I’m just going to jump straight into it – you are what you do habitually. Read that again, you are what you do habitually. Think about it this way, if you smoke 10 cigarettes per day, every day, then you’re a smoker.
What we do on a daily basis defines us in more ways than one, not only do we quite literally become our decisions, our daily decisions decide how we look, our skin, our body and so much more.
Recently, I met an individual who was very overweight and pretty depressed about it. She hated her lack of willpower when she had to decide between fast food or a healthy salad for lunch, she hated that at the end of the day she watched TV rather than going to the gym. So I told her to take a look at the identity she has created for herself as someone who she calls ‘fat’ ‘lazy’ ‘greedy’, and then to take a look at her decisions. You are what you do habitually.
When it comes to health and fitness, consistency is key. How healthy you are almost completely depends on what you do over time, rather than just one day. If you go to the gym once a month, I hate to break it to you but you’re not going to get bulging biceps and washboard abs. Unless you’re at the hand of some wildcard genetics.
Let’s look at the average diet you’ll see marketed to you on TV and on social media, it will tell you in one way or another to seriously reduce your caloric intake. This may be by cutting out all carbohydrates, or perhaps fat, or perhaps just having baby sized portions. I can almost guarantee you that this will fail. Why? Because it’s not sustainable, and sustainability is directly correlated to consistency.
Extreme diets and workout plans are not sustainable across the long term, you just can’t live that way – your body is programmed to consume food and requires sufficient nourishment. If you don’t receive that nourishment you’ll start craving high calorie food, you’ll start obsessing over your hunger, your energy levels will decrease, your metabolism will down-regulate and ultimately you’ll either binge or totally quit.
Similarly, if you try and follow a grueling workout plan that has you in the gym for 2 hours a day, you’re not going to stick to it. Why? Because it’s not sustainable. We have lives to live, jobs to go to, children to feed – in order to be consistent it needs to be sustainable.
Consistency is key. The best diet and workout plan is the one that works for you. A study1 published in the Nutrition Journal found that as long as you stick to it, any diet that reduces caloric intake will work. Another study2 found that irregular physical activity can actually contribute to weight gain because it makes it hard for your body to self regulate your metabolism due to the ups and downs in energy expenditure.
So how should you approach this? Find a sport you genuinely enjoy – try out tennis, beach volleyball, ice hockey – whatever it is just get your body regularly moving and try to find some enjoyment out of it. Don’t set insane unachievable targets, be realistic. If you can only fit in 2 hours a week then perfect, start with that. Find a way of eating that is not totally restrictive, give yourself days off. Make it a lifestyle shift towards healthier eating, nourishing your body and caring about yourself. Consistent positive behavior causes permanent positive change.