Oh the anguish of it all. You’ve had a great several days in a row of eating clean and healthy, keeping your calories in a helpful range for weight loss or maintenance, and feeling great about your food choices. Then it happens, you have a day or days where it all goes to crap – crappy food that is!
I hear it time and time again, clients stressing about the fact that they ate poorly for a period of time. To them it’s like an epic failure, a set back sometimes too huge to come back from. The amount of self-inflicted emotional abuse people shovel upon themselves when they make poor food choices is enough to make anyone want to sit down and shove an entire cake in their mouth.
Then begins what I call the helter-skelter period of regaining control of their fitness goals by over-restricting calories, over-abusing their workouts, and a lot of self-criticism about their “weakness” where food is concerned. Come on now, who wants to live like this? Life is too short for this much anxiety about food!
If you’ve read any of my posts, or trained with me, you know one thing for certain about my approach to fitness – all things in moderation. That means high-caloric, sugary-fatty-alcoholic foods too.
When we deprive ourselves of something we enjoy, and in particular when we assign a label of “cheat” or “bad” to said thing, we set ourselves up for a binging of that item somewhere down the line, followed by guilty feelings and disappointment in ourselves that manifest into a frenzied attack on our bodies to right this apparent wrong.
Listen all you lovely well-intentioned humans – you are human – which means you are prone to whims, and impulsiveness, and the joy of spontaneity and choice. So cut yourself some slack. It’s not cheating, it’s not bad – it’s just not as healthy or as conducive to your fitness goals as other choices, but hey, eat the cupcake, enjoy the wine, savor that cheeseburger. It’s one day (or vacation period). As long as you keep your daily food to moderate level (i.e., do not eat four cheeseburgers in a day), your body will quickly shed that extra fat (not weight) which your day(s) of variation from the norm caused.
Author Timothy Ferris’ approach to weight loss (The 4-Hour Body) includes one day of high-calorie-sugars-fats-alcohol per week! His philosophy (which he feels is scientific fact) states: “…spiking caloric intake once a week increases fat-loss by ensuring that your metabolic rate (thyroid function and conversation of T4 to T3, etc.) doesn’t downshift from extended caloric restriction.” In other words, according to Mr. Ferris, one day a week of eating anything you like can actually help you lose fat. It’s up to you whether you want to follow his method, but regardless it’s just another way of me saying to you DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT.
A life lived with consistent moderation of nutrition and exercise along with periodic enjoyment of higher-caloric foods and non-exercise is a well-balanced life and leads directly to a happy head (emotional state), which is the gateway to a healthy body.
“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness” ~Leo Tolstoy.
One of my missions as I endeavor to spread physical and emotional health via Dane Life Fitness is to help Women find their self-esteem, and not be martyrs. The number one culprit behind women’s’ feelings of inferiority, jealousy, and lack of appreciation of what and who they are is the ever-in-your-face demand that we be physically perfect. As I scour DLF’s pinterest site (www.pinterest.com/danelifefit) daily, I am saddened by how many posts are focused on quick ab fixes, ab challenges, killer thigh and butt routines, and boost your metabolism diets — all affixed to photos of 20-something fitness models who spend 6-8 hours a day exercising, eating specifically limited diets, posing with just the right lighting, and of course, photo re-touching! There is NO way your average 30-50 year old woman (whether career woman, stay home mom, or both) can compete.
My clients vent why can’t I look like J-Lo, or Heidi Klum?! My response, because you’re not them! You are you, you have a different set of circumstances. You must work with what and who you are. Yet off they go, sweating away precious hours of life all the while miserable, or following fad diets to little success — again feeling deprived and unhappy. So I ask, what price do we pay for fitness. How many hours of your day, week, month, year — life — do you spend exercising? How many hours a day to you think (and in some people’s’ case agonize) about what you will/should eat, when, how much, and how it will affect you? Is your quest for fitness enhancing your life, or draining away your spirit?
A gentleman named Tim Ferriss wrote a book (“The Four-Hour Body”) in which he outlines a plan of minimal exercise, minimal sleep, and minimal food choices to achieve rapid weight loss and physical fitness. Some of his theories fly in the face of conventional fitness (i.e., claims that cold showers can burn calories; no dairy except for cottage cheese; no whole grains or fruit of any kind; minimal weekly exercise, and a binge day once a week). Many busy, exercise-hating individuals will find Mr. Ferriss‘ plan enticing to say the least. However, I again look at how much happiness there is to be had in such a restrictive diet, cold showers, and for me who loves exercise, an absence in my daily dose of exercise-induced endorphins.
But happiness is ultimately in the hands of the beholder. Decide what/who you want to be and what makes you happy. If you like exercise and are a fruit-a-holic — then go for it — in moderation, and be happy. If you hate exercise and want to eat the same few things day after day so you don’t have to think about it and can spend the rest of your time enjoying all that life has to offer — go for it and be happy.
For me, life is best served in moderation.
Take care of the have-to’s and the need-to’s, but make sure to do some of the want-to’s as well. This applies to everything from how you spend your money to your exercise or what you eat. There are certain have-to’s when it comes to exercise and nutrition (walk, stretch, hydrate) and definitely some need-to’s (resistance training, cardio, 4 servings of veggies and fruit), but do not forget the want-to‘s as they are often the most rewarding (rollerblading, dancing, ice-cream).
Fitness is different that physical perfection. Be fit. Be healthy. Make sure whatever you do allows your body to move the way it needs to, have energy, have a healthy internal system (circulation, heart, lungs). Then you will have fitness but not at the expense of happiness.