Summer time is the time of year when we typically want to look our best. Let’s face it, despite the fact that we live in a world that is openly less critical of body types and encourages us to see each other for what we do and how we treat others, the fact holds for many of us that we remain self-conscious of how we look in a bathing suit. Call it human nature. It is just a simple truth. I’m not going to go off on how society & media feed us the messages they want us to believe; they do. However, we don’t need to listen, either. Like anything else, we must filter information and make educated decisions when determining an opinion of ANY matter
When we think about the phrase, “Get in shape”, we typically first think of having a ‘six pack’. That is something that is essentially a part of the hard wiring of many of us. However, it is certainly not a scientific gage to how healthy we really are. We all know of many people who have been stricken with diseases or even died, that have been in ‘great shape’. So why do we still think that we are only as healthy as we appear in the mirror or by the number on a scale? This is a question that involves many components to answer. Similar to pain, it involves the ‘Bio-Psycho-Social’ model of understanding. In other words, there is no simple answer that we all can rally around.
This leaves us in a precarious space when we determine what it means to get in shape; it depends on each individual. However, there ARE certain components that are universal in achieving true health when striving to ‘get in shape’. Beyond the obvious resolution of ‘I need to exercise more’, there is so much more to be addressed in order to achieve such a vague goal. In order to truly accomplish a sustainable healthy lifestyle moving forward, we must incorporate a routine into our daily lives that is sustainable over the long term; decades, not month or even a year. Anyone can lose weight in order to hit a target on the scale. Many attempt to do this by some sort of fad diet, only to hit their target and fall right back into the same trappings that started this journey.
The best and only way to make long term sustainable changes in your health is to do so in a manner that doesn’t alter your life in a way that is unsustainable. We must take a well-rounded approach to our health if we truly want to not only get in shape but also to stay in shape. Where most of fail is in the area of food intake (notice that I didn’t say diet). Losing body fat and building lean muscle require MUCH more than exercise. I could even argue that you can achieve your materialistic ideals of in shape without any exercise, if you simply ate better foods. The issue is that most people “diet”. This means following some new means of eating in order to lose lbs. on the scale, only to attain the goal and slip back into your old (easily sustainable) bad habits of eating. Instead of dieting, consider this simple mantra; ‘Calories in vs. Calories out’.
Here is an example of a caloric calculator to determine your needs in order to maintain or lose weight. As you can see, once you account for the amount of weekly physical activity you do, you can than determine how many calories you need to either maintain your current weight or gain/lose weight, depending upon your goals. It’s that simple. Calculate Your Calories Here
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This is only one component of your goal to get in shape and stay in shape for a prolonged period of time. We must also address the psycho-social model of true wellness in order to truly get in shape. Anyone can starve themselves to lose weight, but that is not realistic and has proven to be unhealthy and taxing on your body systems. Of course, the quality of ‘calories in’ will be an even stronger factor in overall health, but a calorie is a calorie regardless of whether it comes from a Big Mac or an apple. The real question is, can you sustain this caloric intake over the long haul? Rest assured that if you follow the simple rule of calories in vs. calories out, you will not only start to get in shape, you may even start to see your abs without ever doing a single sit-up.