Wednesday, November 2, 2016

But will you be doing it in 5 years?

This question, "but will you be doing it in 5 years?" is my go-to question regarding everything health and fitness related.

We are bombarded every single day with headlines screaming "lose 10lbs in two weeks" and "10 minutes to perfect abs" and "get the body you want in 30 days" but really, if any one of those plans worked in the long term, we wouldn't need any of the other get-fit-quick plans. And yet every month, magazines publish the same things. Every day on the internet we are hit over and over again with similar get-fit-quick ideas. These plans are everywhere. Why? Because they work? No! Precisely because they don't work. Even if you lose 10lbs in 2 weeks, you aren't going to instantly have washboard abs or your fittest body. What you're likely lost is a bunch of water weight, some muscle mass and a tiny bit of fat.

So now you're done your get-fit-quick plan. You've starved yourself and exercised like crazy to drop those 10lbs in two weeks and now you're ready to eat normally again. What's the first thing that happens? Your body starts holding water again. Your muscles fill with glycogen again which means you have energy again but you know what else you have? More weight. Yep, you can gain back all that weight and more in a couple of days! Now you're feeling uncomfortable in your skin again, so you pick up a fitness magazine and you jump right into the next quick fix. Sound familiar?

So what's the real answer? What does long term health success look like? Before you begin anything fitness/health related ask yourself this: will I be doing this in 5 years? If you can truly say yes, you are on the right path to fitness for your life.

For me, the things I can see myself doing and have been doing for 5 years or more are the following:
1) Tracking food. For over 10 years I have recorded most or all of my food intake. This works for me but not for everyone.
2) 5-7 workouts per week. Again, this works for me. I like the gym. I like lifting weights. I like the sweat of a good cardio session. This plan works for me because I enjoy it so it doesn't feel like something I have to do, but something I get to do.
3) Keeping a high protein intake. Because I do track my food, I can see how much better I feel on days where I have a good amount of protein. It's manageable to me to include protein in 95% of my snacks and meals.
4) Beachbody. When I don't feel like going to or don't have access to a gym, a 30 minute at home workout is more than manageable. This allows me to enjoy group exercise type workouts which I love but without having to go crazy trying to fit them into my hectic schedule.

What hasn't been feasible for 5 years or more? This list could be much longer! Just a few things that I tried but couldn't truly see myself doing in 5 years: keto, paleo, south beach diet, meal prepping, competition dieting, vegetarian eating, gluten free, long-distance running, juicing, barre method, bikram yoga,..I could go on and on!

The point? Find what you love. Find what works for you. Find what is manageable and enjoyable for you and your life. Find what fits into your life. Find what you can reasonably see yourself doing for 5 years or more and then do it! Stop the quick fixes and short-term thinking. Health is lifelong journey, not a sprint or even a marathon. There is no end date on healthy living so whatever you do to improve your health, ask: will I be doing this in 5 years?

1 comment:

  1. Great advice. For me it starting to figure skate again at 35....I knew I liked it as a kid but I quit at 12 and got lost in teenage years. It started as a way to meet people in a new city, but quickly because an important part of my week. Still is all these years later although older knees don't allow jumping anymore. I've added in pilates and some gym - both of which help me keep ice dancing.