Make Your Time Count
When it comes to getting fit, how we spend our time matters.
Winter—the season of health and fitness resolutions—usually finds us making changes to our routines. Now that it's the tail end of the season, we may have shaken up our routines quite a bit in the quest to gain fitness. But how many of those changes make a true and lasting impact on our health? Unfortunately, we can unwittingly waste time doing things that, at best, offer minimal benefits or, at worst, actually prove counterproductive! Here’s a short list of the top “time wasting” tendencies we can all fall into sometimes:
• Fad Dieting: This is perhaps the number one time-waster on the list. Considered ineffective and sometimes even harmful by many reputable medical organizations, fad dieting pushes us into eating restrictively and rigidly, leading to short-term loss but usually rebound weight gain. Instead, make gradual, sustainable changes to eating habits.
• Negative Self-Talk: What we tell ourselves becomes the “reality” in which we must function. More & more frequently, science is linking mind & body. Perhaps our most strenuous “exercise” should be questioning the things we tell ourselves about ourselves—specifically, regarding our ability to succeed.
• Training in the “Wrong” Zone: Often we believe that more is better, especially when it comes to exercise intensity. But pushing too hard and/or too quickly in cardio and strength training can trigger injury, lead to undue fatigue, and, disappointingly, provide diminishing returns. Train smart to stay in for the long haul. (A personal trainer can help you design a plan specific to your fitness level.)
• “Surfing,” Not Sleeping: Evening screen time (TV, laptops, tablets, & phones) has been shown to disrupt the urge to sleep. If you must surf, at least use the “night shift” setting to filter out blue light. Cheating ourselves on rest undermines our ability to reach health & fitness goals.
• Too Much Cardio & No Strength Training: While it’s certainly not a waste to do cardio training, many people fail to include strength workouts as well. Like building aerobic endurance, increasing muscle mass benefits the body in many, many ways—from lowering bodyfat percentage to adding bone density. Investing time in strength training propels fitness forward.
• Repeating Patterns that Failed in the Past: If you’re making changes that you’ve tried before without lasting results, it may be time to re-think your strategy. We can waste months, even years, repeating ineffective attempts at fitness. Remember that our bodies and lifestyles change, depending on current circumstances—so find the habits that make sense today.