On my personal quest to become fit, I noticed a recurring theme: balance. I also noticed a repeating pattern: balance usually comes with three components. Picture a 3-legged stool. A balanced exercise program includes cardio, strength training and flexibility training. A proper diet is composed of the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Cardio workouts are composed of a combination of mode, intensity and duration. Strength training workouts feature combinations of load, reps and sets. You get the idea. So this is the first installment of a blog series where I explore the various 3-legged stool patterns in fitness. What they all will have in common is balance. When it comes to fitness and, I believe, life itself seeking balance is the healthiest approach.
If a well-balanced individual is one who can nurture herself mind, body and soul then fitness is clearly the “body” leg of that stool. A fit life is one that balances diet, exercise and sleep/rest. Each of these three components of fitness will be explored in-depth in future posts. While each post will have different content as compared to one another, the balance theme will be stressed in all of them.
Balance is moderation, it is the opposite of extreme. When it comes to diet, deprivation or removal of entire food groups from one’s diet (without the existence of a food allergy or diet-limiting disease) is just as extreme as consuming a high calorie daily diet. There has been some scientific evidence indicating that extreme exercise can be detrimental to the long-term health of some individuals, making it possibly no more healthy than a sedentary lifestyle. It is known that not enough sleep impairs cognitive function and can alter hormones in the body causing us to overeat. Not having proper rest and recovery days from exercise can lead to muscle deterioration, a drop in athletic performance (over-training), repetitive motion and overuse injuries and even illness. Balance is the key and, therefore, a worthy and necessary topic when it comes to fitness.
When it comes to your life, are you balanced mind, body and soul? When it comes to your fitness – the body (diet, exercise, sleep), what is the “leg” most in need of repair? Taking a balanced approach to that repair means taking it in small, gradual steps. If you think about it, taking huge leaps that are unrealistic set you up for failure and, as such, are just as extreme as doing nothing at all. If you find you need lots of work in all three areas, begin by picking one area to concentrate on first. Remember that losing weight or gaining strength and flexibility are short-term goals but not the end points. Fitness is the end game but it’s not as much a long-term goal as it is a lifestyle. The dress size you want to fit into is for tomorrow, being fit is for all your tomorrows. Take things too quickly or make changes too drastically and you will burn-out. But incorporate a series of small changes over a long period of time and the changes become seamless, part of the fabric of your every day life. This is not to say that it’s easy. This process is about patience, endurance and perseverance. But you have a much better chance of fighting through the changes that need to be made if they are in small, realistic bits as opposed to big, intimidating chunks. Balance.
When you are most stressed, what parts of your life are most out of balance? Which part of a fit life is eluding you the most? Those are the areas that need to be made a priority. Now is the time to break out the tool boxes and start fixing some stool legs. And be prepared to sit pretty, proudly and fit.