Trying to pin down the perfect way to lose weight or get fit, and struggling to figure out the secret? High-fat low carb, low-fat high carb, pure calorie restriction, dozens of fad diets…cardio, strength training, HIITs, sports, group exercise. There are so many things to sort through and figure out that it can feel impossible to make your decisions, leaving you deep in the throes of choice paralysis. But you shouldn’t worry, because the secret to getting fit is that all of these work fine.
What matters more than finding the perfect diet, or the perfect exercise regimen, is maintaining the will to get fit and improve yourself. Fitness motivation consistently shows itself in study after study as the most crucial factor in determining how well a particular fitness strategy works out for participants. People on high fat and low fat diets lose almost the same amount when they restrict calories similarly—the only difference lays in what you can commit to long term, whether you can commit to a diet long term.
Motivation and Persistence Vs. The Perfect Diet and Exercise Regiment
The same holds true for improving your fitness with exercise. There are almost countless ways to improve your body, but unless you’re looking to compete at the elite level it simply doesn’t matter which you select—just that you exercise regularly, intensely, every single week. The most important factor for most of us then becomes ‘what exercise can we enjoy, or at least tolerate’ more so than ‘what exercise most efficiently cultivates a stronger body’.
Still not convinced? Consider these three factors:
1) The challenges remain the same. No matter which diet or exercise plan you stick with, you face roughly the same challenges. Instead of trying to find some secret ultimate plan that means you don’t have to struggle to avoid French fries or fight yourself to get into the gym three times a week, it’s far better to build up the focus and commitment necessary to do these things properly—you can always find fitness motivation and a way to do it easier once you’re already doing it right.
2) Quick now matters less with time. If you’re just looking to get thin or get moderately fit, then the specific exercise and diet you adhere to matters very little—because you shouldn’t be looking to get thin and fit in a hurry, then quit. You should be planning on staying the course of exercise and diet for a lifetime, because that’s what it takes. That means that it hardly matters whether you lose 2lbs a week or half a pound per week until you hit your proper weight, so long as you lose consistently until you heat that proper weight you’ll be fine.
3) We simply don’t know enough. We can’t pin down perfect diets and exercise with our current understanding of the body. We don’t even know 100% whether staple foods we’ve talked about as healthy for decades really belong in your diet or not. The best you can hope to do is find something that seems to work better for you, whether that’s because it’s tailored to your unique body composition and chemistry or because you find it easier to stick with than the alternative. That means you should of course experiment with diets and exercise, but in the meantime stay the course with whatever you can.
Ultimately, there are winners and losers in health and fitness. But following a bad path for a little while isn’t nearly as bad as sitting on your butt and eating junk food for another few months while you find a better one.