Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Just Get It Done......

Through the years I have tried various strategies that can help influence people to improve their nutrition intake and commit to an exercise program several times a week.  I realize that not everyone has the same motivation or level of commitment.  I also realize that what works for Person A, might not work for Person B.   People have different personalities and lifestyles, those are 2 factors that should be taken into consideration before starting a diet or exercise program.

It is really important to examine what type of person you are before jumping into any structured eating/fitness plan.  Are you generally an obsessive-compulsive Type A personality or are you laid back-relaxed type B personality?  Some people can follow any type of nutrition / exercise approach and be successful and be fully committed to the plan.  Other people are very structured with their business/personal life, however getting in better physical condition takes a back seat.

There are 2 very different, but fairly simple, strategies that can be applied to a person who is striving to get in better physical condition whether they want to be 100% committed or have a little leeway.  Each of these approaches have worked with my clients. myself, and other around me- but you have to find the one that is right for you.

The "All or Nothing" approach.  Basically, this approach has no freedom.  It is mainly for a Type A personality.   The calories, protein, carbs, and fat are all  counted at each meal and daily totals are documented.  There are no "unplanned" cheat meals or refeeds.  For example a "cheat meal" would be planned for dinner Sunday night and everything else would be on point thought the week, no exceptions.  As far as strength training/intervals/or cardio- everything is planned for the specific day, week, and month.

For example, on Monday if you program an Upper Body Lifting day- you do the prescribed exercises, sets, and reps.  You don't change up exercise unless that is part of the program. On Tuesday if you plan to do intervals on the treadmill, 30 sec on and 60 seconds off for a total of 20 minutes, that's what you do.  You don't go run 100 yard sprints (which would also be effective), you stick to the plan because that's the type of person you are, and this approach is what works best for you.

There is also the "Freedom" approach.  Usually a Type B person will appreciate this strategy.  As long as your meals are balanced with some lean protein, a vegetable, and a fruit or another "clean" carb source you are fine.  You have a general idea how many calories and other macro nutrients you should be taking in but you don't bother to input your food into a program like FITDAY.COM or LIVESTRONG.COM.

You also have some free meals, not BINGE days, but a little wiggle room.  The idea I like the best was popularized by Dr. John Berardi.  It's the  90% rule and it makes a lot of sense when applied to better nutritional habits.  Basically, 90% of the time you eat clean, nutritious foods and consume a low/moderate amount of calories. You also have 10% of your meals where you have some freedom.  So, if you eat 4 times a day, 7 days a week you have 28 total meals.  That gives you about 3 meals per week where you have some freedom.

That DOES NOT mean you should go to an all you can eat buffet 3 times throughout the week or have a weekend of booze and Ben &Jerry's! .  On the other hand, if you feel like a adding a bagel with your breakfast that would be acceptable. If you feel like 1 piece of cake for desert for that sweet tooth, go for it, and if you craving a slice of pizza - have 1 slice!  The other 25 meals throughout the week are perfect, no excuses. You basically make choices on social events or any craving you have throughout the week.

As far as exercise goes, you have a good idea what you are going to do in the gym or go exercise at the park.  You make it a point to exercise with weights as well as do some cardio or interval work, but nothing is etched in stone.  Alwyn Cosgrove has a concept where you look at the month, and decide how many workouts you will complete during that time frame.  If it is a 30 day month, maybe you plan 18 workouts, with at least 12 of those consisting of resistance training.  The only time you'll be Type A, is documenting your workouts on a calender, actually just making an "X" would be sufficient.  That seems pretty easy, doesn't it???

Now which approach will work best? It's obvious that most people would think the "All or Nothing" approach is by far the best choice.  But what if that doesn't fit you personality or level of dedication?  You  give up after 2 weeks and just go back to being inactive and eating whatever you choose, not really effective.  What happens if you stick to the "Freedom" approach and last 2 months and realize that this is a lifestyle you can live with? 

Some people need a little flexibility, and through the years I've learned that.  Not everybody is going to live and breath exercise and proper nutrition, but making healthy changes will be a great way to start living a better lifestyle.  The point is- Just get it done!  Exercise and start eating better, regardless of which approach you decide to take, just do more than you are doing now. 

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