Unsustainable vs. Sustainable Fitness

written by Jourdain Wehunt

Unsustainable fitness is what you are accustomed to seeing in magazines, on TV, and all over social media. It consumes your life and thoughts, and if you don’t complete your workouts, you feel like a failure. The only goal is to get you to your fitness goals (weight loss, etc.) quickly without considering your health, stress, or other factors. You are motivated solely by your results and currently hate how you look.

Unsustainable fitness workouts look like workouts that beat you up physically and mentally each day; you must be psyched up before doing them. After a week or more, you feel tired, achy, and depleted and wonder how people can even like exercise. You might initially lose weight or see much progress very quickly, so you “feel” like it is working. But progress stops as soon as it starts; you reach a plateau very fast and feel like you want to throw in the towel. This creates a yo-yo cycle with exercise. You are either motivated and on the wagon or completely off track and feel defeated.

If this is you, know that this is not your fault; fitness marketing has done you a disservice. Most of the world is on this yo-yo fitness cycle and can’t get out of it.

On the flip side, sustainable fitness is an exercise routine that supports you and your whole wellness spectrum instead of taking away from your time, energy, and life. It is not the end all be all. It is not more important than time with your family and friends and other weekly tasks. It supports you and your body as you change, age, and go about your life. This type of fitness celebrates what your body CAN do instead of hating what it isn’t. It makes you feel strong, able, and confident and helps you live a life where you can move around easily and feel great during and after your workouts. It looks like meeting your body and mind where it is at every day and doing the minimum dose of fitness to progress toward your goals. You are consistent with your routine because it adds to your life, and results naturally follow.

How to begin?
1.) Throw out any part of your current plan or workout routine that leaves you feeling drained and defeated. Begin to add in things that you enjoy. Do you like to dance, ski, walk or jog? Add items into your routine that you love to do to keep you coming back to it. Don’t like to work out at all? Try out some new classes and types of fitness. Check out ours here.
2.) Develop a routine that you can do even on your worst days. We tend to get super motivated by working out when we first get back into it and are on a motivation high. We mess up by creating a routine during this time that is unsustainable for months/years. This leads to the yo-yo approach to exercise when you are disappointed with yourself for not hitting your lofty goals and quitting. Ideally, your workout or movement practice should be something you can do even when you have a bad day and life feels like it is against you. A workout you could do from home without equipment or requires little motivation or caffeine to get started with it. This looks like aiming for a smaller exercise goal, to begin with, building your capacity over time. For most, I suggest starting with two days a week at the gym/at home and adding in daily leisurely walks. After a month of doing a routine like this, you might find you are ready for more, and I would add one more workout and slowly work up to more over the months. This will help you create a sustainable routine for yourself and your life. Do not compare yourself to the person you see online. Your training will be unique to you, which is a good thing!
3.) Outline your goals with a fresh mindset. Say your goal is to lose 20 lbs.; why do you want to lose 20 lbs.? Is this number a weight you feel your best at, or is it a number that society expects you to be? We want our goals to be only for us and have nothing to do with what anyone else (your family, culture, etc.) wants for our bodies. We want our goals to be from self-love, so refer to your body gratefully and positively. Such as, I want to lose 20 lbs. sustainably so I can feel confident and help reduce my risk for chronic disease. Write out these goals with short-term, medium, and longer-term milestones and steps. For example, if my goal were to lose 20lbs, I would start with three strength-based workouts every week for a short-term goal; I would aim for a reduction of .5-1 pound lost per week, so a medium goal of 2-5 lbs. per month and long term I would hope for 10 lbs. lost at the end of 4-5 months.
4.) Address your whole spectrum of health. If you are currently struggling with other health issues, the last thing you should be doing is prioritizing weight loss and strenuous exercise. Our fitness goals are the easiest to hit and most sustainable when we are healthy. So, shift your perspective to exercising and eating to better your total health. Improving your whole wellness spectrum will help you feel and look great in the process. Don’t know where to start improving these? Book a call here.
5.) Tackle your bodily aches and pains to keep you mobile, fit and active for life. It is one thing to work out to lose weight, but it is another thing to work out to keep you mobile for life. Do you have aches and pains that flare up that make you take a break from your goals? It is time to assess your mobility and develop a plan to help you progress and move how you want to for life.
6.) Include strength training (at least once weekly) into your routine. Strength Training includes exercises that are performed to gain strength. When we prioritize strength training, we prioritize building muscle
and giving our bodies time to recover between exercises. We want to do this, especially as women, because muscle tissue helps us keep our metabolism up and active, increases calories burned at rest, keep our bones strong, and gives us the strength and stamina to do everything we need to do during our day.

Building muscle, aka “toning,” is what will enable you to look healthy and be strong and fit for life.

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