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Recommended Daily Allowance

"OMG!  I just started this new death bootcamp where you run in circles while they shoot at you with real bullets and I started their diet where you only eat spiders and kale and I lost 45 lbs of fat and am in the best shape of my life!  You've got to try this!"

Maybe this sounds familiar to you.  Not word for word of course, but we all have that friend (or have been that friend) who drastically changes something in their life and believes their new path is the one true way to good health and salvation from going up a pant size every year.  And we listen, sometimes amused, sometimes amazed, and sometimes we try it out for ourselves.

What the above quote actually translates to is usually something more like this:

"OMG!  I finally started exercising for an hour 5 days a week and started paying attention to my diet!  I didn't realize that eating crap and  not exercising would make me gain 45 lbs over the last five years and feel like a garbage can!"

But somehow, that doesn't sound as cool.

"Just do work" never sounds cool, but it works.  

As a trainer and coach, I encounter a lot of people trying to change something in their lives.  Sometimes its weight loss, sometimes its to improve quality of life, sometimes its trying out a new sport or physical challenge.  A lot of these folks come in excited and ready to do whatever it takes to make that new goal a reality.  My job starts with explaining to them exactly what that reality looks like.  And once they get started, I spend weeks and months constantly debunking every new fad or fashion they read about on the internet and want to try each week because its got to be better than this.  Its not.  There is simply no substitute for work over time.  As time passes and they make the lifestyle changes and do the work, they not only achieve their goals, but fly right past them.

So, why do individuals have such a hard time making positive changes in their lives?

Change is hard.  It requires time, patience, and hard work.  Most of all, it requires motivation.  Motivation is tricky because it can be hard to eat healthier and exercise more, especially if you'd rather eat donuts and sit on the couch (one of my hobbies).  If you currently consider your diet and/or fitness regimen to be sorely lacking, one way to approach this problem rather than joining the live ammo bootcamp and starting the kale and spiders diet is to approach this the same way we approach basic nutrition needs.  You need to figure out your Recommended Daily Allowance.

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is a concept that we mostly relate to the nutrition label on our vitamins, but its a useful concept to use in our quest for health and fitness.  Instead of trying to do it all, as hard as possible, think about what you actually need.  In other words, what is your RDA for food, sleep, exercise, and play?  And are you meeting those basic levels?

To get started, answer these questions if you can, and if you can't, find a qualified professional to help you. 

  1. Are you getting enough sleep?  (This depends on age and activity level, but 8 hours a night is a good place to start. ) 
  2. Are you getting the proper balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates?  (If you don't know, start tracking.)
  3. Are you eating a diet rich in vitamins and minerals, fresh fruits and vegetables?
  4. Are you finding ways to reduce stress and get along with your family and coworkers?  
  5. Are you receiving regular medical care?  When was your last physical?
  6. Are you getting enough exercise?  Strength training as well as cardiovascular exercise is necessary for everyone, especially as we age, but it doesn't have to be complicated or require a lot of equipment.

If you answer no to any of these questions, how much change is necessary to start heading in the right direction?  It might require a 6 days a week bootcamp and a strict diet, but why go there if it only requires adding in a daily walk and eating more protein?  Small changes over time are easier to maintain than big sudden changes.  More importantly, maintaining those changes over time is what results in long-term success. 

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to address these issues on a more in depth and detailed basis with some actual practical advice.  Stay tuned!  

“Dripping water hollows out stone, not through force but through persistence.” ― Ovid


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