I’ll tread lightly on this topic. I am not a nutritionist or a personal trainer.
But it doesn’t take a nutritionist or personal trainer to understand that eating well and exercise are important. As with other areas of our lives, we over-complicate our approach to basic health.
Complexity Breeds Frustration
Weight Watchers works for a lot of folks (especially if the meeting component is involved), but over time, counting points can become as tedious as counting calories. Other food plans can work, but the key is keeping the plans simple and easy to execute.
Further, complex and time-consuming exercise plans aren’t viable for most of us who have work, family, and other obligations.
In my world, I will get my notebook out, write out all my weightlifting exercises, head to the YMCA at 5:00am and give it my all for one hour. Then I head home by 6:15 or so and rush to the shower and get the kids ready for school and so on.
It works for a bit, but it’s not easily sustainable. It’s sustainable, but when life happens then it’s easy to get off track.
So… What Does Work?
Simplifying our approach to health is similar to simplifying other areas. The more we clear our paths and make things easier, the more likely we’ll keep a new habit.
In other words, having running shoes out and exercise clothes ready removes the hurdle of reaching around in the dark to get dressed. A goal to walk for 10 minutes removes the time barrier and at least gets the blood pumping. And you might get going and tack on another 10-15 minutes.
Here are some other suggestions…
- Pick something you enjoy
- Have a workout buddy: My wife has been so consistent due to a friendship forged in workout classes
- Make it ‘location agnostic’: A walk can be taken anywhere, as can a jog. Body weight exercises can go anywhere. My wife has some dumbbells and a yoga mat and sometimes meets her friend at a school parking lot or at her house to do a mini-boot camp in the driveway. Remove the barrier of needing a gym or some other dedicated space.
- Create Small Hurdles: Unless you are in focused training, forget ‘go big or go home.’ Consider ‘just get out of the home for 10 minutes’ as your initial standard.
- Do Just a Little More: Some time during that 10 minutes, push yourself just a bit out of the comfort zone. Jog for 30 seconds during your 10 minute walk. then 1 minute. Just stretch yourself a bit and then a bit more.
With food, again, make it easier to eat well. How to make this easy will vary, but it’s key. If you have healthy food where it needs to be, then it’s easier to eat healthy.
Select one or two eating principles and follow them, for example:
- Don’t eat after 8:00pm
- Eat veggies or fruit only until 11am
- Have a salad every day for lunch
- Bake a bunch of boneless, skinless chicken tenders on Sunday and have them on hand the rest of the week.
Not All or Nothing. Just Consistently Do Something
The long and short of it is this: Lower the bar. Don’t go all or nothing with your exercise or nutrition if you’ve not been consistent.
While you might want to see massive change, a Simple Health plan requires early and frequent wins in your program. Lower the bar and slowly raise it. And, finally, be merciful on yourself if you fall of the wagon.
I look forward to experimenting in this area and sharing how things go.
- What kind of exercise program works for you?
- What kind of nutrition program works for you?
- Where do your greatest frustrations come from in this area?