Fitness path ahead

keeping true

Fitness path ahead

Since we have just stepped into the new year, a question that you need to ask yourself is where do you want to take your fitness programme to in the year ahead? Possibly, the more relevant consideration should be, ‘What can I do to ensure that I stay on track with my fitness routine in the coming year?’ We constantly focus (often obsess) on what our fitness programmes will do for us and more often than not, find ourselves feeling frustrated and defeated when the results come up short. Why? Perhaps, our approach needs to change.

Perspective matters

We are always looking for (most times, literally demanding) constant support and encouragement from others, be it our fitness instructors, friends and family, to keep us focused and on track with our workouts. But think about it: do you really need such reinforcements from external factors?

After all, we don’t seem to need the same when it comes to eating and drinking not-so-sensibly, or following lifestyles that necessitate making drastic changes for us to be healthier. How is it that we are unable to find within ourselves the focus and commitment to our own body and health?

Of course, any external support and encouragement extended is always welcome along the way. But the key here is to not depend entirely on it, because it then allows us to blame someone other than ourselves for our failure to stay on the course. That’s an easy way out. We don’t realise how we are already setting ourselves up for disappointment right from the start. 

Get past the clichés

The ideal workout, the perfect diet, the fail-proof plan — such stereotypes and more are increasingly becoming common. However, be sceptical of such generalisations, where it is presumed that an unlimited number of individuals would respond and progress to show more or less the same results. We are constantly chasing ideals and standards set by others; without stopping to consider the applicability or even relevance of these to oneself.

Fashionable fetishes

Does this trend, where health and fitness are being (over-)promoted to the point of
getting obsessive over everything we eat and which workout we do, really inspire better living? Especially since the above is measured against what others are doing or not doing. It doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s actually healthy or right for oneself. If we’re not following the latest trend going viral on social media, we are convinced that we are falling short, thereby starting a cycle of judgement, self-loathing, and depression.

Celebrate yourself  
What is it that makes you look forward to your next workout, or next meal, or has you going through your day feeling energised and happy? With your current diet and fitness lifestyle, if you are not experiencing that feeling of happiness, then you need to take a closer look at what you are doing. After all, this should be about you and not about chasing what worked for someone else. Being amazing in terms of healthy, fit and strong comes in different sizes — one size definitely does not fit all.
We overwhelm ourselves chasing plans and workouts to become what we are not but are made to believe we should be, which makes us chase numbers — on the weighing scale, with calories, with kilos, miles and more. Instead maybe, you need to stop and consider what your goals and needs actually are and how best you can realistically achieve the same. Is that body-type that you have been trying to achieve really making you happy, or are you just constantly stressing to first achieve it and then trying to maintain it?

Don’t over-simplify

A fitness and eating plan is not only about being thin or skinny or having over-sized muscles or eating strictly-controlled diets. I often find people simplifying it to a matter of calories-consumed versus calories-burned; this then further translates into either tedious hours of cardio, or very stringent eating, or even both. Such plans go towards creating more stress, physically and mentally, rather than leading to a healthier, fitter you.

Another common approach involves incorporating a daily (or regular) walk along with regulated (sometimes strict) eating habits. Moderation is something you should always practise. Because going to either extreme is going to prove detrimental in the long term.

You need to focus on more than just calorie burning and calorie control. Such things may help control what you see on the weighing scale, but it’s not getting you stronger to lead a healthier, active life for years to come. Going beyond just achieving a number in terms of your body is important; you also want to be strong to do all the activities that you enjoy for the longest time possible. For that, you need a more comprehensive, functional
programme. And along the way, every quarter or so, a self-review of how your current programme is going in terms of results, not only for the body, but for the mind, is important.

Feel good

Is it that unthinkable to not follow the latest trends in workouts or diets? Is it not possible to think of incorporating eating habits and workouts that you will enjoy and that will allow you to stay the course not only because of the results that you can see, but also for the added incentive of feeling great? We live in a technology-and information-heavy environment that we are constantly trying to keep up with. In contrast, look at the generations before — they enjoyed home-cooked meals, led highly active lives within the house and outside, and seemed to have a far more positive and healthier mind-body image than we see today.

Is there a lesson to be learnt there, maybe? 2016 — the year you look after yourself, and be yourself (not what someone else expects you to be).

(The author is fitness and pilates educator & co-owner of The Zone, Mind & Body Studio, Bengaluru)

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