There are many methods for eating and exercising, all of which may seem daunting when attempting to determine which ones work best. For every person who believes that keto is the greatest and only way to eat, someone will proclaim that being vegetarian or vegan is the true path to the pinnacle of health.
The truth is, there are many ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle. If you are someone who believes that a single way is the only way, then I would be willing to bet you that for every piece of research you have found that substantiates your way of living as the prime methodology, there are equal amounts of research that support most other lifestyles; whether they be paleo, ketogenic, vegan, vegetarian, carnivorous, etc.
When pursuing a healthier lifestyle, we must find what works for us, provides us with pleasure, and is sustainable. What we put into our bodies is a big deal because it sustains us, and in many respects, it controls how we feel, think, look, and sometimes how we even act.
Regardless of what you believe to be the correct way of eating or exercising, there are some fundamental steps that we must all take before tailoring our fitness and nutrition regimens, so follow these three steps to identify what you need to know to begin to live a better and healthier lifestyle.
STEP 1: KNOW YOURSELF
It might sound a bit cliche, but if we don't know ourselves, we can't formulate goals that work best for us, and therefore, we cannot continue to grow and adapt our methods for fitness and nutrition. When I say "know yourself," I mean know what's important to and for you. If you like eating meat and do not want to give it up, dedicate your time and research to determine which meats are the better protein sources for achieving your goals.
Speaking of goals, identify what they are! If you want to gain muscle and look more like Dwayne Johnson or Terry Cruise and less like Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, then take the necessary measures and have a plan to gain access to equipment and weights that can help to provide you with the required load to train your body so that your muscles can grow and become stronger. Be willing to consume some protein and learn how your body reacts to these controls you're now implementing (of course, consult your physician before doing anything drastic).
We won't know what we like or what works best for us overnight. Be prepared to learn during this process of "figuring-out-what-works-best" and anticipate frustrations. You may very well find out that being the most muscular guy on the block wasn't as important to you as you initially thought, and as time progresses, you instead valued a leaner and more balanced physique.
One way isn't better than the other; treat your body with respect and provide it with the nutrients it needs to be adequately nourished. The details don't matter whether you derive those nutrients from animal or plant proteins so long as the quality of sustenance or plant proteins is relatively high.
Of course, too much of anything is never good, so try not to limit yourself to red meat and pork (for example). Mix it with some quality fish, white meat, and plant-based proteins. Variety is always good for more than a few reasons, and your body will thank you for it in the long run.
Perhaps you're lactose intolerant. Sure, milk has calcium, but excellent research will point you toward calcium-rich vegetables and additional alternatives if you react badly. There is a whole world with foods we might not have ever known existed. So, relish finding new passions and cuisines; it's a beautiful process.
STEP 2: KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS
Nobody wants to hear that they CAN'T do something, but the world isn't always so forgiving. Sometimes, we just aren't meant to do something. In extreme cases, we lack the physical ability to process certain foods (i.e., an allergy) or perform specific physical tasks. But that doesn't bar us from having goals, hopes, and dreams in life; it just means that we might have to alter our pathway to fulfilling them and maybe even change what our plans were in the first place.
We must eventually accept our limitations and embrace their existence. Only then can we realistically manage our expectations. In life, everyone has limits of some kind, some more glaring than others. Don't ever compare yours to another person's because, as Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "comparison is the thief of joy." Don't rob yourself of happiness; roll with the punches and find ways to solve your problems.
We can start to think more innovative by doing more with less. My workout playlists found on this site are an example of this idea.
I get it; I've been there... but as one of my closest friends from college once told me while we were both under the sea on a nuclear submarine (yes, an exciting experience, that one), "if something means enough to you, you'll find a way to do it."
The point is to find a way to solve your problems. Know your limitations and what's possible for yourself, but don't make excuses for not doing something in life because we miss all the shots we never take, and that's no way to live.
So if you don't have time, money, or equipment, then focus on what you do have: solid ground, your body weight, and the desire to put yourself through the requisite work and nutritionary requirements that are commensurate with fulfilling your goals and/or living a healthier lifestyle. Because just as my friend said, if it's important to you, you'll find a way; heck, people without legs, arms, or any of their appendages have figured it out, so if they can, why not us?
Know your limitations, but don't use them as excuses not to have the life you want. Take control of your body and your health, and get it done. I will personally help you as best I can.
STEP 3: KNOW WHAT'S SUSTAINABLE (AND WHAT ISN'T)
You may have heard this fitness advice before; "find something sustainable." It's good advice on its own, but something that I have learned is that a lot of self-proclaimed fitness gurus are so caught up with giving you advice simply for the sake of doing so that they don't often consider if the recommendations that they're giving people are even suitable for them at specific moments in time.
Simply put, good advice at the wrong time becomes bad advice. This is why many people never truly fulfill their fitness goals even though they have invested time and money into programs, memberships, and trainers.
When we find a sustainable plan that works well, only after knowing ourselves and our limitations can we effectively determine a plan that will work for us and not against us. This applies to both fitness and nutrition.
Someone who you deem to be a reputable source might tell you that avocados are a super-food and one of the best sources of fats you can consume; I mean, look at all the research behind how amazing avocados are. Look at all the beautiful people in Hollywood who eat them during various daily meals. You see them in all the Gym & Fridge episodes Men's Health uploads on YouTube. Look at Lenny Kravitz; he's over 50-years old and looks like he's in his 30s! We want to look as good as him, just in our 20s. We may even be willing to work hard and do things we don't enjoy because we WANT it. After all, our hearts are in it.
Look... if you don't like avocados, then DON'T eat them! Sure, they're great for you, but stop doing things Lenny Kravitz's way and start doing them YOUR WAY (nothing against Lenny, of course, the man looks incredible). So long as it works and isn't harmful to your body, swap avocados out for nuts or rich fatty meats like fresh salmon.
Find the foods and recipes you genuinely enjoy, and don't be afraid to get creative. Be smart about your choices and have a plan. After all, you are aware of yourself and know your limitations (because you read this article before developing your strategy and taking action). Because of that fact, you can build and adopt a lifestyle that you enjoy, and that is... say it with me, "sustainable."
You can have chocolate once or even a few times a week; heck, I have met people in incredible shape who consume chocolate daily! They're intentional about it and weigh their options carefully, considering everything that goes into their body. After a while, this routine they have constructed becomes something they fall into each day. You can do this too!
Sure, it takes time, but when we find sustainable plans that we enjoy and can stick to, we fulfill our goals and are happier. Don't deny yourself the things you love outright; instead, find ways to incorporate them into your life (as long as they are healthy), whether in moderation or in an alternate controlled manner. So long as it doesn't negatively affect your health and you can achieve the desired results, try to crack the code and figure it out yourself.
The same can be said for exercising. If you hate to run, then DON'T RUN. Numerous other ways to elevate your heart rate and burn calories include cycling, rowing, walking, hiking, lifting weights faster, jumping rope, etc.
Again, the better we can formulate plans to stick to, the better we will achieve our goals. This is as true for fitness and nutrition as for any facet of life.
FIGURE OUT YOUR WAY AND FOLLOW THROUGH
Poor planning makes for poor performance and execution. If you don't have a plan for your nutrition and exercise regimens, you will find it quite challenging to achieve success. If you feel better consulting a professional, use this information to articulate what is important to you. This will better enable them to serve your needs in an ideal manner.