The way you approach health and fitness should not be an on/off button but a dial. A dial where you can choose your level of involvement at any given time.
At times you want to crank it up. And other times you have to dial it down to the absolute minimum to hear other things in life clearer. Big project at work? Turn the fitness dial down to get only the basics done. Quiet at work and extra time to rest and recover? Turn the dial up. But for the most part you should keep your dial somewhere in the middle.
It doesn’t sound exciting and to be honest it sounds rather boring doesn’t it. And it sure doesn’t sound what majority of the fitness industry wants you to believe. The fitness industry doesn’t sell you moderation. We are trying to sell you quick results in a short time. We are trying to make you believe that “going hardcore” is how you get anywhere. We are trying to guilt you to buying our products while selling training as a punishment for a life lived in “sin”.
Yet, using the dial will save you from ever going on strict diets. It will make all the quick result sold anywhere seem far less appealing. As a matter of fact using the dial will make quick results seem downright ridiculous. You can have your glass of wine, have a nice dinner with your mates and not feel bad about it. You should be able to enjoy the good times in life without feeling guilty afterwards.
Not every training session should be balls to the wall type of ordeal. You shouldn’t make each session a competition such as it is done in some parts of the fitness community (coughcrossfitcough). Your goal for training shouldn’t be to make yourself tired but to make yourself better. You don’t have to finish each training session feeling like you are about to cough up your pancreas. Especially while you are already stretched to the limit with work and life.
At those times you are more likely to get sick or injured as your body can’t cope with everything turned up to the max. That’s when the fitness dial needs to be turned down, not off, but down. Once life gives you a bit of leeway you can bring the fitness dial up again.
So what does it mean to “turn the fitness dial down”? Well, you can think what is the least you can do without going backwards. It could be just going for a long walk and relaxing. It could be to work on your movement for 20 minutes. It could be to focus on getting in a good breakfast each morning.
The brilliance of using the dial is that you are never too far from the middle. As a matter of fact you are probably in better shape in the winter than most people are in the summer. Whether you want to take it all the way is up to you but that’s not the point. The point is that you’ve figured out how to adjust the dial.
99% of the gym goer’s heads start to explode when September rolls around. It’s them who every spring go for the emergency fitness button to switch it from “off” to “on”. I like to think this sight as an emergency situation in a nuclear reactor where the red lights start to flash, where “Emergency! Evacuate (body fat) now!’ comes over the loudspeakers. Everybody loses their mind! They spend 2-3 months of the year trying to catch up a years worth of training and healthy eating. So many people struggle with their health and fitness because they see it as an on/off button. They join the gym, decide to train seven days a week on high intensity while at the same time drastically cutting calories.
Well, as we all know, it won’t last. Before you know it it’s January and these same people will push the button back to “off” position and forget it until the next spring. They’re life is a constant yo-yo diet. But that’s not you, you’ve learned to adjust the dial to move with you in whatever life throws at you.
So here’s the takeaway: not too much, not too little, but just enough. As a matter of fact that’s a pretty good rule for life in general. Sounds sexy doesn’t it.
To give the credit where credit is due, this post was inspired by everything and anything ever written by Dan John.