I remember a time when I was training one of my clients at the gym and spotted a woman buying water out of the nearby vending machine. This member was someone I’ve known for years through group exercise and through the gym community, but she’s someone I hadn’t seen in a while. I actually did a double take when I saw her because of her noticeable physique change and fat loss.
I waved hi to her and asked her how she was doing. When she said great, I told her that she looked great too (not that she didn’t before!). She smiled, said thank you, and said she was trying.
She then paused for a second, looked back up at me, and said:
“I just stopped stressing about everything, you know?”
“I stopped logging everything, tracking everything, and trying to control everything.”
“I stopped caring about the numbers.”
I replied, “it’s so freeing, isn’t it?”
I wish we could have chatted longer, but I had to continue on with my current client.
Tracking, planning, and logging can definitely help keep some of us honest and on track, but for many others, doing so is just not a sustainable or enjoyable long-term behavior. I personally feel like planning and logging and obsessing about everything just becomes another thing on my to do list and can actually add MORE stress to all things diet and exercise.
I used to plan my weekly workouts to such a T that I have years of Weekly Workout blog posts that I shared on Fitness & Feta on Mondays to hold myself accountable every week. To whom exactly? I’m not sure.
I also used to plan and prep all my food for the week. I’d map out my entire week, figure out the exact breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner that I thought I should eat every day, and then I’d buy all the ingredients needed and make it all ahead of time. Every single damn Sunday. So many Sundays lost!
When we panic about not getting in an exact number of workouts each week, when we nitpick over the exact amount of calories on our plates, and when we are in a tumultuous relationship with that dreaded number on the scale, fitness just does not feel easy, does it? How can it?
Finding a healthy lifestyle that works for you for the long-term will not be enjoyable if it’s not stress free.
Some things to think about:
- If tracking, planning, and logging feels overwhelming, it’s not for you.
- If you focus on quantity (number of workouts, number of calories, number of meals prepped, etc.) over quality, this WILL catch up to you. You will be in a yo-yo cycle of on again/off again. You’ll repeatedly get hurt from overtraining (been there), you will end up overeating later (been there), and you will end up in a place of negativity where you are hard on yourself all of the time because you constantly feel like you have to “start over” (been there).
- It IS possible to just move and eat sensibly without having to worry so much about all of the different tips you see and hear out there about what you are supposed to be putting on your plate and what you are supposed to be doing in the gym.
- One less than perfect meal is not going to make or break your physique…. and eating “perfectly” at every meal is impossible to do forever. In fact, when I used to try to control my eating by prepping all my food ahead of time, I inevitably would want to eat something different by the end of the week, and I’d waste a good portion of the meals I had previously marched around like a madwoman to get prepped in time. Even worse, I’d end up overeating on other things because my prepped meals were “too perfect” and unsatisfying to me.
- One skipped workout is not going to make or break your physique… and working out multiple times a day and not missing a session is impossible to do forever.
- Your physique is a result of small actions, day in and day out… actions that you are capable of maintaining forever.