Around this time of year in January, everyone and their mother wants to start that New Year’s Resolution to be healthy (yay you!). You get started with a super clean diet and you go to the gym at least 5 days a week and you. are. crushing it. Then by March, (or even sooner) you find yourself slipping back into your old habits.
Why do we do this? What is preventing us from sticking to our fitness goals and resolutions? I will tell you why. The answer is: we look at our goals as black and white.
The Dial Method
We all know that life isn’t as simple as black and white, there are many, many shades of gray. (Let’s not forget there are beautiful, vibrant colors as well!) But aside from that, we cannot go all-in 110% balls to the wall with our goals. It may work for a week or two, but our mind and body simply can’t handle that. We must do it slowly, or use the dial method.
We need to “dial in” our fitness goals. I read about this concept over at Precise Nutrition, a wonderful site for a ton of scientific, yet easy to absorb and apply knowledge. If you want to read even more about nutrition and fitness, I would check them out!
Adjusting Your Dial to Your Fitness Goals
So, think about it. If our life was on a dial, particularly our fitness and dieting goals for this instance, what would it look like? It would be on a scale from 1-10. Let’s say 1 is sitting on the coach like a potato and binge-watching Netflix. 10 can be eating all nutrient dense, non-processed foods (I’m looking at you kale smoothie) and running a triatholon in record time. But we as humans need to know when to dial things backwards or forward a couple notches. We shouldn’t immediately be going to 1 when we overate one day or going to 10 when January 1st rolls around. Do you understand what I am saying? Let me elaborate further.
To have a fairly consistent, healthy lifestyle, I would say it’s best to function in the 4-6 range for the average person. So, if functioning at a 5 is eating 80% healthy 20% other foods you enjoy and working out 3-5 days a week at an intensity that’s right for you, I would say that is something reasonable to keep up with.
Now, let’s say you became super crazy busy. You had to stay late at work, or you’re going on vacation and you can’t keep up with a 5 dial on the scale. Let’s dial it back to a 4. You are still making healthy choices when you go out to eat on vacation (limiting alcohol, going for a low-calorie veggie filled dinner option and skipping dessert). Heck, you even do a bodyweight circuit in the hotel gym or go on an outdoor hike! This is wonderful! You only dialed it back 1 notch instead of stuffing your face silly, getting black out drunk and laying in bed for 12 hours. (Not saying we don’t need those kinds of days every once in awhile, we just shouldn’t make a habit of that!)
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, let’s say you are having a particuarlly amazing energetic week. The stars are aligning, you have a bit of extra free time and motivation. Use this to your advantage! With healthier habits overall, these times will pop up more than you would expect! Maybe we need to dial up to a 6 or 7 on our fitness dial? You decide to meal prep all of your breakfast and luches for the week. You hit your 120 oz water goal every day, and you find yourself upping your weights in your lifts. This is awesome! Take advantage of these times when you can. However, don’t be afraid to dial back in a couple of weeks if something pops up that limits you or is going to burn you out.
Setting Your Dial Scale
The most important thing to remember with the fitness dial is going to be setting YOUR scale. A “10” for Jenny who is a mom who works full time with 3 kids at home may be a “5” for a college athlete. A “10” for a 65 year old man will look different from a “10” for a 25 year old man. As time goes on, and you progress, your numbers may also change around a bit. That’s when it’s time to re-evaluate yourself. So keep this in mind, find your limits and your sweet spot and listen to your body!
This method really forces you to be in tune with your body at all times, which is a great thing. It keeps you aware of your health status and your daily habits. It really prevents any bad habits from forming and forces you to slowly work on healthier ones! This method s a great way to look at living a healthier life without overwhelming yourself. Where is your dial at today?