other protein that I can reuse for the next day or two. It makes my whole week flow much easier.
Before I go to bed, I lay out my clothes for the next day and follow the same 3-4 steps each morning when I wake up. By planning ahead, I remove excess decisions. When I miss a step in the process, I stumble around like a zombie until I right the ship.
Random programs give random results. At Vitalifit, we create programs that are tailored to your specific needs. We organize them according to your goals, while helping to create a logical path for you to follow. Ultimately, we're going to figure out, together, what the right course of action is for you, and then get after it! You'll NEVER show up at the gym wondering what you should do that day. If you’re looking to improve your health and wellness contact us today to join the Vitalifit Coaching Program that is right for you.