This is my personal list of philosophies to live by when doing the whole "fitness thing". I suggest everyone think of at least five guidelines for their personal "pirate code of fitness". It is so easy to get caught up in all the misinformation, the hype, your personal goals, team goals, etc. and the jumble this whole quest creates in trying to live your life on top of it.
1. Break the rules
Question all the standard "get healthy" rules you see on the news, in the media, hear from a friend-of-a-friend or from "tight-shirt-ripped-guy at the gym". Question everything. Even beautifully published research articles. The best research can have various forms of bias, specific selection criteria that might not apply to you, a million variables you have not considered, not to mention just because something worked for someone else, does not mean it will work for you. Be a critical thinker. Become your own research subject. Try something as a "6-week challenge", record results! Track progress! Did it work? Why/why not? Make sure you find something sustainable. If it's not a lifestyle you can maintain forever, you're setting yourself up for failure. Self-experiment! Not losing weight with 6 meals/day? Try Intermittent Fasting. 5:2 Fasting program interferes with your training? Try Leangains. Think women are supposed to lift light? Lift HEAVY!! The only way to find out is to try.
2. The Quest for health should ENRICH your life not CONSUME it
I am very guilty of this one. Ironically, this whole health thing can become very addictive and emotionally unhealthy extremely quickly. At first you're that person who is improving their lifestyle, making healthy choices and feeling more energetic. Fast forward six months and you're leaning over a food scale, rationing out PB2 like it's cocaine. You refuse to go out with friends because you're afraid the macros are not listed correctly at the restaurant, you are bringing a Tupperware container with your own meal to a family dinner and you yell at your husband from taking a bite out of your "perfectly measured meal"... "THE DAY IS RUINED!!!". It is A LOT easier to get to this place than you think. Once you start REALLY paying attention to what you eat, it is VERY COMMON to develop a degree of food anxiety. I will publish more articles on how to overcome this, but the easiest thing to do is avoid it in the first place. It is a VERY slippery slope.
3. If you can't beat it, cheat it.
There are reasons why we fall into old habits - most of the time it's because they are simply more fun. With food it tends to be certain flavours/types we enjoy. Learn to love smart substitutions. Find good quality ones! Make your own! Find something you love even more than the original! Cheat the system and just find healthier things you like MORE. Ones that you would have even if you could have anything you wanted. And every once in a while indulge in what you used to enjoy! A snickers bar won't kill you. Have one and move on... instead of refusing it over and over again, reminiscing about its glory... and then eating the whole box of them and half the grocery store.
4. Love your food!
I love food. I want to talk about it, learn about the ingredients, their properties, preparations, how people around the world prepare it, etc. Most people are not overweight because they "love food", ironically it's because they don't love it enough! They follow the same habits, have the same donuts and their daily food selection is repetitive. It is just a more calorie dense repetitive. Learn about food! Learn to make it! There is a whole delicious universe of flavour waiting for you outside your pre-packaged crackers! People like to ask me "what is your cheat meal when you can 'eat whatever you want'". I already eat what I want! I tailor my cooking to my favourite meal.
5. Love your training
Don't grudgingly try to drag your butt to the gym when you get a sudden motivation to 'get in shape'. The honeymoon period when you feel good about yourself will wear off, you'll feel like you "did enough" and your
motivation will dwindle. Find an activity you LOVE. Find something that you want to do for the sake of doing it! There are so many sports and events you can participate in! Don't train as a part of "my new resolution", train because when you're upset or tired the thought of doing that activity lifts your spirits.
6. Find a crew!
Find a buddy, find a team, find a trainer, find anyone! Meet new people! Use your training to find motivated like-minded people to keep yourself accountable. Use this quest to meet new people and expand your social circle instead of isolating yourself in it.