What type of diet should I follow? Which type of exercise will deliver the best results? These are among the most common questions I hear. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” answer: truthfully, the training style that will work best for you are the ones that you can stick with.
It’s important that you don’t put yourself in a box. If there’s one thing that drives me crazy in the fitness industry, it’s how easily people become divided into “tribes”. On the nutrition front, you have your passionate Vegan tribe in one corner, your passionate Paleo tribe in another, both claiming that their diet and lifestyle is the absolute best, and with scientific studies to prove their point.
Then, there are the exercise regimens. You have hardcore runners and hardcore weightlifters, Soul Cycle, CrossFit, Bodybuilding, Yoga, Pilates, Boxing and pole dancing… and that’s just a small sampling. Devotees of each, both experts and amateurs, are happy to extoll the many virtues of their chosen fitness routine, citing why their routine is the absolute best and why.
Quite frankly, with so many voices offering so many strong points of view, it’s hard to know which direction to take on your journey to wellness.
It’s your unique journey.
I believe that the best form of fueling (aka eating) and training is more of a personal journey of discovery than a scientific absolute. Just as every athlete pictured below needs to eat and train in a way that is tailored to their sport, every human being is unique and needs to find the right way to eat and train to reach their own personal goals.
photos courtesy of howardschatz.com
How to get started
So if the journey is yours alone, where should you start? My suggestion is that you start by honestly evaluating your own current level of fitness. From there, consider what your personal fitness goals might be, then set yourself to finding out what path works best for you. Yes, there might be some trial and error, but that can be a valuable part of your own personal journey to health.
When it comes to attaining results and achieving your goals, I believe in the adage that “compliance is king”. The more FUN you have, the more likely you are to comply with whatever fitness or diet program you are following. Almost too simple, right? To help you determine if your program is working for you, here are three simple things to look for to make sure you’ll be able to stick with it long term and attain great results:
1. Consider scaleability. The term “scaleability” refers to a program that can adapt to be easier/simpler for true beginners or tougher/complex for experienced veterans. If you join a program with no scaleability, it may suit you as a beginner, but then you’ll soon outgrow it, and once you’re no longer challenged, you’ll likely lose interest. On the other hand, a more challenging program lacking scaleability will be forbidding from the start, and you’re unlikely to stick with it.
You have to learn to crawl before you can walk; you need to walk before you can run. Whether it’s nutrition, exercise, or both, look for a program that can break things down very simply to begin with but can adapt the longer you stay in it, much like what Martial Arts programs do with their colored belt structure.
2. Look for a learning-based environment. An atmosphere geared toward education will stimulate you mentally and physically, plus, you’ll gain lots of valuable experience. While it may be tempting to seek out programs that simply give you a checklist, these won’t deliver long term results. When you invest in learning about nutrition and fitness, you’ll be able to build a program that will really work for you.
Always look for experts, particularly those who can and will take the time to explain the how and why behind a given program. Personally, I’m more likely to eat healthy food if I know how it will benefit my body in terms of providing fuel for recovery and performance. Likewise, I am more likely to give a workout my all when I know more of the backstory behind the program, including the overall purpose, how it will benefit my body, and how it ties into my overall training program.
Seek out knowledgeable trainers who like to educate and share information, not the ones who protect their “trade secrets”.
3. Pursue who you want to be. It’s important to find your place in the world of wellness. It is extremely helpful to find like-minded individuals, but also be aspirational. Seek out people who are most like the fitter and healthier person you want to be.
Diet and fitness are part of a long term healthy lifestyle; not just a short term fix to remedy years of bad habits. Look for a group of people who embody the habits and practices you crave in your own life. We are the sum of who we spend time with, so seek out people who eat and work out how you want to! In time, these qualities will rub off on you.
The New You Challenge is constantly looking for great gym partners that meet these criteria. We partner with Group Fitness gyms which scale workouts, educate their clients and are already full of hard-working, fitness-conscious individuals. We also incorporate different meal plans with grocery lists, and partner with diet-to-go for those who need help with nutrition but are still learning the basics. Feel free to reach out to us if you have specific questions or if you need help finding a gym in your area!