One evening this weekend I was walking the dog and I noticed two little boys – maybe 10 or 12 years old – playing in the park. They were playing a game that I remember playing when I was young. One boy would run between two landmarks, and the other boy would count how many seconds it took. Then they would switch places, the counting boy would run and the running boy would count. They ran between two trees, between the tree and a stop sign, between a stop sign and a lamp post. It was really cute and it was clear they were having a ton of fun.
What does this have to do with you? We adults tend to over-complicate this thing we refer to as exercise. And we really over-complicate this thing we call nutrition. So here’s a little guide to un-complicate things going forward.
Intervals: People stress about intervals – how long the effort should be and how long the rest should be. We stress about what exercise is best performed while doing intervals. Heck, I’ve had people ask me at what PERCENTAGE of effort they should perform their intervals. Here’s my answer: unless you’re an Olympic-level athlete, just DO THEM and don’t sweat the small stuff. What exercise? Take your pick: running, squats, cycling (or spinning), pushups, whatever. How long? Go as hard as you can as long as you can. If you’re really going as hard as you can, it won’t last long. How much rest? Not too much.
Sports wear: The little boys in the park were wearing cotton shirts, shorts, one was wearing flip-flops and the other was wearing inexpensive-looking runners. They seemed to be doing fine exercising without specialized clothing and shoes. It’s true that wicking fabrics and seam-free stitching can make long bouts of exercise more comfortable. But for Pete’s sake please remember that in the 70′s everyone just exercised in cotton and wore flat shoes. So if you don’t have the “appropriate gear”, don’t let that stop you from working out. Just put on something comfy and GO.
Nutrition: By far, I get asked what to eat before and after a workout more often than any other question. Let’s have a guess at what the boys in the park had to eat before and after their “workout”. It was about 9pm when I saw them so I bet they had this thing called “dinner” around 3-4 hours before exercise. They didn’t seem to be carrying anything in terms of gels, sports drink, or even water during their workout. When they got home, I suspect they either just went to bed without a post-workout recovery meal, or perhaps their mom let them have a fruit. So really people, unless you’re an elite athlete stop stressing about pre- and post-workout nutrition. This craze started in the body building industry but since most of my readers are not into body building, just eat when you’re hungry and don’t eat when you’re not. Eat lots of vegetables, some fruit, make sure you get protein and healthy fats with each meal. Skip snacks and desserts. Easy peasy.
Workouts: It’s time to take a hint from those boys I saw in the park and start seeing your workouts as play breaks. So many people see their workouts as a chore. Do you like chores? I don’t. It’s time to have some fun while you’re working out. Burpees? FUN! Squats? FUN! Mountain climbers? SO MUCH EFFING FUN. Choose your attitude.