Raquel, a long-time client of mind, looked at me despairingly.
“I’m going to have to wait until my mom gets healthy to start exercising.” she said. “There is just too much going on right now.”
Raquel hasn’t been the only client to put a pause on pursuing a healthy life. “I’ll resume healthy eating after my Hawaii trip, after my dad gets healthy, on Monday, January 1, once I get a promotion.” I’ve heard it all.
Don’t get me wrong. Many of these are legit excuses (except waiting until Monday…that’s just silly.). But, the pause feature can really set you back in your pursuit of a healthy life.
One thing i’ve learned in 10 years in the fitness world is people are all or nothing.
When someone misses a workout on Monday, the likelihood of them making it to their next session drops drastically. If a client doesn’t do the first day of their nutrition habit, the chances of them succeeding most days are slim to none.
For some reason, people feel if they can’t be perfect, it’s not worth trying at all.
They think, “I’ll just wait until Monday, or after _____ problem is gone from my life.”
I love a good perfectionist.
It’s commendable to want to be the best version of yourself. It’s good to strive for excellence in your health and fitness.
But unless you are to become a victim of your circumstances, you need to get rid of the pause feature mentality for good.
We indulge during the holiday season. A little extra apple pie. More beer and wine. And figgy pudding too.
The comforting thought of our diet and exercise plan starting afresh once the new year kicks off fuels our food-induced coma.
In fact, we’ve learned in our nutrition coaching programs that the idea of a do-over is so alluring you don’t even need a mess-up for the pause-button mentality to take over.
Whether it’s starting again tomorrow, next week, or after the big life event is over, justifying not exercising is comforting.
The pause feature on your fitness during times of high stress or inconvenience gives you an interlude from what can be a really hard time. We are further comforted by the magical thought of starting again once things have calmed down.
It’s really hard to be fit while there are stressors in life. That’s why we see so many quick-fix diets, shake programs, and crazy exercise programs. Because, what person can pursue eating clean for more than 30 days? These shorts sprints of healthful living only equip us with the discipline to live healthy lives for short periods of time. They don’t teach us the skill of being fit amidst the normal ebbs and flows of life.
To quote Napolean Dynamite, “chicks dig a guy with skills.” And crash diets and cleanses don’t build skills.
Instead, build healthy habits, figure out how to establish routines, and cultivate a renewed mindset about your fitness.
I have had the yoyo diet conversation with a anonymous family member since I first read about it in Men’s health when I was 12.
“Why are you continuing to do this if it’s not working?” I asked finally.
“Well…it’s works for a while. I just don’t stick with it long enough, something comes up, or I take a break.”
“But once I’m done with the holidays, I’ll start anew!”
When life isn’t perfect, which is most of the time, he hits the pause button. He works so stinkin’ hard to lose weight and get fit, and throws it away by waiting for greener pastures.
So, next time you’re considering a pause, ask yourself this simple question, “What will be different when you come back?”
My guess is that if you’re honest with yourself, the answer will be nothing.
Don’t press pause, adjust the volume
What we need to do is think of our health and fitness as a dial (Credit to Precision Nutrition for the dial idea and the graphics below).
There are times when I turn the volume up and times when I turn it down.
6 months after I finished wrestling in College, I weighed in at nearly 200 pounds (30 pounds heavier than my wrestling weight.) Something about eating like I was still wrestling everyday and not exercising like crazy made me gain weight. Go figure. So I turned the dial up. I lifted weights 6 days a week, ran 3, and started eating a strict diet. I’d say my dial level was a 9/10 at the time.
Recently, we’ve had a baby, started a business, and I finished PT school. Things have been busy. My fitness dial has been turned down. But certainly not off. We still strive to cook often and eat pretty healthy. I go to two of our sessions at Village each week and run or ride my bike a few times as well. I’d say my nutrition and fitness are at about a 5/10 now.
I’m totally ok with that. What’s important is that the dial is set to “on” and not how high it is.
Here are a few amazing infographics from Precision Nutrition talking about various levels of the movement, nutrition, and wellness dials.
The key to is always be doing something.
Marian was a client of mine back when we were in Davis. She exemplified the dial method.
When we first started working together, she was determined to lose 30 pounds. She did it. She turned her fitness and nutrition dial up to a 9 or 10 and was able to turn off other areas of her life to make it happen.
Then, her brother got sick. She was the one responsible for caring for him. It would have been so easy and justifiable to do nothing and not take care of herself. But instead, she simply turned her dial back down. We only met for sessions once per week. She did 3 quick body-weight workouts on her own at home and walked daily.
When she came out of her hard season of life, she was still fit and healthy.
I don’t know where you are in life. Maybe you’re a new empty-nester and have the time and energy to turn the dial to a 8 or 9. Maybe you have a new baby and need to scale things way back to a 1 or 2. Move the dial so you can stick with your health and fitness regardless of your current circumstances.
Do the best you can with what you have where you are. That’s what’s most important
If you need help, shoot me an email at Matt@Villagefitnessglendora.com or reach out on Facebook.
That’s all for today,