Are you tired of the one-size-fits-all approach?


Over the last 8 months I have been on a dietary and exercise journey. My background is in sports – the basic weight loss rule taught was that to lose weight you needed to eat low fat and do long exercise. Now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction – Low Carb High Fat is the way to eat, short and sharp the way to exercise. After changing our diet as a family and experiencing the benefits of eating a whole-foods diet (not necessarily always LCHF) I am sold on the change, however I am not sold on the new way to exercise.


I am naturally very competitive and really enjoy training to race – it gives me a goal and motivation. Between children I have competed in the State Ocean Swim Series (swimming always having been my sport of choice). We now live rurally and have direct access to forestry tracks and bush trails, this prompted me to take up running (the one sport I have always hated) and I love it! I completed the Full Monty Costal Challenge in 2012 and plan on giving it another go in 2015.


Here-in lies the problem – I have always trained by doing distance, but from the reading I have done, long cardio is now seen as a stress inducing, cortisol producing sure fire way to gain weight. So what do you do? I thought I would give the short, sharp, body weight, sprint sessions a go - my conclusion … I don’t like it!! It doesn’t work for me – I get grumpy because my muscles are sore, I gain weight and I don’t get the ‘time-out’ that comes with the swimming and trail running I love. Cardio works for me – I love running along bush tracks and zoning out in the pool. This time is important to me for time out from life, it gives me thinking space – it is often when I have my best ideas and it seems to be the best way for me to lose or maintain my weight. Exercise nourishes my soul – I need it, but for it to really work I need it to be exercise that I enjoy doing, not just exercise for the sake of exercise or to prescribe to a formula that we have been told is the ‘new best way’.  


If you hate structured exercise then it probably isn’t something you should be forcing yourself to do, go for a walk, dig in the garden, play with the kids and eat a healthy whole-foods diet. It is important to be active but I am tired of people constantly selling quick fixes to lose weight, gain muscle, tone the flabby bits and fit into those jeans that are three sizes too small that you should never have brought in the first place (speaking from experience here). These programs may work in the short-term but if you get no pleasure out of what you are doing then there is no way you are going to be able to stick to it long-term. 


My conclusion – stop trying to fit your life/exercise into a prescribed formula and just stick to doing what you love. It is good to mix it up a bit and I will still be doing some short, sharp sessions but this is no longer what my training will be based on. I love exercising, competing and being fit and I hope it is something that I will continue to do for the rest of my life. I am going to keep an open mind and try new things but mostly I am just going to do what I love.