I’m going to assume we all want to live a long, healthy and happy life. The question is how do we approach it. Do we exercise more? Do we eat better? And what does better actually mean?
Those are the questions I’d imagine a lot of people ask themselves.
And finding the answer can certainly be overwhelming. Exercise alone is not the answer. Diet is alone is not the answer.
The real answer is both.
You can train as much as you want in your life and go to the gym each day of the year. If you eat terrible junk food you won’t be healthy for long. You might look shredded but the inside of your body looks like a junkyard! That’s where the name junk food came from, I believe! Haha
On the other hand, you may have the best diet in the world but sit behind a desk all day and end up with mobility or heart issues because you are not moving enough.
So doing one part to justify not doing the other will give you the same end result of not feeling as balanced and well as you could.
Like most things in life, long-term success takes long-term effort and isn’t associated with anything extreme. Going to the gym and doing hardcore workouts for an hour or two, three times a week is usually unsustainable for most lifestyles at best and results in injury, at worst.
And by that same token, your “diet” must also be sustainable and fit your lifestyle. Anything too extreme often yields a yo-yo effect that could last years.
So in a gluten-free, vegan, organic, non-GMO nutshell (kidding) the answer is in identifying your goals and then finding balance on your path to achieve them. Take time to seriously consider what your goals are. Maybe it is a certain weight or size you want to be or maybe it means you want to get up those stairs without losing your breath. Maybe you want to fix the nagging aches and pains. Or maybe you want to achieve new athletic goals. All of those things are achievable through a strategic, balance blend of diet and exercise.
Beginning with exercise. Going to the gym and repeating the same 10 machines over and over or going for a jog a few times a week, won’t cut it. More than just doing cardio and weightlifting, living a healthy, well life stems from being mobile, functionally strong and agile for life. This doesn’t mean you are lifting a literal ton of weight but it is also more than an occasional yoga session.
A good start for a training session could look something like this:
Warm-Up / Mobility work
New Movements and Play
I know, mobility is in there twice…and for a good reason. Because most of us hate it and it's “boring” and but that is why we can not do it enough. Do the mobility work, your body will thank you! As a side note I recommend finding some mobility exercises which make you think, are challenging and dynamic. Static stretching is not necessarily the mobility you are looking for. You will get flexible but that is not necessarily functional mobility!
Then we have the diet part. I know there are a lot of different diets out there. Keto, Mediterranean, High Protein - Low Carb, Paleo, just to name a few. So which one to pick?
I always recommend to really study the diet you want to approach and see if that would be something for you every, single, day. Because there are some hardcore diets out there which you do for 21 days, 30 days or even 60 days and you may even loose a lot of weight. But it will come creeping back to you. And besides the weight, you are putting your body through a very stressful time when you drastically change your diet. It is fascinating how people are more careful with the oil they put in their car and the care they take of the engine to ensure they get the most miles out of their vehicle and limit the breakdowns but are more careless with their own health.
Find a diet you know you can master for at least a year and know you are comfortable with the lifestyle. If you find yourself complaining or longing for something different, you may have not selected the best plan for yourself. Your food choices should not be a burden or a source of stress. Stress can block a lot of good operations in our body which influence your success in being a healthy human being. But stress is an entirely different topic for a different day.
Finding a good balance with exercise you enjoy and a well-rounded diet you can maintain for the long-term will change your life. Two books I recommend about healthy eating and movement / mobility and functional training are:
Food. What the heck should I eat? - Mark Hyman, MD and Becoming a Supple Leopard - Dr. Kelly Starrett