Hubby and I were cozy on the couch. I was scrolling Instagram while half-listening to the television while the sounds of his racing game emitted from his smartphone.
“What’s that noise?”
I freeze for a minute. “What? I don’t hear anything.”
“You don’t hear that?”
I tried listening harder over the TV, the rain hitting the windows from outside, the heater blower that has cycled back on, and Ollie dreaming about chasing squirrels (presumably) in the corner.
He jumps up with his super-human ears, flicks on all the lights and starts pulling up the mini blinds in the front windows.
“What are you doing?” I said, annoyed by the interruption.
“There’s a dripping sound.“
“You’re crazy. Sit back down and turn down the lights.”
“Ah-Ha” he proclaims, as he located the culprit.
I have no idea how he heard a drop inside a window over all the buzz in our house, but he did. There was a slow leak coming through the ceiling into the window frame that was dripping onto the window sill.
“Grab a towel.”
When I return with an old towel and a bucket, hubby was ripping out the soggy drywall from above the windows and tossing it into an old box.
“What are you doing?” I said, dismayed. My night went from peaceful to chaos in about five minutes flat.
“It’s damaged. It has to come out.“
“Can’t it wait? Five minutes ago we didn’t even know we had a problem.”
“No. It can’t. It’s only going to get worse. We have to fix it now.”
“Can’t we just put like….duct tape on it or something?”
Side eye from hubby. Ok, not funny.
“We can’t bandaid this problem. We have to fix it before it causes more damage.”
I tell you this story because it is often tempting to bandaid (or duct-tape) our problems. We can put a bucket under the leak, but it is still leaking. Maybe we can duct tape it (pretty sure that’s a terrible idea), but the leak is still there.
We could ignore it until it stops raining and hopes it doesn’t get any worse. We could ignore it until the ceiling caves. Or we can drill down to the root of the problem, repair and rebuild.
It was inconvenient to rip out soggy drywall at 9:30 pm on a Tuesday night. We called a professional roofer the next day who made repairs to the roof, installed new drywall, and our problem was solved. The solutions to our problems are sometimes inconvenient.
DO YOU HAVE A LEAK IN YOUR FITNESS?
Often in our fitness journey, we look for duct-tape solutions, What’s the easiest way we can temporarily stop this pain? What’s the quick fix to our problem? We look for shortcuts.
We first realize we have a problem: Maybe we woke up one day and had enough of the 30 lbs that seemed to creep on overnight. Maybe we are dealing with our fourth fitness-related injury of the year or finally got sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
Many people look for the duct tape solution, or they ignore the problem and hope it doesn’t get worse, and only deal with it when the ceiling caves in, like a trip to the emergency room. They only deal with the problem when the pain of staying the same becomes more than the pain of changing.
DUCT-TAPE SOLUTIONS TO YOUR FITNESS PROBLEMS
Duct tape solutions to your fitness problems include miracle-promising supplements, fad or restrictive diets, extreme workouts, and biohacking strategies without a foundation of a healthy lifestyle.
These are patches, not solutions, that may offer quick-yet-temporary results that aren’t sustainable or realistic for a permanent change. Duct tape solutions often start with empty promises from companies looking to make a dollar on your fitness insecurities.
Using fat-burning or carb-blocking supplements instead of improving your diet or eating fewer processed carbohydrates is a duct tape solution.
Attempting to freeze fat cells using coolsculpting instead of eating in a calorie deficit and exercising to lose fat is a duct tape solution.
Extremely calorie restrictive diets are a duct tape solution.
Dieting without addressing the reasons for emotional overeating is a duct tape solution.
Anything that promises fat loss without a balanced diet and exercise is a duct tape solution.
Extreme exercise to lose weight in a short period is a duct tape solution.
One of the most significant weight rebounds I ever experienced in my life was after finishing a popular 90 day “insane” exercise program. It was a 45 to 60 minute intense workouts six days a week for three months. I was so proud of myself for sticking it out for 90 days, but it didn't prepare me for day 91 or day 120. After such extreme workouts for three months, I needed a break, and with that break came a big weight rebound.
I would have been better served to go back the basics and build a healthy and sustainable workout practice that lasts my whole life, not just 90 days. It was a lesson I learned the hard way. Moderate exercise over longterm beats extreme exercise for a short while. If you have to white-knuckle your way through a program to get the “end,” it’s too extreme. There is no end of the program when exercise is a lifestyle. You always keep improving.
BUILD A FOUNDATION OF HEALTHY LIVING
I don’t mind planned use of healthy supplements, bio-hacking strategies, short calorie cuts or bouts of intense exercise as part as part of an overall strategy. You have to start with the foundation of healthy living and build from there.
How is your diet? Are you consuming unprocessed foods from nature prepared at home most of the time?
Are you moving your body in a way that you enjoy, that is sustainable, most days of the week?
Are you sleeping 7-8 hours per night?
Are you spending quality time with people who love, encourage, and support you?
Do you have a positive outlet to manage stress?
Do you spend some time outdoors?
Like with my roof leak, you have to drill down to the root of the problem, repair and rebuild. You might need help from a professional trainer, dietitian, mental health or other health care provider. There’s no shame in asking for help. A professional can often help you get faster results by providing a proven path to reach your goals.
DECORATE WITH SHORT-TERM STRATEGIES
Once you build the foundation, it’s appropriate to “decorate” with temporary strategies that fit into your long term plan. Supplements are like your holiday decorations; they’re not the whole house. Holiday decorations aren’t Christmas. They enhance the experience of the holidays, but they aren’t the purpose of it. It’s harder to have a happy holiday without a happy family (or friendships) first.
Once your foundation of healthy living is in place, then it is an excellent time to enhance your lifestyle with these extras, but just like holiday decorations, they are temporary and small part of your overall plans for celebration.
A calorie cutting phase can help you lose body fat when paired with a strategy to effectively come back to maintenance or muscle gaining phases.
A cycle of intense exercise (like for marathon training or fitness competitions) work when it is part of a larger overall approach, not a last-ditch effort to suffer through hard workouts to quickly lose weight.
When you’re eating well and exercising sensibly, supplements can help move the needle. A protein supplement can help fill in the gaps of whole food nutrition. Creatine can help build strength. Fish oil can benefit heart health. They are not the answer; they are… well…a supplement, hence the name.
Biohacking strategies are all the rage in the fitness industry. They have their place to enhance your already healthy lifestyle, not replace it.
Healthy living isn’t easy (and can often feel inconvenient in the beginning), but it’s simple. Spend time building the basic habits of a healthy lifestyle. Aim to eat in a way that is healthy and sustainable for your unique needs. Move your body in a way that feels good to you. Get some sleep. Be consistent…forever.
Are you duct taping your fitness problems? When you have a leak in your healthy lifestyle, drill down to the basics and repair from the ground up. It’s not the quick fix, but it’s effective.
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