So you’ve made the decision to start incorporating exercise and nutrition into your life ... or to bring it back in to your life. But how? Nowadays, there are a million and one methods, programs, philosophies, you name it, available. Not only is it a very personal choice deciding what works for you, your life, and your goals ... but it's overwhelming.
Do I do Body Pump or Cross Fit?
Do I lift weights exclusively or mix in cardio?
Do I eat vegan or try paleo?
And, even with decisions like these to make, it seems like everyone and their mother has an opinion as to what you should be doing. Sometimes these opinions are warranted, sometimes they aren't. Either way, it's challenging trying to find the right wellness path for you.
Here we have a brief guide to help you make the right choices:
STEP 1: Ask yourself ... Will it help you achieve your goals? Exercise and nutrition can do many things to help improve your quality of life, but make sure what it promises to improve is what is important to you. If you’re interested in dropping two sizes, a plan that improves your endurance may not be right for you. Often there is some overlap, and you can get stronger while losing weight for example, but make talk to other people already on the program and see if they’re seeing the results you desire. If you’ve been on a plan for a while, and, despite following it faithfully, you’re not seeing anything, perhaps it’s time for a new plan.
STEP 2: Ask yourself ... Will it fit your life? For any plan or methodology to work, it likely needs to be followed fairly consistently. Make sure that what it asks of you is something you’re willing and able to do. If it requires going to the gym four days per week, but you know family commitments will seldom allow for that, try something else. If the plan forbids any carbs but you love lasagna more than Garfield, consider seeing what else is out there.
STEP 3: Ask yourself ... Will it keep you safe? Exercise should not inherently cause you injury. You might feel sore after a workout, but a workout that damages your joints or other tissues, or makes preexisting injuries feel worse is unacceptable. Likewise, a good nutrition program should not leave you feeling dizzy, or so hungry that you can’t see straight. Make sure your program accounts for any injuries you currently are working with, and doesn’t do anything to leave you feeling worse instead of better.
STEP 4:Ask yourself ... Will you enjoy it? Make sure that the plan doesn’t sound like something you will absolutely loath. Stepping out of your comfort zone or trying new things is important, but if your plan asks you to regularly do things that you just don’t feel comfortable doing, find something else! A good plan should be approached as a lifestyle change, with no set end day, so if the idea of doing any aspect of it regularly and indefinitely sounds like something you won’t really enjoy, look for a plan that incorporates things that you find interesting, exciting, or fun!
Use these questions to help you select a plan and give your wellness goals the chance it deserves. All plans will need some time to truly take effect. Try giving it three months before reevaluating. Ask yourself the same four questions again to self audit. If the answer ever becomes “no” to even one of the questions, talk to your coach about adjustments that can be made, or consider trying something else. Exercise and nutrition can require extra time and energy that few of us have in surplus each day, but if it fulfills the above requirements, the benefits can be well worth it!!