Updated: Feb 21, 2019
What are the key ingredients required to achieve a fit and healthy lifestyle?
Wherever you look (in print, online, in the advice of experts and colleagues) there seems to be a huge variety of evidence, opinions and comment on what makes a workout programme a success.
And I’m not immune to this kind of informed speculation either (as anyone who has taken the time to read my blog posts will notice), happily giving my own advice on everything from what to eat, how to exercise and the best mental attitudes to adopt to make progress in the gym.
It can all be a little confusing, at times contradictory, and particularly baffling where dietary advice is concerned.
What I do think should be kept in focus however, regardless of the information and advice that is out there, is the importance of balancing strategy and individual decision-making where health and fitness is concerned. The two, to my mind, actually go hand in hand and support each other in the development a long-term path to fitness.
So, what do I mean by both terms, and how do they relate to each other in a meaningful and useful way?
By strategy I refer to first getting a clear sense of our own physical and mental health, as well as a realistic idea of what we can achieve in the future.
Once this feasible long-term (and achievable) goal has been established (whether it be to lose weight, put on so much muscle or increase endurance) then a plan can be structured to reach that end point within a measurable timeframe.
This plan can include what and when to eat, how to train, what parts of the body to exercise, when to rest and how to gauge progress. Which in turn can then be measured, tweaked and adapted as circumstances apply during the period of the chosen fitness plan.
And when developing such a structured fitness plan I advise getting the best advice from a Personal Trainer, who can also answer any questions that may arise during its implementation!
But what about individual decision-making? What part does this play in a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Regardless of how intelligently structured such a fitness plan is there will always remain (right at the heart of the adopted strategy) the need for active engagement on the part of the person exercising. This is because fitness programmes are not like computer programmes, and once started they do not run automatically like an algorithm in the background of our lives.
Instead fitness plans require the person exercising to make conscious and important decisions on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis in the best interest of his or her physical and mental health.
What to eat, when to eat, when to push the body, when to rest and the mental attitude to adopt to succeed; all of these are decisions that only the person reaching for health and fitness can take, regardless of any other advice they may also take from third parties.
This positive and engaged mental attitude is what takes those following a workout programme to its successful outcome. It is not the programme itself which delivers that success, but the mental attitude that underpins it which brings the results that can be seen and felt by the person training.
Get that right and success will follow.
Take a passive, following role and that success will be harder to achieve (if it is achievable at all).
Or, to put it another way, make it happen in your head and you will see the results in the real world.