Stop Punishing Yourself with Diets and Exercise
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You ate too much over the holiday season, now it’s time to burn it off!
You’ve seen these headlines splashed on the cover of magazines and websites, and the undertone is the same. It’s time to punish yourself for overindulging during the holiday season. All of those tasty treats and mouth watering meals you devoured? Time to burn off those calories! Remember the workouts you missed? Time to work harder and longer to make up for it.
We live in a world that encourages us to diet endlessly. The more we sacrifice and deprive ourselves, the more disciplined and better off we are … or so we’re told. We say things like, “I’ve only eaten 985 calories today!” and wear exhaustion and deprivation like badges of honor.
Exhaustion and deprivation are not badges of honor from your health and fitness efforts. They’re signs that what you’re doing isn’t sustainable long-term.
Many experts (or those who claim to be) in health and fitness provide us with grueling, vomit inducing workouts so we feel like we’re hardcore and superior to mere mortals who don’t leave glorious sweat angels on the gym floor after every workout. We’re encouraged to go harder, go longer, and not stop until we’re a quivering mess that can barely walk out of the gym.
Oftentimes these intense workouts are fueled by negative self talk, particularly if we eat something “bad” the day prior. “I have to work this off,” we mumbled after polishing off a bowl of ice cream or a favorite meal.
“It’s time to get serious!” we chant because this time is going to be different. This year you’re going to achieve your goals. You’re going to diet harder. You’re going to attempt the most gruesome workouts. Fatigue and hunger be damned because you’re on a mission and won’t accept anything but arrant success!
But it’s time to stop punishing ourselves with unsustainable diets and grueling workout routines.
This mentality — diet harder and work out longer if you ate something “bad” — is not serving you well. Punishing ourselves with exercise because of what we eat is detrimental to our long term health and well being. Not to mention, it certainly doesn’t help you stay motivated for the long haul.
Embrace these truths. One, you don’t need to earn your food. That’s a ridiculous notion that needs to die, and the sooner the better. Two, you don’t have to punish yourself with exercise for eating food. So you overindulged? You can’t change it. Forget about it, move on, and do something positive and productive. Three, and this is crucial, the actions you take in the name of better health and fitness (e.g. eating well and moving your body) should make your life better and make you feel good about yourself. Four, choose to be more and stop trying to be less.
Health and fitness should reduce your stress; it should improve your overall life.
For 2016 and beyond commit to ditching the deprivation, exercise-is-punishment mentality and harness a more practical, empowering approach. Eat well in a simple way that makes you feel good, and don’t follow a strict, all-or-nothing diet that ends in disaster. Stick to the proven basics: eat mostly real, minimally processed foods, consume plenty of fruits and vegetables and other plant based foods.
Move your body often in ways you enjoy. Instead of obsessing over how your body looks discover the amazing things it can do. Instead of focusing on fat loss strive to shatter self-imposed limitations you have about your physical prowess. Lift weights or perform bodyweight exercises and improve your physical strength. Discover a new hobby. Explore state and national parks. Do anything and everything you enjoy that makes you feel good.
Trade in the typical deprivation diet and grueling workout regimen for simple eating habits and move your body often, and make this process enjoyable, and you’ll be well on your way to better health, fitness, and a more awesome life.
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