(Tony Horton, trainer & creator of P90X)
I heard the term ‘flexitarian’ a few years back, and to me it epitomized my philosophy when it came to food and fitness. Finding extremes too EXTREME, I was sick of feeling pressure to be all or nothing when it came to eating, my fitness, or anything else for that matter. Yes, eating well & exercise are important. But so were my time, happiness and desires. I didn’t want a life being a slave to junk food, snickers bars & being unhappy with my body. But I didn’t want to feel guilty every time I ate something with sugar in it.
I had friends who were vegans & vegetarians who would turn up their nose every time I had a piece of cheese, or talked about bacon. I knew those who had started a war against diet coke (not that it’s good for you… I’ll tell you to avoid it too if you can, but ALSO not to feel guilty if you have one every now and then). I knew people who thought vegans were elitist, silly, beings who’s outlook on food was warped since humans are supposed to be omnivores. Studies will show you positives and negatives for literally every single diet out there, yet so many people think their way is the only way. It’s a little nuts (and super confusing for those just starting out!).
Look, no one’s perfect. And life is not a ‘one-size fits all’ thing. Being healthy & learning to be healthier is what it’s ALL about, but everyone will find their own way to get there. And healthy, includes your mental space as well. Change is stressful enough without feeling like you’re being judged by someone.Runners will tell you that running’s the shit. For them, it is. But running’s not for me. Kickboxers will tell you that kickboxing is the ultimate total body workout. So will dancers. So will cross-fitters. And they’re all right: for them. The thing is, even though cross fit is awesome, if it doesn’t connect with the personality of the person doing it? They won’t do it. They won’t like it. They won’t stick to it. It’s not just a matter of wills, it’s a matter of personality. (hence why I HATE when crossfitters rag on other types of fitness, or girl’s lifting small weights. Don’t get me wrong, I agree: heavy is better for their physiques! But I’d rather see them in the gym, getting active, doing things in a way that encourages them to get their butts moving… than too intimidated to go at all). Everyone gets to where they need to be, in their own way.
I’ve got fitness A.D.D. My workouts need to be challenging, different, intense & fun… or I won’t stick with them long. Hence why I try a little of everything. I loved doing my Insanity challenge… but I wouldn’t stick with it for more than 30 days. I craved something new by day 30. I LOVE to dance, but dance workouts don’t always give me the butt-busting intensity I need. I like trying things like Parkour, because it takes me completely OUT of my element, but will I stick with it? Maybe not. TurboKick is my heart, but after years of it as my soulmate workout, I needed to do other things because it got a little BORING (that pains me to say, like you have no idea. I still teach it: that’s where my passion for it is still red hot). If anything, doing other things has intensified my love for my favorite workouts. I just have more favorites.
Tony Horton (creator of P90X) posted a REALLY insightful article about our ‘Food Wars’. I see these sentiments all the time in my dashboard on Tumblr, and in posts from the web. I know, I know. It works for YOU. But that doesn’t mean that something better isn’t out there or that the same eating plan/program will work for everyone. Everyone’s different, not only biologically but personality wise. So while your program might be amazing, don’t impose it on others. Live your life by example, do your thing & let your healthy freak flag fly. And keep yourself open! You might not ALWAYS want to do what you’re doing, and trying other diets & lifestyles may actually be beneficial to you (even if it only reconfirms your LOVE for the way you’re doing it now).
Stay open. Lose the judgment. Not everything’s black & white.
Read Tony’s article below!
I recently posted a news story about Novak Djokovic, the Serbian professional tennis player who started winning shortly after he switched to a raw, dairy free, gluten free, vegan diet. No surprise that readers from all ends of the dietary spectrum rose up to defend their own ways of eating — many of which included meat, wheat, milk and/or liberal use of an oven.
In my opinion, the real lesson here is that no single diet philosophy works for everyone. How can you believe that a 22-year-old ultra-marathoner and a 42-year-old desk-jockey who doesn’t own a pair of running shoes, have the same diet? It’s ridiculous.
Even if you think you’ve found the perfect diet, making adjustments based on your ever-changing needs — especially as you get older and wiser — is perfectly normal. I was a vegan for years, but I was losing weight (not my intention) eating just veggies, fruit, beans and nuts — so I simply changed my strategy. I still eat tons of veggies, but I’m now a free-range chicken, wild salmon and other healthy fish-eating type of guy. I’m also discovering that the less gluten I eat, the better it is for my body and brain chemistry.
For some crazy reason it seems to be important for us to segregate diets into rigid categories, like we do religions or political parties. Vegan, paleolithic, raw, pescetarian or vegetarian. I call myself a flexetarian — that way I don’t need to defend any particular food faith.
That said, I think there are a couple guidelines we all need to keep in mind. Hunger, survival, cravings, boredom, taste and performance are some of the reasons why we eat what we do. If you don’t find ways to stay accountable and exercise then boredom, cravings or those addictive “comfort foods” will take you down in the end. Restrictive diets that cut out favorite flavors will almost always lead to deprivation — and deprivation often leads to bad eating habits. The key to success is finding an eating plan that makes you feel good while eating it. If you do that then you’ll stop the weight-loss-weight-gain cycle… (cont).