Your Relationship with Diet and Exercise

How healthy is it?

By Tia Norris, February 2019 Issue.

Let’s face it: although everyone wants to have the perfect diet and exercise program, most people are either under-eating, under-exercising, or over-eating, or over-exercising. It is a difficult balance to strike, as the human body is a constantly moving target.

Everyone falls prey to one of the following imbalances at some point. It’s worth noting that there may be a psychological well of deep-seated motivations underneath each of these imbalances, that will require more than just figuratively flipping a switch to effect change. Keep that in mind. Read on to learn more about your blind spots and how to shine a light on what’s keeping you in the dark.

Under-eating

It surprises most people, but about 90% or more of my new clients fall into this category. Now, to achieve long-term physique change, eating more while still sitting on your ass, of course, will not work. That said, let’s assume you’re moving more and eating more — the increased calories will fuel better workouts, which will build more muscle and increase your metabolic rate, which is everything you want!

Why it’s so bad: Chronically starving your body of base nutrition, necessary for basic functioning, eventually is going to be very, very, bad. Chronic malnutrition will manifest at some point, often resulting in endocrine disorders, chronic injuries, sleep deficits, and cognitive deficits, to name a handful. Your body has basic nutritional needs for a reason — it needs those calories!

How to fix it: First, start tracking your food on a free app like MyFitnessPal. It helps to maintain an awareness of what you’re doing. Next, do not listen to the caloric recommendations it’s going to set for you — these are way too low! Third, I highly recommend consulting with a nutrition professional to figure out a plan to incrementally raise your calories back to your Total Daily Estimated Expenditure (TDEE) over time. Keep in mind this is the hardest move in my playbook. But, this is most likely the biggest thing holding people back from getting the body they want.

Under-exercising

At a minimum, people should be moderately active 3×30 minutes per week, being at least mildly active every single day.

Why it’s so bad: It should be common sense that being sedentary has an overwhelmingly long, frightening list of consequences. Your body is arguably the most priceless possession that you have. Ask someone who no longer has full vitality how valuable good health is. If you don’t use it, I can guarantee you will lose it. Invest now, or pay the consequences eventually — it’s a certainty.

How to fix it: Find something that you like. If you don’t like the gym, then don’t go. If you don’t like cardio, then don’t do it! Do something that gets your heart rate up, that incorporates resistance training of some kind, that you at least most of the time enjoy. And sorry, sex doesn’t count, and I don’t care how vigorously you think you’re doing it. And also, unless you’re somehow limited, simple walking probably won’t cut it either. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

Over-eating

Why it’s so bad: Eating more than what you burn each day (a caloric surplus) leads to weight gain; and while some weight gain is acceptable, excessive weight gain is essentially digging your own early grave, without exaggeration. Obesity has been linked to virtually every major health problem in our current times, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more. There is not a single fathomable benefit to chronic, excessive, over-eating.

How to fix it: Perhaps of all the imbalances on diet and exercise, over-eating may have the deepest psychological entanglements. Often, simply “eating less” is not as easy as it may seem. Of course, in the presence of an otherwise mentally healthy individual, and a lot of willpower, simply “eating less” works well. Assess yourself and your patterns/history with over-eating to decide if you can start the process on your own, or if you should work with a team of professionals (trainer, counselor, nutritionist to start) to start your journey.

Over-exercising

Type-A adrenaline junkies are very prone to overdoing it. High caliber athletes are also prone to over-training, in attempts to improve — this tends to happen often.

Why it’s so bad: Over-training has some serious long-term consequences. Athletes who over-do it will fry their adrenaline systems, will not recover as well, will experience chronic injuries, and may notice major disturbances in sleep, mood, daily functioning, relationships, and more. It’s serious!

How to fix it: This one also may have deep psychological roots tied to body image, using stress as a tool of avoidance, or lack of sense of self. The first step here, I’d say, is to hire a coach who can objectively say whether you’re doing enough or too much. Also, realizing that if by you doing more exercise that your body still isn’t changing the way you want it to, that the answer to your physique questions likely lies elsewhere.

Rule #1: Know thyself.

Rule #2: Do something about it. Realize where you’re undershooting or overshooting the marks and start your changes now before a health condition otherwise forces you to take action.