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Fitness and exercise. Love it or loathe it?
Exercise is important, but it's not everything.
If you find yourself at the beginning of your health journey - standing at the base of the mountain and petrified of the long journey ahead, then I wouldn't recommend using exercise as the first step.
Nutrition is the key. Especially at the start.
Once you improve your metabolism, more often than not the motivation and ability to exercise will begin to seep into your life.
More can be achieved quicker through proper nutrition than by simply beating yourself up in the gym or on the pavement.
Granted, I'm a fitness addict. Ever since I secretly started doing push-ups in my bedroom every night, religiously, at the age of 12 I've been completely hooked. (I turned those prepubescent man boobs [I grew up on soy milk and McDonald's] into pecs, slowly but surely!)
I've been through the gamut of training methods - bodybuilding, high intensity training, high level individual and team sports at the junior and amateur level, road cycling, CrossFit, olympic lifting, yoga... heck, I even won the award in the Australian Army Reserves bootcamp for best at PT in my platoon!
I appreciate that, like kimchi, golf or London, not everyone loves exercise nor should they! Yet I think exercise is an acquired taste - so to speak - and when you find something that works for you, enjoyment follows.
To poorly paraphrase a quote I once heard from an old-school personal trainer - everything works, for a while, until it doesn't work anymore.
This is so true.
You can see great results doing just about anything when you first start exercising. Unfortunately the incredible adaptive ability of the human body means that you have to keep adding either more or different stressors to the body in order to continue progressing.
The not-so-smart way to do this is just to increase volume at all costs. Works well for professional athletes (although even they have their limit) but not so well for us lay people who have other stresses in our lives besides training.
I think for non-athletes the best way to optimise your fitness without overtraining is to do smart, varied training - mixing up low-volume high-intensity work (sprints/explosive training/heavy weights, etc) with high-volume low-intensity movement (walking, commuter cycling, hiking, etc).
Then if possible throw in some other forms of activity (or sport) that are enjoyable to you. Personally I like commuter cycling, yoga, basic gymnastics, body surfing, tennis and frisbee to name but a few.
Anything that works on flexibility, co-ordination, mobility, agility and balance is ideal because you often don't get to improve these important aspects of fitness by doing standard (prescribed) gym workouts or "chronic cardio".
I have my criticisms of CrossFit now, having moved on after being slightly obsessed with it for a period of time. However, I do respect CrossFit's intention to improve the '10 elements of fitness' by structuring their programming in an 'unstructured' way. Randomness is definitely a good thing when it comes to training.
Fitness will always be a huge part of my life. I love activity and loathe inactivity. However, the focus of The Paleo Model will remain nutrition, with a few fitness articles thrown in for good measure
This is in line with my underlying belief that achieving optimal body composition is roughly 70 percent diet, 20 percent exercise and 10 percent genetics.
Check out My Diet Versus Exercise Analogy and tell me if you disagree...
ARTICLES ON FITNESS:
CrossFit is awesome and I loved it. Here's why I quit and don't recommend it for most people
How To Build Muscle, Honestly and Healthily
The Big Three Weight Loss Myths: # 2 - Do Cardio to Burn Fat