One thing you’ll see throughout the fitness world (especially my blog) is people usually saying “Do this, don’t do that.” It becomes quite a problem, however, when you have hundreds of people telling you all different things which tend to end up being exactly the opposite of what the last person said. Most people in this profession are pretty opinionated and believe very strongly in their systems. On the bright side, I feel most are in it to help others.
Then there’s all sorts of other things to worry about:
How much protein should I eat
How many carbs are too many
Is this good fat or bad fat
How many times should I lift up that weight
Did that slice of pizza just ruin my goals
As I’ve said before, diet is a big part of your goals when it comes to reshaping your body. Now say you’ve been doing really well for a while now, eating healthy and looking and feeling better. But today is Friday and your friends and coworkers are going out for some drinks and pizza. Going out and enjoying yourself isn’t going to kill you. You’re not going to wake up Saturday having lost all your progress. The point I’m trying to make is the decision that Friday afternoon really shouldn’t be “Do I want to cheat on my diet tonight?” Instead, it should be “Do I feel like going out tonight and having fun?”
But if you want to have a drink or two and some pizza, then go ahead. It’s not the end of the world. If you want to go out and drink club soda and still have a good time, that’s fine too. Or maybe you just go home and go to bed. Whatever, just make the decision you want to not the one you feel like you have to. We really only get one life here and basing your decisions around restricting yourself is going to lead to frustration. That’s why I feel so many people fall off the wagon as it is when it comes to exercise and diet; it’s a subconscious rebelling against having to go do something or not being able to do something else.
Now of course, I don’t want someone to read this and say, “See, I can eat cheesesteaks for lunch all I want!” Obviously, some amount of self-control and self-motivation is needed or you’re just going to look the same as you’ve always looked. But I generally believe people are smart enough to understand my point which can be summed up as “Do your best.”
You know when you’ve been slacking diet wise or are just being a cry baby about getting in your workout. Ultimately, I just don’t want people to stress out over each tiny little detail of their diet and exercise plan. No, I don’t think carbs are that great and I think they should be limited, but sometimes I’ll have the foot long oven roasted chicken sub from Subway because it’s not that bad and I didn’t feel like making lunch that day.
Likewise when it comes to exercise, I flat out believe everyone should resistance train with free weights minus people with injuries or other health complications. I likewise believe that “traditional” cardio should be limited and I favor shorter, more intense cardio instead. But some people love running or using the elliptical or form X exercise. It helps them unwind, relax and go about their day without punching the next person that crosses their path. I’m not going to tell them “No, don’t do your cardio.” We’ll just incorporate that into the exercise plan.
Also, there are going to be legitimate days when you should not work out and your body is actually telling you this. Now, I know everyone is thinking “My body tells me that every god dam day I wake up!” but how long does that stay the case once you get changed and warmed up? You’re usually pretty ready to go, right? No, the one thing I will tell everyone is “Just get here; that’s the hardest part.” But say, you’ve warmed up and maybe you’ve started your routine for that day, whatever it might be, and you just are not feeling it?
Stop. Go home. Call it a day. Giving yourself that freedom and that permission is very powerful and listening to your body when it’s telling you something like that is very freeing and really helps you start tuning into what it’s saying. There have been days where I felt incredibly drained but after the warm up and starting the workout, I felt incredible and downright killed my workout, meeting and exceeding my goals for that day. There have also been other days where I started working out and just felt awful, so I simply stopped and went home. I wouldn’t have accomplished much and I allowed myself to rest and come back stronger the next day.
Now in the beginning, especially if you’re new to working out, I generally recommend people get into the habit of coming in a set amount of days and doing your workouts. After a few months, you’ll really start learning to understand what your body is trying to say. I find that picking up big, heavy weights tends to accelerate this process because, and I see this often with my clients, they don’t think they can get a certain weight up. But then they dig down a bit and really surprise themselves with what they are capable of doing.
So, do your best. You dam well know when you’re not doing your best so, no, that cheesecake can wait until cheat day. You also know when you’ve been humming along, giving your best effort so, yes, that pizza with friends is fine. If you slip up, who cares, it’s not the end of the world. Just keep striving to do your best inside and outside of the gym and everything else will fall into place.