RK Tip of the Week|Want optimal fitness? Take off the “kid gloves”.

Posted on June 4, 2010


When did we put start putting “kid gloves” on before talking with adults about their fitness, health, exercise & nutrition habits? The way many adults talk about their health, fitness & wellness habits…is like Noah saying the Great Flood was just a spring shower. Our estimations of what we are, how much we do, and how much we’re actually caring for ourselves is vastly under- or over-estimated, and it will certainly harm us in the long run.

We are doing ourselves no favors by saying that we’re actually doing things that we really are not in relation to our health, fitness & well-being. “I walk my dog every day, that counts as exercise.” “I really don’t eat that bad…I made Splenda & margarine cupcakes just the other day!…you see, a cupcake’s ok to eat if it’s got Splenda.”             Sigh.

Some of us have turned the conversation about our fitness & health into something we’re afraid to actually discuss openly & honestly with ourselves & each other. Telling Little Susy that she gets a gold star for raising her hand, despite answering the question wrong builds her self-confidence, but does it help her get ahead in the long run? Maybe. She’s a child, so esteem builders go a long way for them. But we’re all adults here. We need to have some honesty with our morning cup of self-esteem.

Why is the Weight Watchers message board filled with recipes for cupcakes, brownies & other desserts made with all the fake stuff necessary to get those entirely unhealthy treats to fit within the “Points” System that W.W.-ers live by? Because sadly, the vast majority of adults are being dishonest with themselves about what they are really doing (or not doing) to achieve health & wellness. Maybe not even realizing what they are doing in fudging the truth to themselves – but knowing or not, it is a dangerous untruth to tell when ones’ health & quality of life is involved. Cupcakes don’t belong in the diet of someone working to improve their health, nutrition, & fitness. Not even fake ones. The old mindset will never get replaced, heck, the taste buds will never get revamped if the body is still given sweet albeit fake ingredient snacks like cupcakes.

In order to get something we have got to give (or give up) something. And there, my friends, is the crux of the situation. To give up something, you’ve got to know what you’re giving up. To give something, you’ve got to know what you’re able to give – and when we tell ourselves little white lies about what we’re actually doing for our health & fitness – we never really know (or actually, we know, but we don’t consciously admit) that what we’re doing is not really on-point with what we need to be doing to live optimally healthy & well. You’re not giving up poor nutrition habits if you make cupcakes with fake butter & Splenda every other week. You’re not committing yourself to a regular physical fitness regime when you count physical fitness as walking the dog for 20 minutes.

To clarify the whole dog-walking-is-a-workout thing; when looking at metabolic burn for daily physical activity, my job as a personal trainer where I’m on my feet, carrying weights, squatting, lunging, bending over, pushing & pulling – is considered “light active office work.” Seriously. Not strenuous – ‘light’.  Walking the dog is awesome because it gets you moving, gets the muscles pumping, and for some people is the right place to start their physical fitness workouts. Key word here: START. Walking the dog should not be all that you do on your journey to optimal health & fitness. It can start there, but it should definitely not stay there!

When you’re sweating for an extended period of time most days of the week & are maintaining a stable, healthy, optimal weight – then a real, sweet, frosting covered cupcake is all yours once in a while! But when you’re not at a stable, ideal, fit weight & do not have control over your bad habits – 1 cupcake, even a fake one made with fake sweeteners – maintains the old lines of the brain that take you down the road to your bad habits.

To change your habits you’ve got to change the road you’re taking to your destination, because if your body is not functioning as it was designed to, and you’re walking around with more weight that you were designed to carry, the road you’ve been on probably is not the one you should stay on.

– Figure out where you are. What road have you taken? What have you or have you not been doing? Honestly.

– Figure out what road you’re supposed to be on. We’ll keep it simple – sweat most days of the week. Eat food. Not things that are made with lots of food chemicals. Acknowledge that fruit is God’s dessert -eat it- & cupcakes should remain a super special treat (and should always be made with real-deal ingredients).

– Travel that road over & over again, and if you get off the road, be honest about it & why it happened. Don’t lie to yourself & stay off the road once you realize you’ve gone off. Get back on immediately. You won’t have as much ground to make up if you do.

image by dhgate & istockphoto