“Eat Right, Sleep Right, Think Right, Exercise” – part four.
“Hi, my name is David. I am a homosexual…and…I hate the gym.” I realize that because I am gay, I am supposed to love the gym. To do otherwise is against the law, or something like that, but I do. I do hate the gym. I have spent many years trying to like the gym and being dissatisfied with the fitness results I was getting from my workouts there. Then, for a few years it got really bad, and I would end up going once a week, sluggishly plow my way through 30 minutes on the elliptical and then reward myself with a 10 minute workout with the 5 pound weights.
I’ve realized this year that aside from my less-than-ambitious workout, my real problem was I wasn’t thinking about the process of fitness in a way that would make sense to me. I was only focused on what I wanted for the result and then just following the crowd and doing what I thought I was supposed to do.
Fitness is no different than anything else you do in life that is important. You have to look at not only the goals, but the process as well, and choose a plan that works for you: a plan that you can make time for, a plan that makes sense to you, a plan that feels good, and most importantly, a plan you are willing to stick to.
I recently had a client tell me that it was easy for him to become confused about these kinds of things because it seems like every issue of “Men’s Health” has conflicting messages about what to do to meet fitness goals, sometimes even in the same issue. True. If you look around, you will see plenty of messages telling you that “this is the thing you must do” to meet your fitness goals. However, most of that is marketing, not information, and we have to learn two not confuse the two. Additionally, even real fitness information can vary from professional to professional, and that is simply because fitness is personal. One size does not fit all and each person must explore all the options out there to craft a plan that fits him or her.
It took me a long time to finally find a fitness plan I can connect to. I tried to do the gym thing for so many years, but it never really worked for me. I thought it was because I don’t have the discipline to push myself (true), so I hired a trainer. I went through a lot of trainers. Some were better than others. Most of them unfortunately had a “one size fits all” approach which did not suit my needs. Those that had a better understanding of the interaction between bodies and exercise, I could not afford for the long haul. I came to realize that I am most connected to fitness in the way I was introduced to it in the first place: outside, with other people, doing basic pushups and sit ups and running drills. That is how we worked out in the Navy. Every morning at dawn on the “grinder” doing calisthenics. No weights or big machines, no fancy gadgets. Watching the world wake up. That’s how I discovered fitness boot camp and I love it.
That particular fitness plan is not right for everyone and my point here is that every person must find something that fits with him or her, even if it is only walking for a certain amount of time each day. I also know that what works for me now, may not always work for me in the future and I may have to be prepared at some point to modify my current plan. That is why thinking about the process of fitness is just as important as thinking about the desired outcomes.
Back in the early 90’s, when infomercials were starting to become really big, there was an outlandish fitness guru named Susan Powter, who I will always remember her tag line, “Every day you gotta move, you gotta breathe, and you gotta eat.” She was absolutely right about that. It is important to pay attention each day to how you move, breathe, and eat, because it has a great impact on what you do next. Additionally, you have to plan to move in a way that suits you, and you can commit to.
So, there they are over the last four entries: Eat Right, Sleep Right, Think Right, Exercise. ESTE (pronounced es-tee). I encourage my clients to pick 3-5 simple things that they can do each day to support these goals. Even if you did absolutely nothing else to change your life but follow these guidelines, you will still find yourself in a better place than when you started.