We’re all different, and you gotta do YOU.
YOU includes a history that you need to work with to make the best decisions for your body: the way you approach your diet and training needs to work for all of “you”.
Some people are totally amazing at moderation. They can have treats in the house, and eat them when desired, without finishing the whole box or bag. Others might struggle more with it, and having treats in the house is too much pressure for them. They might feel like willpower failures, but the truth is they aren’t. All it means is that in order to make the best decisions for themselves, they might need to be more diligent about controlling their environment. That’s empowerment, not weakness: a former alcoholic who refuses to keep booze in the house isn’t weak, but rather doing what they need to do. The same goes for people who might need to calorie count and those that don’t. Or those that need trainers/buddies to workout and those that don’t (sometimes you’re better off with friends and sometimes, it’s not the best for you). When you employ techniques, sometimes you need to base them on WHO YOU ARE. Not necessarily who you’d like to be. In short, it means keeping them realistic to your current situation.
If you can’t seem to commit to an hour a day, there’s nothing wrong with 20 minutes. If you can’t ever seem to make a morning workout, maybe a different time works best. If you have tried and absolutely HATE broccoli, there’s no need to eat it. There are far too many veggies in the world for broccoli to be the end all be all. Try something else.
I’d love to be the person who can keep treats in the house and never touch them. But I’m not that person. If I buy them, I’ll eat them. If I eat them, I often feel shitty on the inside and my workouts/life suffer for it. I’d also love to be the kind of person who loves going to the gym, but I’m not. At-home workouts are what works best for me, and I focused my energy on making them awesome with tools, research and by making my space conducive to home sweating. I used to feel guilty about this (as a trainer, I suppose it’s weird to hate gyms), but I realized there are loads of people like me who can benefit from at-home training experiences. I simply stick to what I do best and kick as much ass with it as I can.
In addition to your routines, your goals should also reflect your own self-awareness. My example would be the fact that I’m not pursuing goals related to incredible leanness, six packs or getting the lowest body fat percentage possible. For some (especially those competing), these are goals they attribute to success and they work really hard to get there. For me - due to my history- these are goals I attribute to disorder: it can be dangerous for me to focus too heavily on aesthetics or numbers. I don’t feel empowered when I micromanage my diet: I feel out of control. I don’t feel good about measuring my body fat percentage against other people: I feel obsessed. It would be very easy for me to pursue those goals, especially with the support I’d have from MANY awesome people. I even feel as though I “could” do it and keep my body in fairly good health too (or at least try). But because of my history - because of my self-awareness OF that history - I’d be poking a sleeping dragon. It wouldn’t be healthy for me to pursue those goals given my history with body image and food.
I used to think that if I “really” wanted it, I should be able to overcome those issues and still pursue the fitness ‘ideal’. The thing is, that’s not true. It merely started a cycle of guilt and shame. I feel empowered BY the fact that I can recognize what’s best for me now - it wasn’t always the case. I’m proud of myself for maintaining what I consider a pretty healthy relationship with diet and exercise for years now. My body likes what I’ve been doing: my PCOS has almost completely disappeared. My hormones have been easier to manage. I’m not as sick as I used to be and have better energy. I’m pretty stoked about it.
While I will support ANY goal you have (including ones of competing if that’s your thing or of six packs), all I ask is that you take a good look at yourself and decide if they are right for you. My goals aren’t your goals, nor do they need to be. When measuring my success, I take a look at the goals I set for myself after careful consideration and thought, and I have to say, I’m doing pretty good. When measuring your success, you need to do the same with your own goals.
My goals now…
- Be happy
- Stay healthy
- Get better in certain aspects of my fitness (strength, power, endurance, agility etc)
- Get better at eating to fuel my goals and energy (figuring out what works best for my body through trial and error and yumminess). Getting older here, so it’s starting to become more of a priority. This girl simply can’t eat the way she used to: junk food hangovers are a new thing to me and dear god they suck. Plus, I’m starting to really see the connection between my diet, healthy, energy and my fitness performance goals.
- Have fun and enjoy my workouts
- Never feel deprived or hungry again
- Love and be proud of my body, even as it changes shapes, gains a little weight or needs to recover.
- Not beat myself up for anything. Ever. Fall down. Giggle. Get up.
My goals used to be…
- Get as lean as possible through incredible restriction, diligence and over training.
- Get as close to 100lbs as possible (I laugh at that now, but it’s true. I had no concept that it wasn’t possible for my body)
- Win at life because of those two things. Happiness, respect, success and pride were things I attributed to having an ideal bod. (I can’t believe how crazy that was, but I see it mirrored in every other question I receive on my blog. I’m not alone there)
I like my goals now better. And they work MUCH better for me.
So today’s takeaway is to examine where you ARE, where you’d like to be, and where you’ve been. Take a good hard look at the goals you’ve set for yourself and ask if they are truly working for you. If so, good on ya. If not, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with setting up new ones for yourself. At the end of the day, what WORKS for you has to work FOR you. And that might require an attitude shift and some soul searching.
It’s hard to let go of old habits, thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and ideas of what will make you happy or get you where you want to go. But all you need to ask yourself is “how is that working for me?”. If all you’re ending up with is frustration, misery, stress, anxiety and feelings of failure… well, it might be time to change things up, don’t you think?
Whether it’s recognizing that your training buddy is holding you back, that your diet is too restrictive, that your workout schedule isn’t working for you or that what you’re doing isn’t bringing you joy, it’s your prerogative to find alternatives that make you feel more awesome, even if it means replacing old goals with new ones.