Before you read any further, the conclusion is, before you start a gym membership or a diet, ask yourself, ‘Do I see myself doing this in 5 years?’ If not, it’s highly likely you are going to struggle to reach your goal or even go further to maintain the results. ‘The only diet that works is the one you stick to’. ‘You are what you eat’. What these popular statements are basically addressing is your lifestyle not your goals.
I have been on my fitness journey for about 3 and half years now. In the last two years I set a goal to get a six pack, though this goal is still ongoing, this was where my changes really began. What started out as a fitness goal, transitioned into a lifestyle. I found that as I did research about how to reach my goal, I found so much more info that it became difficult not to do better, since I knew better. ‘Ignorance is bliss’, yes; my blissful days which equated to little to no results were over! Things my mother said to me growing up now resonated. She used to say things like,’ You are what you eat and, ‘Drink more water’. When I had a headache she simply said, ‘Drink more water!’, never automatically handing me paracetamol! (Seriously, shout out to mum, for sowing some good seeds). So what seemed like nagging remarks, growing up have become basic principles that I have gradually incorporated into my lifestyle and before I knew it, I was ‘team healthy lifestyle’.
When fitness became a lifestyle, I discovered I don’t really need a gym; you can get some exercise anywhere. Instead of taking two buses, you can actually walk the shorter distance and then take a bus for the longer distance. Instead of paying a monthly subscription, invest in a mat, jump rope and some dumbbells that make exercising more convenient. When I don’t feel like doing hard work, I do 20mins of strength training which comprises of weighted squats, lunges, and lower body drills such as mountain climbers. These can be done while watching news at 7. If the weather is terrible and I can’t afford to run a long distance, for fear of heavy showers falling midway my run, I whip out my jump rope and take to the pavement. If I walk 3 – 5K during the day that equates to an exercise session and I don’t feel the need to go all out and exercise. All I need to do is set my Nike App on my ipod or iphone to track my miles once on a repeated route. From then on, I automatically know, how long this distance is.
Now, I usually have a second thought before I eat certain things that I have knowledge about.
I have not really given up foods that generally don’t affect me, but I now monitor how certain foods affect my energy level, skin and even weight. If it turns out they do, I minimise consumption with intent to cut out eventually. For example, I breakout after eating cheese, which called diary into question. As an adolescent my mum had suggested giving up diary for a while, but it wasn’t until someone else had said it recently that I really looked into it. I saw a dramatic improvement in my skin. I always had a can of coke in my handbag; this was the cause of my bloating. I usually felt slow and sluggish just before afternoon, turns out bread for breakfast was the culprit. Now much as I would love a cheese sandwich and coke, I know it will result in breakout, blot and sluggish feeling. Do I want to look and feel that way? No! All this, before even taking into account the calorie count!
If I am at a friend’s house, or out with a group, I eat anything and everything! Bring on the cheese and wine! Which is the great thing about lifestyle! My lifestyle allows it because; my lifestyle awareness knows these occasions won’t be more than 3 in a week, so I don’t mind handing over the reins. This still leaves at least 90% of the week’s meals dependant entirely on me. That 90% is made up of healthy meal choices. No fizzies, loads of greens etc. The point being it’s more of feeding the general picture rather than mastering will power to diet from meal to meal.
When am hungry, I eat! Between morning and 8pm, I consciously eat 5 times. If I workout late, I eat (re-fuel) at whatever time I finish the workout. This could be as late as 9.30pm
I didn’t arrive at a happy medium all at once, I went on adjusting, realising skipping meals wasn’t the way and neither was rigorous calorie counting. I went from white bread to brown bread to no bread, over a period of time. Because I drink so much tea, I went from 2.5 spoons to 1 per cuppa. I went from cereal bars and yoghurt breaks to nuts and bananas. I went from loads of tea cups to more water and lemon water. So I go along making adjustments. The same is true for exercise, but that’s another blog post.
Obviously there is also the argument that fitness goals will frustrate you as they did me, initially. Not seeing my abs after the 12 month fitness goal I put in place, could have caused me to just give up, forgetting that the healthier choices I have gone on to make, are scientifically proven to contribute massively to my overall health and well being long term, not just my short term six pack plan. The lesser is included in the greater.
‘So in the end, it’s not really targeted living, the key is using the knowledge found along the way to make better long term decisions.’ ~ COCO