Fitness, health and nutrition are full of extremes. There are always going to be people out there that will take something recreational and run away with it. Not to say this is always a bad thing, but it is not sustainable. It is not something you can do for the rest of your life. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for setting challenges for yourself and training for that specific challenge, but if you are not an athlete and looking to attain high status in a sport, going to the extremes with your fitness, nutrition and your approach to health should be carefully weighed. (Pun intended)
Most of us involved in fitness have straight forward goals. We want to look good naked in front of the mirror or we want to move well for our recreational sport. The unfortunate part about that is, in this social media culture we live in today, we are inundated with pictures of people that have the six pack and eight pack abs, completely chiseled all over with barely an ounce of fat on them. In one word, “Perfect”. Now, we compare ourselves to these mostly photoshopped people and measure our self-worth against these Greek Gods and Goddesses. Most of us intrinsically know that this type of body is unrealistically attainable without extreme dedication to exercising and measuring every portion of food, yet we still judge ourselves against this mirage that is social media.
The fact that these people attain this level of dedication and focus is very impressive, but the issue I see with that is, the extremes these people go to to get these results. Not only do they watch every morsel of food that goes in their mouth and are training 6 and 7 days a week, but now there is the pressure to remain at that level. Yes, some will say that it is a lifestyle and an acquired lifestyle at that, but for your everyday working mother and father of 2, is an extreme diet and 6% body fat attainable and sustainable?
My philosophy when it comes to health and fitness is simple. Understand what hasn’t worked for you, explore and discover what does work for you, stay consistent with what works 80% of the time and you will get the results you want. If your approach is not something you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life is it worth doing?
This is not a copout to say you shouldn’t work your ass off for your goals, but what I am saying is find a program that works for you and follow that program more times than not and you will succeed. The issue is, we see and hear about the quick fixes all the time and our brain, wanting to avoid suffering and experience pleasure as quickly as possible, wants to go to the quick fix (ie freezing fat cells, plastic surgery, fat loss pills, shitty supplement based diets etc). Moreover, these diets do not require you to make any positive changes in your life, the positive mental, emotional, physical and spiritual changes necessary for true growth. "Just take this and you’ll be cured". All these ploys play on our insecurities and lack of self-acceptance. The same insecurities and self-acceptance issues that got us in this predicament in the first place. If we work on our mindset and self-acceptance, we won’t be drawn to the extremes of quick fixes and comparing ourselves to models in magazines or on social media. Through self-acceptance, we can be less judgmental of ourselves, give less shits of what other people think we should be and work on ourselves for the long run.
By taking the time to find the path we want to go on, we can start to walk that path. This path is not a tight rope. It is wide enough to wobble, and zig zag. There is room for mistakes without the pitfalls of flagellation and self judgement. Recognize your goals are for the long run and work on a mindset of self-acceptance along the way and you are sure to succeed. We are aiming for progress, not perfection.