Fitness, nutrition, and health are the latest fads. And well, since they can actually be good for you and life-changing, I have grown to be okay with people doing random things. Not that anyone asked me for my opinion except myself.

Within these fads though is an opportunity for a good chunk to actually make certain routines and habits a lifestyle. Because that's the larger point that I believe in - you need to make healthier changes to your life for the rest of your life. They need not be the same but you are generally going to keep making forward progress for a long, long time.

Let me use wellness as a term to encapsulate taking care of our

  1. physical fitness. This means we do some form of activity regularly. Walking, yoga, swimming, playing a sport, strength training etc come in here.
  2. nutrition. This means we eat nutritious foods and have a healthy relationship with food. This is harder than it sounds.
  3. sleep, stress, lifestyle, and mental wellness. This means we pay attention to them and have a handle on them.
Photo by Bekir Dönmez / Unsplash

As you can see, this is a lot of things. And these are not meant to be done as a 6-week spurt and then forgotten about. The spurt is useful to get you out of your inertia and then continue on it. Because working on our wellness opens up a lot of bigger and better things in our life. Initially, we might focus on just outcomes like weight loss and that's absolutely okay. Once we hit them, or we realise they don't scratch our itch, we want to go way beyond them.

This does not mean elevating outcome requirements to silly levels though.

I believe that working on wellness will (and should lead to)

  • buying time
  • buying money
  • and buying peace of mind

forward progress

Forward progress, or seeing some measure of results is almost always the catalyst for this. While most of us start things, finishing what we start by staying the course is much much harder. And a lot of us fall by the wayside on this one.

I have students who've been consistent for 3+ years who've transformed their wellness by making spurts and then consolidating them. And I have students who started off around the same time but go up and down with their commitment levels, or get distracted by something else that's come in - a new diet or a magic exercise routine. And they come back a few years later in about the same place.

We all want to see forward progress, for sure. But that requires us to be aware of ALL the things that can be changing for the better and not just the one-dimensional outcome we are thinking about.

What I've seen is that it (working on wellness) eventually becomes a core part of you when we realise that we feel better physically and mentally. That taking care of yourself feels good. You just look and feel better. Your identity and confidence levels soar.

A silhouette jumping above the sun
Photo by Marc Najera / Unsplash

Because doing the right thing feels darn good!

but how do we know if it is the right thing?

That's always the problem, isn't it?

Sounds simple, even trivial. The right thing is the right thing. But unfortunately, fads and scams abound. There are plenty of people with an opinion on fitness and nutrition when they are not qualified to project that opinion as a method.

Hiring a coach is not easy. For one, it can be expensive. And two, how do you know that they are any good? Just because they look ripped? Or do fancy things on video?

Even when you hire a qualified good coach, let's say from The Quad or StrongFirst, it does not mean things will pan out. Because you need to align with them on mindset, on key values, on process vs outcomes. If there's no alignment, then even a good coach will not make you happy because you are looking for something else.

So, let's simplify it. You need an impartial assessment for "Am I making forward progress?". This can include you answering the following questions.

  • am I enjoying this?
  • am I making forward progress? This involves measuring a few variables. Waist and weight for fat loss, or fitting into your old clothes. Blood markers for health. Productivity. Happiness. Mental alertness. Some are vague and require you to be qualitative. Some are quantitative.
  • does this make sense?

Whatever we come up with is important, and we need to keep assessing our methods to ensure we are making forward progress. Our goals and assessments will evolve with time - so don't worry about creating the perfect question.

finding peace of mind

But once we know we are doing more right than wrong i.e. we are enjoying what we are doing, it is sustainable, it is not a chore, we don't need to keep digging into inner motivation all the time, and we are seeing progress - magic happens.

Because we know our effort matters. And since effort is all we control, we can redouble our efforts. Or at least, stay on the path.

We feel recharged. We feel mentally confident. We know what we are doing.

There's clarity. And with clarity, there's peace of mind.

And once you have that peace of mind, you are not easily waylaid or confused by

  • But my weight hasn't dropped
  • I have to lose 10 kilos in 10 weeks
  • Should I do a keto diet + do this intermittent fasting?
  • And a CrossFit session in the morning and a short HIIT workout in the evening?
  • Oh, how long do I have to keep this up?
  • Can I have ice-cream?
  • I had ice-cream but I feel so guilty.
  • When can I have a 'cheat' meal? Can I have a cheat meal? Should I have one?

and so on. Instead, you know you are on the path. What you are doing is making you better, and you can keep going.

woman with baby on her back hiking an adventerous path on top of a mountain
Photo by Ante Hamersmit / Unsplash

And slowly it becomes part of you.

It snowballs. You eat vegetables because you eat vegetables. Not because you HAVE to. You get activity because you enjoy it. Not because you HAVE to. You don't think about cheat meals, nor do you feel guilty when you have a beer or ice-cream.

You have peace of mind. And seriously, that's priceless.