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