Several of you have written to me about how to deal with the days when you don’t work; when you don’t follow a meal plan; and when you’re not supposed to participate in a physical activity. We tend to call these “off days” or “rest days”. Some people even have “off seasons” and I think these names are quite apt. I think the main idea or concept for those of us who get into and live the fitness lifestyle is that there is never a time when our bodies are not doing anything. The only time your body will come close to not doing anything is when you’re dead and then it’s still doing something; this is called decay. But seriously, we need to understand that being fit is more than a workout at the gym or a series of well-planned meals; it’s truly a lifestyle.
Popular attitudes to avoid
So often, I talk to people who are into bodybuilding and bodybuilding competitions. These are sports that I personally love and respect. These sports are characterised by a huge number of amazing athletes, and they have always held a firm place in my heart as some of my favourite personalities and friends. However, most people (but rarely athletes) tend to mislabel these people and mistakenly believe that they are the epitome of the fitness lifestyle. In most cases (there are exceptions), I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve lived this lifestyle most of my life, so I know what I’m talking about.
In my experience, most of these people are only engaged in a 24/7 fitness lifestyle when it’s time to prepare for a competition. Many of them don’t train for weeks at a time, eat whatever they want and binge drink, literally feeding themselves on food, then turn around and go on extreme diets to prepare for their show. Also, most people I’ve known in these sports (myself included at one point) only exercise and eat “clean” at different times of the year during the years they compete.
Over time, large fluctuations in body weight, excessive steroid use, and constantly changing dietary practises take their toll. Once their lives have moved past the competition phase, most of them tend to become recreational exercisers and end up with the same fitness deficiencies that most other people face. While sport is a great way to stay in shape and enjoy your life, we need to ensure that we create lifestyle qualities that will last beyond our competitive days. I have struggled with this for years, and I can say that it is a huge challenge for a former bodybuilder.
Get to know yourself It’s going to be a long ride.
Living fit (for life) means that you recognise your body’s physical fitness deficiencies and develop a lifestyle that will improve and maintain them at a high level. It really is that simple. It’s not a get ripped-up in the summer, then get all the weight back in the fall kind of lifestyle. Of course, there are times when a capable person can decide on an aspect of fitness and improve it significantly to enjoy its benefits, but remember, there is no stopping point.
This is a key concept that is so simple, yet so missing in most people’s lives. The fitness lifestyle never stops. It doesn’t stop when you stop playing sports, it doesn’t stop when you get married, or it doesn’t stop when you start your own business. There is no stopping point for those who live fitly. Of course, we all have setbacks, struggles, and challenges to overcome, but we overcome them. We know that these setbacks, struggles, and challenges will be overcome by living a fitness lifestyle. In other words, we don’t change our lifestyle to solve problems; we solve problems by maintaining our lifestyle. As simple as this sounds, I have found that this is probably the most difficult aspect of life that most people face.
Of course, there are meals, days, and times when we do things that go against our fitness beliefs and lives. But they are the exception, not the rule. These things are allowed into our lives as breaks from the norm, as brief events that add to our lives in other ways and are worth the cost.
Some examples may be:
- There are so many positive things that come out of eating cake with your child on their birthday.
- Having a drink with an old friend who needs to talk to—friends are priceless; it won’t hurt you.
- Many things in life are irreplaceable, like enjoying cultural events, enjoying local food and drinks.
So you get the picture. Living fit isn’t about sporting six-pack abs all year long (but it can include that) until you get married and then adopt a beer belly. Living fitly is about choices and actions throughout your life that lead to the improvement of your physical condition as your life moves from phase to phase and from relationship to relationship. The thing I love most about the fitness lifestyle is that it’s never too late to start. This is an amazing concept that has changed the lives of millions of people, including me, and it can do the same if you want it to.
I encourage you to take a hard look at the many lifestyle choices you make now and consider ways to incorporate a healthier fitness mindset into those things to build and create a lifestyle that will keep you in great fitness from now on. forward. You can do it! A fit lifestyle is a choice, and that choice is yours.
Here’s to you!