Now lets start off by being clear. By ‘hanger’, I do not mean the thing you use to hang your clothes in the closet. This kind of hanger, the one that is the product of constant yoyo dieting, resulting in hunger leading to anger, is the one I want to discuss today. Specifically, I want to address some of the old health and fitness adages that lead so many of us down this destructive path.
With that said, I am kicking off a 6-part series in which I want to discuss nutrition, as it relates to health and fitness. Being knee deep in nutrition knowledge as I work on my Precision Nutrition Level 1 certification, I thought what better time then now to start this discussion.
Over the course of the next 6 weeks I will be covering the following topics in more depth, in the hopes of offering some insight about the importance of nutrition as it relates to our health and fitness:
Week One – Lets Start a Hanger Strike
Week Two – The Perils of Yo Yo Dieting
Week Three – Carbs: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Week Four – Does Fat Make Me Fat?
Week Five – Protein: Your Metabolic Powerhouse
Week Six – The Wrap Up: Achieving Balance
So back to my initial statement about starting a Hanger Strike. I thought this was as good a place as any to start, as I want you all to now make a vow to stop being hungry and therefore stop being angry about being hungry! To achieve a state of balance, neither of these feelings can exist on your journey to a stronger you. In actuality, these very feelings are probably standing in your way of getting great results. So where do I start you might ask?
Lets start by throwing out some old adages about what it means to be strong in body and mind.
1. Your results are only as good as the weight on your scale.
NOPE! Dead wrong. And if you are the kind of person that falls victim to this trap, get out now! While the scale can be a great tool on your journey, it can also be a HUGE crutch. Body change is not linear. It’s going to ebb and flow. Some days the scale is going to be your best friend, some your worst enemy. Start to get ok with that. Instead look for results that don’t promote such fixation, like how your clothes fit, how well you managed your portions that day or focusing on your great qualities instead of superficial ones such as weight. Trust me, NO ONE cares what you weigh, other than YOU. So give yourself a break from the scale and start focusing on different variables that can be even more empowering than a number.
2. Fit people look like fitness models on the cover of magazines.
RIGHT! Because we all have the same genetic composition right? WRONG! Even though we know this, we still somehow refuse to believe this, and often find ourselves chasing unattainable goals. Yes, would it be awesome to have Jillian Michael’s abs or Gwenyth Paltrow’s legs? Sure! But guess what, we are not Jillian Michaels or Gwenyth Paltrow. We are us. Genetically flawed or gifted, we are uniquely us. Instead of trying to be something we are not, why not just try being the strongest version of ourselves by growing a little each and every day. Yes, most of us will never look like the models on the cover of fitness magazines, but you know what? That’s ok. We are fine just the way we are right now. Wanting to get better is in no way a crime. Just set attainable goals and work at it everyday. Slow and steady wins the race.
3. Healthy people eat right 100% of the time and exercise constantly.
Man, if this were possible we would all be Super(wo)man! But lets be honest. It takes an immense amount of willpower to eat right 100% of the time and exercise constantly. Probably a lot more willpower than the average person has. And yes, there are the few mutants who can live this way, but I would argue it’s really no way to live! Generally, when you encounter a person that lives by these rules, they are massively compromising in other areas of their lives, such as in their social life or relationships. Because something has got to give if you are spending that kind of energy on healthy living, and social and relationship time tends to take the hardest hit. So ask yourself, would you be willing to give up happy hour with the girls on Friday or date night with your husband just to make sure you met your ridiculously out-of-whack health and fitness goals? Chances are you wouldn’t be ok with it and you shouldn’t! Life, even a healthy one, is all about balance. Deprivation only leads to resentment and no one likes to feel resentful. Go into your journey knowing you are not going to be perfect, and allow yourself some indulgences. Perfect is the enemy of good.
4. Body transformation can happen in 10 days or less!
What a load of (mind my language) bull crap! However, just about every health and fitness magazine will tell you otherwise. They all tout some magical way or system to drop ten pounds in ten days or an iron clad way to get the bikini body you’ve always wanted. But most of these methods or systems are built around the very concept I talked about above…deprivation. Oh, if you just give up all carbs or if you drink this magical lemon water cayenne concoction the fat will just melt right off! Even though we know this isn’t true and any results we achieve from these types of methods are short lived, we still continue to fall prey to them. That needs to stop! Any sustainable body change is not going to happen overnight, let alone in 10 days. The type of change most of us are after is going to take time. Sometimes more time than we feel we have the patience for, but if you stick with it and refuse to give up, even in the moments you really want to, you will grow and change in ways you never imagined. Body change starts in the mind, not in the body. If you believe you can change, that is half the battle. Just don’t believe the hype.
5. You can out-train a bad diet.
Boy do I wish this one was true, but alas, I know from personal experience, this is just so far from the truth. Exercise can be a super valuable tool in your journey to a stronger you, but if you haven’t taken a look at your diet and resolved any issues that are preventing results, no amount of exercise is going to make a difference. In reality, you can achieve a lean and healthy body with diet alone, I have seen this happen in my own life when I spent 3 weeks of focused time on my nutrition. Weight came off like it never had before and I was exercising almost ZERO. While I very much valued learning the power diet has over body composition, this was not a sustainable lifestyle for me personally, as I LOVE to exercise and move. And I could tell pretty early on that eating for physique alone was never going to cut it for me. I LOVE food and exercise equally and no scale weight is going to dictate how I approach either. For me, balance is essential. My body performs better when I feed it the right quality and quantity to sustain the types of activities I like to engage in. And I believe this to be true for everyone. Finding your unique balance is critical to becoming the strongest version of yourself. So be your own detective and find what works best for you, remembering always that no amount of overtraining can make up for a diet that is less than ideal.
This week, examine the adages I talked about here and if and where they apply to your life. All of us fall victim to one or more of these at some point in our lives, but we have the power to stop letting them get in the way of progress. Choose progress over perfection and you will always come out on top!
Stronger on a hanger strike!