We are all different, different people with different lives. A lot of fitness regimes and diets are very generalised and may not apply to a lot of people. Even where these programs work they may not be optimal for you as an individual. This is why I would always advise against trying to emulate the workouts or lifestyle of anybody else. You can try it out but the chances are trying to do the same workouts as a professional athlete is going to leave you worn out and not in optimal health.
How are we different?
There are some major differences between us. Some big factors are your gender and age as well as lifestyle factors such as how much you sleep, how well you sleep, how many hours you work each week, whether your job is physical or where or not you are you stressed from work.Your genetics will also determine how well you respond to exercise and diet.
When it comes to exercise, your regime may be too stressful for your body or maybe not stressful enough to elicit any results. If you are getting older maybe you can no longer recover from 5 days of hard exercise a week and need to cut down to 4. If you are doing big compound movements and feeling fatigued maybe you need to add in more rest days or take weeks off to recover more. If you have an injury you will have to not workout that area of your body until it heals. There are an endless list of possibilities and you need to make sure your exercise is helping you achieve your goals and assisting in living a healthier life. Cookie cutter exercise regimes will only work for some people. Most people will benefit far more from a personalized regime that is altered over time.
The same is true of your diet. A food that is good for some can be bad for others. As a personal example, broccoli makes me feel terribly sick whenever I eat big amounts of it. Although it is universally known as a healthy food it is definitely not healthy for ME. If you are intolerant to any food it is worth removing it from your diet. The chronic inflammation caused by foods that do not agree with you is not worth the 5 minutes of taste.
As with exercise, a cookie cutter diet will never work. We all need different amounts of different things. We all need different caloric intakes for our bodyweight and goals to lose fat or gain weight. A healthy diet has many commonalities, but there are many very different examples of a healthy diet and they all come down to how it effects the individual.
How can you make a personalized approach to your health?
Track what you are doing
The only reliable way to ensure that you are making the progress that you want is to track yourself over time. Having a written record of your diet and exercise allows you to look back and see some objective measures. You may remember what you did last week but what were you doing a month ago or 6 months ago? A record of your progress enables you to see what works for you and what doesn’t work for you as an individual
Tracking your exercise will help you to look back and see how much you have done and if you are progressing. This will help you to make adjustments based on your results. To record your exercise regime have a simple excel spreadsheet or diary. On this spreadsheet have some horizontal headings with Date, Exercise, Sets, Reps, Weight, Rest between sets, Notes, Tempo, Comments. This is very basic and gives you all the information you will need to look back on. You can add in any extra headings that you feel are suitable.
Tracking your diet is very important if weight loss or weight gain is desired. It is also important if you suffer from any sort of food allergy or are regularly feeling unwell from foods. Keeping a record of your diet is not very difficult and will take you at most 5 minutes a day. I would recommend a digital copy as it’s easier to backup and revise later on. As with the exercise template, I use excel with the headings Date, Time, Food, Amount, Location, How you felt, Bodyweight (measured weekly or fortnightly), Comments. Fill this in every day with an accurate record of your food intake.
You can also track other lifestyle measures like sleep, supplement intake, how long you meditated, what time you went to sleep and woke up, how you felt mentally throughout the day the list goes on. I would advise everybody at least track exercise and diet measures. If you want to track these other things it depends on how important they are to you and your goals.
These can all be tracked in one big spreadsheet or in a diary. The important part is that you make the habit of tracking what you are doing. It may seem like an effort at first but it is very easy and is very beneficial. It is also very rewarding to be able to look back and see just how much exercise you did or how well you kept to eating well over time.
Make changes when needed
Now you have the tracking in place you need to use this information in order to make the necessary changes over time to improve your health and wellbeing. If you are progressing well towards your goals then you will not have to make any changes. If you take a look at your progress and feel you are not where you thought you would be you will need to change things up.
Making changes is all about looking at where you are and how you got there. Let’s say for example you are trying to lose weight. You take a look at your diet review and find that you are eating 2300 calories per day on average. Your weight has not changed for a month. This indicates that you need to reduce your calories somewhat, 500 or so should do. So now for the next month eat 1700 calories each day and track your progress. You should find that your weight loss continues. If it does not then you need to re-evaluate again and determine what is wrong and how it can be fixed.
If you have been keeping a record of your diet and you find you are regularly feeling nauseous or unwell after eating then look through the diet review and the comments. If you have been commenting about when you feel sick maybe you can pick out a trend. For example, let’s say every time you eat bread you feel sick. Perhaps you are intolerant to wheat and eliminating it for some time and tracking how you feel will help to determine if this is the case. This can be done with any sort of food intolerance. If you are having continued problems then contact a nutritionist. In the case that you do need to see one your accurate food diary will be very beneficial to them when trying to help you.
An example for exercise. You look at your exercise diary and find that you have not increased your strength in 2 months. You are doing the same thing every week and trying to increase your deadlift. You are doing 8 sets of your heaviest deadlifts every single week as well as many other workouts. You are probably taxing your central nervous system too much and need more rest. Take a week or two off and come back to it fresh and see how you progress.
These are basic examples but they all illustrate the importance of tracking your progress in order to be able to make proper changes to improve your health and fitness. If you need any further personal assistance with your exercise or diet regime then contact me here.
Health and fitness changes should never be made to try and be trendy. They should always fit you and your lifestyle and be altered to improve it over time. Think about where you are currently with your health and fitness and then think about what you could change to make it better! Health always will be about doing the best with the body that YOU have. Always strive to do the best you can with the circumstances you have.
Do you keep track of your workouts or diet?
Have you made any recent changes to improve your health that go against the grain?