Sustainability is often defined as the capacity to endure. For humans, sustainability is the long-term maintenance of wellbeing. How do you more effectively accomplish sustainability in fitness and health?
When training for peak performance sustainability is of great importance to reaching the highest level of performance and health. Whether you are an Olympic Sprinter or just the average person we all encounter similar obstacles when it comes to sustainability. I recently consulted a competitive 100 meter sprinter about his training. He indicated that he was losing his motivation to train and was concerned about the impact on his future. He was recovering from injury and the clock was ticking and with each passing day his level of stress was increasing. This is common with many competitive athletes. Many are more driven by the fear of failure. You ask any successful athlete and most hate to lose.
The advice I gave him applies just as well to someone who is just trying to improve fitness and overall health. I suggested to him that he not allow himself to look so far ahead. I could see in our conversation he was already looking ahead over a year away as if he was in the blocks racing tomorrow. The anxiety was palpable. I suggested that he focus on what he could control in his training right now. Focus on getting the most out of his next training session measuring the outcome of the session. Did he get a great workout? Did he focus on the pure joy of being able to run fast? I asked him to focus on some goals that would be attainable in the training today. We discussed sustainability and how difficult it can be, even for the most motivated of athletes to sustain the discipline to train effectively. This is where a coach can really make a huge impact.
Most people are unable to sustain good diet and exercise for long periods because their perception of the effort creates an obstacle that is insurmountable. This perception is what creates an mental environment that will lead to failure. It also can allow the individual to easily find a reason to fail.
So if you want to sustain a healthy exercise and eating plan, do not create an environment that raises anxiety. Start with little steps and soon you are able to handle more. If you start attempting Everest on your first climb you may never climb again. In exercise, I call it post traumatic exercise syndrome. You expose yourself to an exercise and eating change that is so stressful no human will ever want to continue forward.
Focus on the outcome first and the goals second. Be in awe of what your body can do at any level and then slowly challenge yourself until the athlete or champion emerges. Get a great coach that can help when things get difficult.
Truth in Fitness,
Jacques DeVore, CSCS