Take a journey into the things which you are carrying, the known—
not into the unknown—into what you already know:
your pleasures, your delights, your despairs, your sorrows.
Take a journey into that, that is all you have.
— J. Krishnamurti

In the past I’ve always failed at fitness. I would be gung-ho for a few weeks, hitting the gym according to my neatly marked gym schedule and studiously avoiding anything with carbohydrates. I would food journal for a few weeks to remind myself of what I’m stuffing in my face and peruse the websites of favorite fitness clothing brands, promising myself that I would buy a new outfit after sticking to the plan for 3 months. And then I would  skip a few (weeks) of my workouts, backsliding to where I started.

The problem was that I wasn’t doing what worked for me. Instead I was following the highly espoused advice of every fitness guru out there: eat 5 meals a day, don’t eat this, eat lots of that, count calories, no carbs of any kind, ketogenic,  no potatoes, workout on this schedule, CARDIO!, drink tons of water, no sweeteners, do a cleanse, have cheat days….etc. You can’t make a square peg fit into a round hole, and I always found myself hating whatever I was doing. So I would quit. Solution? Do what works for me!

As a result of this epiphany I stopped doing cardio for any reason other than exercising my dog. What’s the point of running more than 3 miles if you own something with wheels? Besides, cardio doesn’t do a damn thing for my physique so the only benefit I got out of it was better lung/heart function (which admittedly is a good thing). Does cardio work for you? Cool! Enjoy your run while I do box jumps and power cleans. Weight lifting and Crossfit work best for me and give me the best results. And I love doing it so I’m more likely to stick with it! Do I have a set schedule? Nope. I go when I can with the goal of 3 workouts a week. Sometimes I don’t go at all because things come up, but then I actually miss my workouts and am fired up to go back.

Marine Style Physical Fitness Competition - Pu...

(Photo credit: United States Forces – Iraq (Inactive)

I hate counting calories. I do a lot of my own cooking, which means I can’t just scan a box and add it to my daily total. I had to input the whole recipe and then determine a serving size just so that I could log the damn calories. No. Instead I do paleo, where I can eat as many veggies as I want and a 6-8oz serving of protein. And I don’t do the super strict paleo either. I eat potatoes and sometimes I even *gasp* eat bread! Every Friday night I go out for a beer (o two) and burger with some friends. Is that my cheat day? Nope, it’s just the day I go out. Instead of being so strict on myself that I need a cheat day for release I just go with the 80% rule: eat right 80% of the time. I do use sweeteners (Stevia) and I do eat potatoes sometimes and I won’t turn down a vegan baked good. Luckily (sort of) my food allergies are pretty clear cut, no dairy and no eggs, which eliminates a lot of the foods I would otherwise indulge in. If I could still eat cheese I would have a problem.

I also recognize that I have very little self-control in certain situations. At least 90% of the time I will drink beer if it’s a microbrew and it’s available (both are usually the case in WA). I will eat dates if they’re in the house, although I can limit myself to a single serving. Ice cream (even non-dairy) is the devil: I’ll eat it and then feel like puking. I know that going in and I still eat it. I have no self-control with ice cream so I try not to keep it around! If I go home and get into relaxation mode I will not go to the gym, so I have to either go straight to the gym or go home, change, and leave immediately. No relaxing, no sweatpants, just moving.

It's the picture of Italian ice-cream in a sho...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do what you know will make you happy. Avoid the things that will weaken your motivation. Strategize ways to beat your own weaknesses.