When I titled this entry, I chuckled at its simplicity and duh factor. But at the end of the day, staying fit and healthy is a mental challenge, and you need to provide yourself the best method to stay in the game. Based on your daily life filled with work, family, social, financial, and other worries, it’s not as simple as it may seem. My last blog post was about resolutions and how I feel they can be a recipe for disaster as you can set an unrealistic goal for yourself based solely on a date on the calendar.
My definition of living a healthy lifestyle is one that you will see everywhere – good nutrition and exercise. It all starts with good nutrition, because no amount of exercise will offset bad nutrition. With that said, I have changed my viewpoint on nutrition, based on my change from a cardio based eat low-fat low carb mentality to a resistance training with some cardio and tracking macros approach. I find the latter to be more sensible, as it allows for more flexibility with the enjoyment of food. With bodybuilding, simply put, you calculate your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) which will provide you calories to eat to maintain, and then adjust your eating habits if you want to lose weight or gain mass (cutting and bulking in the bodybuilding world) by eating 10-20% above TDEE to bulk and 10-20% below TDEE to cut. Using an app like MyFitnessPal has been an invaluable tool for me, as I can control my weight fluctuation based on my daily food intake because I know pretty accurately what I am eating. You have to eat every day, so smart nutrition is a daily work-in-progress.
Exercise is the wild card, because each of us have different abilities and circumstances. You may like running, or weight training, or cycling, or indoor cardio, or taking fitness classes. There are almost endless possibilities in what you can do to stay fit. I could sit here and tell you based on my research that resistance training is probably the best method to stay fit, as you can use resistance training to gain lean muscle while still enjoying heart-healthy cardio benefits, all of which will help you with weight control. I’ve spent 26 years actively “working out” – started with a Nordic Track, did lots of cardio for decades with the elliptical, running, spinning, etc. Now I am weight training, using cardio only for its heart benefit and doing such 1-2 times per week. Muscle burns fat as well if not better than spending 1 hour doing cardio that might burn 400 calories, whereas after a weight training session your body continues to burn fat. I’ve proven this to myself, as I can control my weight better now than I used to on the cardio train.
At the end of the day, when I mentor others with their fitness goals, my only true objective is to find a program that a person wants to do every day. Regardless of all the research out there comparing various forms of fitness, if you are doing any form of fitness, it’s better than doing nothing at all. I may not personally like to run, but if that’s your thing, then you should be doing it. Exercise for me is a release. I enjoy it as it helps clear the mind and give me a sense of accomplishment, all the while knowing I am doing something good for my body.