Yesterday I met with a new client who was bemoaning the fact that she had put some weight on. This wasn’t the first time she had been close to being overweight. In fact, as we continued to talk, it became apparent that there was a pattern occurring.
5 years ago, this lady was grossly overweight. After a health scare, she changed her ways. She started eating healthily, joined the gym and hit her target weight in less than a year. She maintained this weight for about 6 months. Then gradually, she reduced her hours of exercise in a week (sometimes to the point of nonexistence) and slowly but surely, those extra special treat days became more regular.
When her weight crept up to the point that her clothes didn’t fit and she didn’t like what she saw in the mirror, she hit her pain threshold and would return to the gym and readdress the contents of her fridge. But as soon as she reached her goal weight, she returned to her bad habits again.
I was fascinated by this yoyo effect that I see so many people trapped in, and it got me thinking.
What is it about exercise and healthy eating that we consider to be finite?
When I look in the fitness section of a book store, the vast majority of books promote a timeframe to success.
“Lose 10kg in 5 weeks”
“Eat 50 calories a day and get thin in a week”
“Be a goddess in 12 weeks or less or get your money back which you’ll never do because you have to follow this exhausting, impossible, punishing exercise regime to the letter in order to claim”
OK so I made those up, but some titles aren’t far off and almost all books have time schedules attached to them. Diets and programs are rife and promoted as a way to achieve a goal.
A diet is something you follow for a period of time.
An exercise program has an end.
A goal is something to acquire. But the maintenance of your body is a continuing journey.
This is how I explained it to my client:
Imagine your job. Whether you love or loath your job (please get in touch if you’re in the latter category) it pays your bills. You don’t stop going to work once you’ve earned enough money to pay your rent for the month. It’s an ongoing thing. So why should maintaining your health and fitness be any different? If you keep going back to work so you can maintain your lifestyle from one month to the next, it makes sense to approach health and fitness in the same way so you can maintain your healthy figure. Fitness is something to be maintained daily. Ignore every fad diet, short-cut program and magic pill. Fitness is a lifetime commitment and you need to find sustainable ways to prioritise exercise. Join a gym, take classes and keep it fun and full of variety to keep yourself interested. Educate yourself about nutrition so you can make knowledgeable decisions about what you eat. And remember, when it comes to health and fitness, there is no finishing line and no quick-fix.
My client has readdressed her approach to fitness. I trust this blog has got you thinking about whether your approach is getting you the sustainable results you want.