At Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology in Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville and Randwick we discuss with our client’s on a regular basis how important it is to play the long game with your health.
With summer just around the corner many people are thinking this is a good time to kick start a new gym routine, tighten up your diet, and get ready to put on your summer wardrobe. Often people achieve this through a short-term challenge, competing against others to see how much improvement can be made during a set period of time. This is often effective, but before embarking on a dramatic change it is important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of the nature of these challenges.
- You WILL get fast results
Challenges can be a great kick start to change your diet, hit the gym hard and religiously stick to a new routine. Of course, these changes will likely result in improvements in your body composition and fitness levels.
- Motivation comes seamlessly
Competing against others (or a goal you have set for yourself), letting friends and family know you’re involved in a challenge, and knowing you’re setting up for that great before and after picture all work to increase the barriers to sleeping in, taking an extra rest day or having that cheat meal.
- Goal setting becomes easy with a concrete start and end date
As human beings we are inherently comfortable with “I am not drinking for 2 months”, “I will go to the gym 5 days per week for 3 months”, etc. instead of “I am the person who has my set health non-negotiables”. Committing to a change over a period of time is much easier than committing to a permanent change of lifestyle.
- You will achieve a rate of improvement that is unsustainable
A dramatic drop in weight over a short period of time will result in a drop in metabolic rate. This means that maintaining your new weight is more difficult than if you allowed a greater period of time to achieve the same results.
A drop in metabolic rate promotes binging and leads to an unhealthy relationship with your health.
- You increase the risk of injury
With regard to exercise, a dramatic increase in workload comes with an increased risk of injury. Even the best program giving “adequate” rest will be a shock to your muscles and risk significant injury at worst, or days of extreme muscle soreness at best.
- You are only thinking short term and your lifestyle will likely return to pre-challenge status
When the challenge is over you are mentally finished with your new lifestyle. After all, a sprinter doesn’t continue to run around the track after they cross the finish line. What now? You likely go back to your old habits (after a few days of binging), resulting in a return of the vicious cycle and a gradual gain back to your initial weight, often more.
Challenges can be a good way to kick yourself into a new health phase and create more structure with a timeline to improve. Although you may be healthy in the short term (often the level of restriction during this period is unhealthy), the long term consequences of poor relationships with food and exercise can have negative effects that outweigh the benefits you experience during the challenge.
Speak to the team at Longevity Personal Training and Exercise Physiology in Edgecliff, Lindfield, Marrickville and Randwick on 1300 964 002 as we promote making small changes that you can sustain over the long term without sacrificing long term quality of life or enduring workouts so intense you have a hard time getting out of bed the next day.
Written by Mitchell Hooper