Summer has been challenging in terms of my personal fitness and nutrition goals, but the few cool, beautiful days we've had lately have me feeling re-energized. I can either keep plugging along, cover up with my sweaters and head straight into the fourth quarter season without achieving my goals or I can put this surge of energy to good use!
Alwyn Cosgrove (Afterburn and WarpSpeedFatLoss) has said "it doesn't matter what you eat or how you exercise between Christmas and New Year's...but it matters how you eat and exercise between New Year's and Christmas!" Too many times we go into fall and winter with less than optimal habits. We'd like to blame it on the holiday activities and abundance of tasty treats, particularly from about mid December through the New Year's eve bash. The problem is, we probably loosened up on our habits once we wore that bathing suit in front of everyone for the first time this year. We never recovered from our cook-outs, only to head straight into school and work schedules, topped off by shelves of Halloween candy every time we go to the grocery. Can you visualize the snowball from there?
Next thing we know, we're only focused on our fitness and nutrition from January to about mid June! For some reason, this feels like a beginning and an end to our fitness and nutrition each year, when it should look like a continuum of improvement and maintenance. I think dieting and finite exercise programs have greatly contributed to this.
Unlike the beginning and end to a diet, optimal eating should be from meal to meal, day to day, week to week. Every single positive change you make in your eating habits can be sustained, resulting in a cumulative effect that builds over time, regardless of what time of year it is. This is a complete shift in mindset from beginning a diet and then trying to figure out what you're going to do when you get to eat real food again. That's what Cosgrove is talking about when he says that a relaxed week between Christmas and New Year's isn't the problem, it's how we spend all those other weeks.
The same is true of training. Every day offers an opportunity to get up and move. I have a friend who says the cooler weather makes her running easier. In my area we have lots of festivals and fairs, Race for the Cure, and numerous other opportunities to get outside still and be active. Many of us like to use pre-designed fitness programs. That's fine! I have several and complete them as written and use them for reference in putting together my own programs. If you choose a fitness program (I have several good ones recommended on this blog) be sure you're choosing one that matches your current goals. It should progress you on your journey, so that when you accomplish it you're ready for the next level. There is no real end! Think improvement and maintenance.
I'm challenging myself, and I'm challenging you, to decide now on a fitness and nutrition approach for the fall and the last few months of this year. Take positive action! Let's not think yet about what a great year 2010 will be, let's start now!
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