Are your health and fitness efforts sustainable?

It seems everywhere I look these days, there are mentions of sustainable this and sustainable that. Sustainable Farming, Sustainable Business Practices, and, most recently, Sustainable Thanksgiving. In these challenging economic times, using resources wisely has become an important part of our collective consciousness.

Sustainability is also key to health and wellness. After all, your time, energy and enthusiasm are valuable resources that can quickly be depleted if not used wisely. Take on too many or overly lofty goals and you may run out of  those resources before you reach your goals.

Unfortunately, most people are used to thinking about health and fitness in terms of specific short-term goals rather than long-term success. Losing 10 pounds in time for a big event or trip, or training for a race. Although the short-term goal was reached, the efforts to get there were not sustainable and thus the results don’t stick.

Diets, deprivation and other extreme methods don’t make us healthy or well. They fail because they aren’t sustainable. Completely eliminating foods or food groups is not sustainable for most of us. Nor is drastic calorie restriction, giving up your favorite foods, or exercising too strenuously too often. Eventually your energy, your willpower, or your body will give up.

Most of my clients have achieved fitness at some point in their life. Their challenge isn’t that they don’t know what to do. Their challenge is that they haven’t figured out how to fit their efforts consistently into their lives and sustain their results.  The techniques they used in the past–crash dieting, completely eliminating foods, or extreme exercise–aren’t sustainable. My job is to help them determine sustainable practices and behaviors, and then support them as they implement those practices into the lives. For the long haul.

True wellness requires efforts that can be sustained over a lifetime–finding exercise and eating strategies that fit our lifestyle and interests and don’t feel like torture. Setting more modest goals, recognizing that lasting change happens over time, and taking time to develop a plan (often through trial and error) that works is a much more reliable path to improved health and wellness.

Be sustainably well!