I used to be one of those people who claimed that getting and staying in shape was all about lifestyle.
Now I say the opposite. You don’t have to have a fitness lifestyle to get in shape. It’s blasphemy to say, I know, but here me out. I’m walking proof that one doesn’t need a lifestyle dedicated to diet and exercise to stay in shape.
On the surface, I may be the epitome of a fitness geek with the lifestyle to match. I am after all a personal trainer and I work in a shop building, fixing and selling fitness equipment. I also keep this blog. So it may seem like my life revolves around fitness, but it doesn’t.
Take today for example;
I woke up at 7 am and wolfed down a grab ‘n go breakfast of yogurt and fruit as I headed to the gym for training. While there I stayed on my feet but didn’t get any more activity than someone shopping at a grocery store. I did however manage to get in a quick 20 minute workout of dips and Glute-Hamstring raises.
From there it was on to my day job where I sat in a truck for 3 hours to build an elliptical in a barn only to drive 3 hours back. For lunch I stopped at a deli and got a foot long sub.
At the end of the day, I went out for some Chinese food. When I got back, I did what many Americans do. I sat on the couch and stared at a screen. Some of the screen watching was to type this up and some was to watch a movie.
So while my jobs are technically in the fitness field, they are often not much different from any other job that has someone on their feet or turning wrenches.
My diet is a good mix of foods but you wouldn’t ever label it as strict or typical of a fitness professional. I just eat a wide variety of foods and I keep the basic skills that prevent me from eating too much and getting fatter.
My workouts are simple and basic and I fit them in when and where I can. It’s usually in the 30 minutes in the morning or after dinner. I know many non-fitness people who fly desks for a living who spend more time working out than I do.
So on the surface I may look like a fitness-lifestyle type guy but deep down I don’t live much differently from the typical blue collar worker who eats at the local deli and hits the gym on their way home from work. I could be a mechanical repair guy who moonlights as a waiter and my lifestyle wouldn’t be really any different from a diet and exercise stand point.
And yet despite not having the perfect fitness lifestyle, I’m leaner, faster, stronger, and healthier than probably 95% of the population here in Vermont. So how can that be? How can I be in shape when my lifestyle isn’t centered around sticking to a strict diet spend my free time working out?
The answer of course is because I understand the principals of Fitness Independence. The heart of which is through the skillful practice of the root causes of the aspics of fitness.
The cool thing about the root causes of weight loss, muscle building, strength and skill development is that they don’t require a particular lifestyle.
I don’t care what your lifestyle looks like. If you have more calories going out than are going in then you’ll lose weight. You can be a drinker, a smoker and eat Slim-Jims for breakfast. If your caloric intake and output are equal than you won’t gain weight.
I don’t care if you don’t make getting to the gym the central activity of your day. Heck you could just lift rocks in your back yard or do as I do and workout on the monkey bars at the local playground. As long as the tension of a muscle is applied with consistent and progressive practice it will get stronger.
And lastly I don’t care if you don’t make running the focus of your mental attention and lifestyle resources. As long as you practice running and progress your skills you will become a faster runner.
I often say that I’m no longer a bike racer, and that I’m just a guy who races his bike. Back in college, my whole life revolved around bike racing. Every day, every meal and every workout and even my relationships were shaped by bike racing. It was my lifestyle.
These days I ride my bike maybe twice a week and I even use training methods that might make me slower on the bike. And yet, despite it no longer being a focus of my lifestyle I’m still getting faster and more capable on the bike. It’s not because I’ve got a bike racing lifestyle. It’s only because I fulfill the root cause of becoming faster and stronger on the bike and nothing more.
Of course I’m not going to be going to the Olympics anytime soon. A dedicated lifestyle is required to reach your ultimate potential. But that doesn’t mean you must dedicate your daily life towards a diet and exercise program if you want to be in great shape. As long as you cover the root cause of your goals you will achieve them without exception.
Fitness success and results boils down to how well you fulfill the root cause of your goals regardless of what the rest of your lifestyle looks like. Granted some lifestyle habits can make it easier or harder to fulfill those root causes. If you stay out drinking every night I’m willing to bet you’ll have less energy to put your muscles under tension and make them stronger. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
In the end, this whole fitness lifestyle thing is nice, but it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to adhere to it. Making diet and exercise a major part of one’s lifestyle is great, but only if they truly desire that lifestyle and not everyone does. It’s almost impossible to force a lifestyle upon someone who doesn’t want it. You may be able to do it for some time, even for years, but eventually it falls through.
By focusing on the root cause rather than the lifestyle you gain the freedom to live life on your own terms and still be in shape anyway.