I believe fitness and health should be like that beach life many of us seek on an annual basis…simple and fun. No complicated formulas, complex diets, or overly structured and rigorous workouts few can sustain long-term.
Nutrition should be about healthy choices and simplicity. Choose foods that are God-given, not man-made. Eat meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Limit your intake of foods that were processed in a factory. Eat when you are hungry but remember food is fuel. When your tank is full, stop filling it.
Exercise should be fun, something you enjoy. When I played high school basketball, I swore I would never run again once Coach Kelly was no longer there to blow the whistle and make me run. In the spring semester of my sophomore year of college I went outside to play sand volleyball with my fraternity brothers. When I took my shirt off and looked down, I realized a half dozen donuts and a quart of milk before bedtime each night wasn’t working out well for my physique. I put my shirt back on, went back to my apartment, and went for a run. What started as a chore eventually became a favorite pastime, a way to relieve stress, listen to God, and connect with myself. What was once an activity I or someone else forced me to do gradually became a beloved way to a healthier lifestyle…mentally, physically, and emotionally.
I’ve seen many clients start a road to a healthier lifestyle with a rigorous diet and exercise parameters that are too aggressive for a beginner to sustain. They often start with the best of intentions but lack the self-discipline or physical capacity to sustain their new way of life for more than 5-7 days. They typically become overwhelmed, sore, and bored within a relatively short time period and revert back to an old way of life.
I recommend starting with small changes for both nutrition and exercise. Choose an activity you like…or at least don’t loathe. Start with 15-20 minutes, two or three days a week. As you adopt that way of life and adjust your schedule to incorporate fitness as part of your daily routine, gradually increase your frequency, intensity, and duration.
-Brian Smith, PT, MS