When most people ask me about fitness and nutrition, they ask me to tell them exactly what they need to do to transform their bodies. They want a plan with simple rules that they can seamlessly implement into their everyday lives. In essence, they want to know what to do without knowing the why. The problem with this approach is that it creates dependency on a protocol that isn't always functional or viable in the long-term. Who really enjoys drinking juice for seven days straight? And how realistic is it to have your life revolve around extreme workouts and restrictive diets?
Research continues to affirm that exercise and diet have a protective effect against disease -- we know it's good for us. This information is a powerful motivator by itself, but beyond enjoying the health benefits of exercise, I choose to embrace an active and healthy lifestyle because it gives me the ownership over my own life. There are many aspects of life that we have little or no control over, but nutrition and exercise are among the few in which our own decisions can greatly influence the quality of our lives. Our bodies are our own, and we can choose to nourish them with food and movement that make us feel good. The outcome of our actions are contingent on our choices as individuals, and it is our personal responsibility to make well-informed decisions when it comes to our health.
If you don't understand what you're doing, you're more likely to continue riding the fad-diet/exercise bandwagon, hopping on and off with results coming as quickly as they go. If you are genuinely interested in making real changes, make it your mission to be fully committed to your beliefs and personal philosophies. Often times you will realize that what you were initially doing was right all along, yet you abandoned it for the latest fad because you lacked the confidence. If we understand the reasoning behind our actions, we are more inclined to make better, more sustainable choices that inevitably create a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
In the time that it takes you to read this blog, there are going to be hundreds of new articles about the latest diet and exercise trends, but they may or may not be the right answers to your questions. Strength coach Dean Somerset duly noted that, "there is no system holding fitness professionals accountable for what they say and the advice they give," and they can say what they want without any repercussion. With that in mind, I encourage you to invest a little time to educate yourself, do some research, and understand how to separate the credible information from the unsound. Question any statement before accepting it as a truth. Seek out credible sources, learn from them, and try out the principles that resonate the most with you -- I call for every one of us to self-experiment!
Above scientific theory or any professional opinion, your own real world results are what ultimately matter. Embrace the evidence, but also consider personal results when it comes to finding the right formula for you. We all have unique DNA blueprints and respond differently to training programs and dietary interventions; there is no instant fix nor a one-size-fits-all solution for transformation.
We must do more than blindly follow -- we must question, assess, apply, and modify as needed to suit our individual situations. Authentic transformation happens, both externally and internally, by getting to know yourself and figuring out what works and doesn't work -- you know yourself better than anyone else does.
How to Self-Experiment:
- Eliminate or add items to your dietary and/or exercise plan for at least one month.
- Evaluate your progress qualitatively by analyzing how you look and feel.
- Resume with or remove the items one at a time to assess how each item affected you.
- Continue incorporating the variables that were successful while avoiding the ones that weren't.
- Repeat this process and refine as necessary. There is always room for improvement. Never stop learning about yourself, and enjoy the process!
The essence of jeet kune do: 1. Research your own experience. 2. Absorb what is useful. 3. Reject what is useless. 4. Add what is specifically your own. -- Bruce Lee
Vote for Katie Yip for Women's Health magazine's Next Fitness Star competition at www.thenextfitnessstar.com.