I have been a Personal Trainer for over 23 years trying to motivate people who hate eating healthy and hate exercising to go against every fiber in their being and do the opposite.
I’ll admit, it’s not an easy job. But, I truly believe there are few things more important than eating healthy and exercising. It not only helps you live longer, but allows you to live a life full of energy, vitality and maximizes all that life has to offer.
One of the things that has made me successful as a trainer – is the fact that deep down inside I’m really a fat kid (at age 12, I was 5 foot 4 inches, weighed 180 pounds and wore pants 3 sizes larger than the ones I wear now). I never really enjoyed eating healthy and I only fell in love with exercise when I learned exercise could be fun and not torture.
Exercise and nutrition doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation.
First, let’s discuss exercise…..
Many people feel as though it’s pointless to exercise if ….
All of those above are actually reasons why you SHOULD exercise! First of all – exercise is especially important for those who aren’t eating right and who are stressed. Exercise will burn off excess calories while reducing stress. Furthermore, waiting until you have an unlimited amount of free time to become fully “committed” to an exercise program is never going to happen. Even making it to the gym once per week is still better than sitting on the couch.
Just like making a poor food choice shouldn’t ruin your diet for the day – you get right back on track for your next meal. Training is the same thing, if you miss a workout – don’t let it affect your week, make it up another day. Just keep battling. Its fine if you miss, life happens. If you can accept that and not get discouraged – you will have much more success in the long run…. leaving you much healthier than those who choose to do nothing.
Let’s discuss nutrition…..
I grew up in the late 70’s – early 80’s, when eating a bag of Ruffles for breakfast wasn’t frowned upon. The healthiest way my Grandmother would make eggs, was when she would fry them in the grease leftover from the bacon she just cooked.
So, I can sympathize with my clients who say they find it hard to eat healthy – because I still struggle to this day.
When I competed as a Bodybuilder, I would have to stay on such strict diets for 4-6 months. After my show I was so tired of eating healthy – I would go completely the opposite way. Like a true food addict, I always had a hard time stopping. 2 weeks would turn into 4. 1 month to 2. Next thing you know, I have all the weight I lost back on.
The funny thing was, when I was dieting for a competition I was aware of how much better I felt; more energy, better attitude, and much stronger. I would even say to myself – “now, Paul, this time when the show is done – we are not putting the weight back on!”. Unfortunately, it usually took less than 24 hours after the show for me to finish my first dozen of crispy crèmes before I remembered my pledge.
Now that I don’t compete anymore and I don’t need to be so “strict” – it is actually a bit easier to eat healthy knowing I can have that Oreo if I so desire. When you are not “allowed” to eat certain foods it seems you crave them even more.
Being extreme in one direction can lead to being extreme in the other.
I eat healthy now because I want to, not because I have to. I am in tune with how food makes me feel. How it affects my work, my workouts, and my moods. I eat healthy because I want to be healthy. I want to be around as many years as possible to enjoy time with my wife and 2 kids. At 44 years old, I want to look my best as I approach my 50’s. These are my motivators now, and they can be different for each person.
My empathy for my client’s struggles with food, I believe, helps me be a better trainer. The addiction to “unhealthy” foods and the natural deterrence to “healthy” ones is something I am very familiar with.
When eating clean for an extended period of time, I seem to have no desire for fried foods or sweets. Almost like a detox, my brain shuts off those desires. The problem is, like most addicts, when I do let myself have a “cheat” sometimes I spiral out of control and those triggers are activated making me crave bad food more and more.
So the question is – how do we deal with that?
That’s just it – you “deal with it”. You fall off, you get right back on. You don’t just lay there stuffing your face. You’re human, you slipped up, it’s ok. It doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”, live in moderation. The key is to not over-indulge.
The following tips can help you be your best and win those battles you have with yourself…..
Ideally, the more you stay with a certain ratio of protein/carbs/fat, the better you will feel. But, if you have days where you can’t or if you cheat – try to stick within your daily caloric intake and you can minimize the damage.
I suggest focusing on a “seven day” average and don’t go over that. So, If your average daily caloric intake should be 2,500…. and you have a 3,500 calorie day – don’t beat yourself up, you can make up the difference on two other days eating only 2,000.
Life is a marathon, not a sprint. You will slip up. You will not eat perfect every day and that’s ok. Keep the big picture in mind – a healthier you.
A healthier you is a constant work-in-progress. It is not something you do for 3 months and abracadabra you’re done. You keep at it.
Unfortunately, the human body is stubborn. It is either losing weight or gaining it, so you have to be on your game and pay attention to not only how you feed it, but how you train it.
by Paul Dexter