Build a Bridge
On our recent family trip to Mackinac the engineering marvel of the bridge really struck me. When faced with the dilemma of getting from the lower to the upper peninsula you would have had 3 choices prior to the bridge. Swim across, take a boat, or drive through Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin. With over 100 drowning deaths in the great lakes each year swimming would not be a great option. Likewise there have been roughly 6,000 ship wrecks on the great lakes, including some 30,000 lives. Contrast that with a total of only 1 car (to date) going off the bridge. The bridge took nearly 3 years to build and cost around 100 million dollars. The bridge itself now safely allows hundreds of thousands of vehicles to pass across it each month. So what's the point? A good fitness or nutrition plan is like building a bridge. You can just jump in and hope to "swim" to your destination. This involves no planning. No consideration for lifestyle, motivation for goals, or what your even going to do when you get there. No assessment process to go over health considerations, movement restrictions injuries, etc. You just hope for the best. You make good progress early on for the first 1-6 months, but eventually you just can't keep up. Your diet is just too restrictive and unsustainable, or you get hurt and don't want to try to work around the injury. You just give up and become another statistic. Taking a ship across is a safer bet. This requires a bit more planning though. Ship schedule, get your ticket, make sure weather isn't too severe. You're tied in to the ships schedule to get to or from the upper/lower peninsula. This is the person who looks up a meal plan or workout template from online or a health magazine. These plans probably work well for about 70-80% of the population, those who are self motivated/disciplined. If something happens to the plan though (say all gyms being shut down for 5+ months) everything goes out the window though as you don't have any real habits or principles to follow. Initially (prior to the bridge being built) this would have been the best combination of safety and time efficiency. The trip across would still take 25+ minutes though. Contrast these options with the foresight and planning of building the bridge. A huge investment of time and resources. Yet when the finished product is there you can safely and efficiently travel back and forth at your leisure in under 10 minutes. This is sitting/or chatting with a skilled fitness professional. Someone who does this for a living, not a side job/hobby. Filling out a detailed health history, goals, training schedule, lifestyle factors, etc. Understanding that there are not quick fixes or results, and that the process can't be rushed. The trade off for your early investment of patience (time) and resources (money, as hiring a professional for the long haul isn't going to be cheapest option) is that your odds of success are virtually guaranteed. Once you get there you will have all the tools you need to come and go as you please with the confidence that you have all you need. If your nutrition approach is based off a list of foods you can't eat, or your training plan is comprised of random workouts of the day, or doesn't look out beyond the next 2-3 weeks you may want to reevaluate your approach.