The following post is written by a dear friend that I reached out for some inspiring insight on creating a healthy lifestyle change with exercise; I hope you enjoy it!
I am honored and humbled to be asked to contribute to this group, and thank you for inviting me. And I hope that my words can help guide you in some small way towards better physical well-being and health. To give you an idea of my background, I am a 50-something former college-level athlete who began my "athletic career" in youth soccer…..you probably can picture it; 20 or so 6-year-olds gaggling around in a dust cloud of random activity. A soccer ball squirts out of this cluster of kids and the cluster rumbles towards the ball and engulfs it. Rinse, lather, repeat.
As I grew older, I competed in several different sports and began a "fitness regimen" (or rather MANY regimens --- more on that soon) to help improve my athletic performance. And now, more than 45 years after my stellar soccer "career," I find myself viewing fitness regimens (I don't really like that term anymore; let's go with healthy lifestyles) quite differently. If I had to boil it down to a single concept, my view of healthy lifestyles would be "best possible Quality Of Life." The time we have here on Earth, in these human forms, is short, indeed. And I am to take care of this flesh and blood machine to the best of my ability so that I can enjoy every day I am blessed with and enjoy those days not only physically but spiritually and emotionally as well.
Let's go back to some of the follies of my youth…..when it came to my "fitness regimen," like many, I would fall for the "grass is always greener" or the "next best thing" trap. This is something that can rear its head in any aspect of our lives, and for me, it was firmly entrenched in my approach to my physical health. I would start a fitness program, one that promised the world…….flatter tummy, powerful legs, etc…..do it for a month or so. Then grow bored because I didn't see the results that were promised. And of course, I would then read about yet ANOTHER program that made similar promises but with a different methodology. And guess what?! I would do the same thing I did with the last program. Rinse, lather, repeat.
I acquired more fitness programs than I can count!! And in the grand scheme of things, I feel like I ended up on the plus side of things because doing something for your health is always better than nothing. But as the years have gone by, I have found that the acquisition of things, whether workout programs or material possessions, leads to clutter and a lack of clarity….at least for me. I would acquire fitness programs, supplements, specialized gear, etc., and find myself a bit adrift and unclear of how to take care of my physical self.
So through roughly 40+ years of trial and error, and have learned from a vast cornucopia of mistakes. You'd think that stubbing my toes for that long would have resulted in faster learning, but hey, I guess I could be considered stubborn. But in my (albeit slow) learning, I have found clarity and peace in minimalism and simplicity (of course, coupled with consistency).
When referencing "healthy lifestyles," I no longer feel drawn to the next "greatest program ever' or the "revolutionary supplement" that promises to make me look 20 years younger. I, instead, stick to my simple program. And when I say simple, what I mean is ……there is nothing extra in it. It contains the bare minimum of what I need and not a single thing more. And once I have that simple plan laid out, I make it a part of my life (and ignore the distractions that bombard us daily). So what is a simple plan, you may ask. In general terms, I like to think if you can fit it on a 3x5 card, you are probably in the right ballpark. And the simple plan, in my opinion, is easier to stick with and follow consistently.
A few words about consistency, especially since I included it in the title, are worth exploring. There have been periods in my life where I have "fallen out" of my self-care of fitness. These periods have lead to weight gain, poor sleep, lack of mental focus, etc. And once I fall out of this self-care practice, I can remain in these doldrums for months and months at a time. When I finally snap out of this behavior and try to regain that self-care for my health, I have to ignore the "lose 30 pounds in 30 days" advertisements, and this pill will allow you to lose weight without changing your habits. The fitness industry thrives on these sales pitches. And if those things really worked, the fitness industry might put itself out of business.
The reason I remind myself to ignore these tempting sales pitches is this………I was consistent in my weight gain/lack of a healthy lifestyle. It took me months or years to gain the weight. Why would I expect to be able to lose it in 1/10th the time. Consistency (in poor habits) got me into the mess, and consistency (in a simple self-care plan) will get me out of it.
So that is a bit of rambling. Let me give an example of a simple plan, one that easily fits on a 3x5 card. This is only an example, and there is no "one size fits all" approach to a healthy lifestyle. It may even look TOO simple to be effective. But it is the simplicity that makes it effective! So here it is….a simple example:
Strength training 3x/week (30 minutes).
Daily brisk walk (30 – 60 minutes)
High-Intensity training 2x/week: (10 - 15 minutes).
Fast 16 hours 2x/week.
Sleep 8 hours each night
Restrict/Eliminate sugary beverages, hyperpalatable foods (chips, pizza, etc.), alcohol.
Pretty simple, right? If someone were to follow this simple plan, week in and week out, I have no doubt they would find themselves stronger, fitter, and leading a healthier lifestyle.
I wish you all much love and success as you set out on, or continue, your journey to a healthy lifestyle.