We’ve just wrapped up another lifestyle challenge and as we’ve always experienced, the results for those who completed the challenge as prescribed achieved amazing results. Something I said to the participants during the challenge was that the challenges have little to do with food and fitness – they’re about education and changing behaviour. Unless habitual changes are implemented, results are poor. It’s easy, however, to adhere to the changes during the course of the challenge. You have to log points daily and there’s a group of people doing the same, so there’s accountability. There are incentives for performing well, and you have a lot of hands on guidance. We’ve learnt that ongoing success after a challenge is more difficult, especially with particular personality traits.
There are two particular personality traits we see in the gym – those who are all-or-nothing, and those who are able to maintain a balanced approach.
The all-or-nothing sort (who happen to make up the bulk of CrossFit gyms around the world!) are better off having no chocolate at all instead of a little bit occasionally. It makes them want more so they’d rather say no to avoid the slippery slope. As you can imagine, these people do really well during a challenge. But they end up far off track within a few weeks thereafter.
And then they reel themselves in (or begin a new challenge), and then back down, and up, and down, and …….
If you’re the all-or-nothing sort, you know exactly what I’m talking about! You can manage it, though. But it starts with you accepting this personality trait, and then asking yourself some hard questions about your health and fitness. If you’re the all-or-nothing sort and want to enjoy lifelong health and fitness, read on. If not, see ya!
Here’s what you all-in sort need to do:
- Steer clear of your dietary weaknesses all the time. In lay terms, go “strict” all the time, and only have a treat every 12 weeks.
- Avoid methods that use portion control (macro/calorie counting). You are likely to end up justifying shitty food choices “because it fits your numbers,” and before you know it, it’s a bowl of ice-cream a day.
- Surround yourself with the sorts of people who are not just okay with your decisions, but support them too.
- Create support groups and make your goals and choices known to them because that creates accountability.
- Set up some aversion therapy for yourself to keep you from falling off the bandwagon.
People who are able to maintain a balanced approach can have that little block of chocolate and feel satisfied. They go on eating well most of the time and have a few weekly treats or manage a less than optimal food source occasionally.
If you’re the sort who is able to balance their nutrition the approaches are largely the same, but with a few additions:
- Identify whether eating “clean” 80% or 90% of the time works better for you.
- The 10-20% shouldn’t be cheats, they should be treats.
- Set yourself weekly dietary and training goals to attain in order to have a treat. For example, train on five days of the week and you can have a milkshake.
- Treats should be meals or snacks, not days.
- Portion control methods will work well for you, as long as you don’t get sucked into thinking that it’s all good to make up your portions with anything other than whole foods.
Which boat do you fit in? Be honest, and then get on with the changes!