The MED and How to Effectively Use It
We all know the popular children’s book, The Tortoise and the Hare. While we also know who wins at the end of the story, at first, it seems the hare will be the logical easy winner. You might be wondering why I am talking about a children’s book in a fitness article, but let’s look into the story a bit more. The Hare, springing out the gate with ferocious speed and then later losing the race due to lack of focus, allows the tortoise to win on shear “one foot in front of the other” constant determination. The “slow and steady wins the race” pace.
This time of year there is an influx of new faces at pretty much every gym across the country. Dinner Plates are filled with mounds of dry, unseasoned chicken and uncooked raw broccoli with promises made to not bring a single piece of junk food home or do a single swing through any drive thru. There is a mindset in the air of “Enough is ENOUGH” Determination for a successful new year’s resolution… AGAIN. This picture is all too common and, unfortunately, no more realistic than it was last year… and the year before that.
Time and time again, treating the new year as if it were a starting shot at a race gate, millions of us sprint through the starting line up only to fizz out of: steam, breath, motivation and drive by lap 2.
Did you know the very definition of madness is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result? Why do what you have always done to achieve what you have always achieved. …err, or NOT achieved?
I want to talk to you about a strategy that isn’t new (I wish I were so revolutionary), but I believe is often overlooked-especially by the beginner or novice trainee.
We are going to call it the MED, or Minimum Effective Dose. Again, the phrase isn’t new and I didn’t coin it, but I am going to polish it off and give it a little awakening here.
The MED is very simple and a easy definition of it would be: doing the minimal amount of work to effectively facilitate a positive change in your current state of body, (this could go for your mind as well). Most of us tend to think we should jump into 4 spinning classes, 3 hot yoga’s and 3 metabolic boosting weight circuit workouts right out the gate of a new training regimen; coupling that with a 500 calorie a day restrictive diet of oatmeal, broccoli and chicken. This couldn’t be further from the truth… and let’s all face it, we ALL KNOW we won’t make it at that pace.
….Could there be another way?
Introducing the MED. Let’s try something NEW this year. Instead of spinning, yoga and weight training, why don’t you pick ONE activity that you think you are most likely to STICK to? Something you ENJOY (gasp… enjoy working out? Isn’t it supposed to be torturous?) Couple that ONE activity to ONE healthier option meal in a day, to START. That could mean something as simple as getting up an extra 10 minutes early and eating a balanced breakfast versus driving through a McDonalds Drive thru. Stick to that for a REALISITIC amount of time (maybe a few weeks). I am willing to bet you will start FEELING BETTER, LOOKING better and find yourself ready to tackle yet another addition to get you closer to your goal in your day. This is when you might try getting out of your box by adding one other type of activity to your week. An example could be something as simple as adding in a nightly walk after your dinner. Once that is in the bag, try then trading out one other not so healthy thing on your plate for something that is. Do you enjoy pop every afternoon? We all know that all that sugar wrecks havoc on your entire body system. Try switching it out for mint water a few days a week. Once that is mastered, go for every afternoon.
If you fall off the wagon and miss a class, drink a coke or hit a drive thru; the last thing to do is a hit the panic button and go off the deep end into a self-destructive depression filled with chocolate cake. Admit your mistake, to yourself and someone else if needed and MOVE ON. I know there have been many times I have decided to eat something that wasn’t the best choice, when the guilt hit me I always just remembered that my next opportunity to do it right, I WOULD do it and I would get right back on track. One bad meal won’t make you lose all your progress, taking an entire day or week, however… that is a different story. The longer you allow yourself to get away from your new found habits the harder it will be to return to them. Acting quickly and decisively is a must!
Don’t misinterpret my advice. Being excited and eager to get going and have a strong start to your fitness and health goals is great. What we are trying to avoid is potential burn out and fat loss/body re-composition plateaus . If you start going from zero hours of activity a week to 20 hours a week, manage to lose 5 pounds and then stall, where will you have to go from that point? Add in even more hours in the gym, restrict your diet even further? Or will you get frustrated and just give up because it is just too much? If we are honest with ourselves, which one is more likely to happen?
I train regularly, 5 days a week most weeks and I still only log, roughly, 10-12 hours WEEKLY working out.
It is more realistic and more obtainable to focus from going from zero hours a week to maybe 3 hours a week and then adding from there, The MED. I want nothing more than your ultimate success, and I know every one of you does as well!
Take a breath, map out a REALSTIC and goal oriented approach. WRITE OUT A PLAN, and GO FOR IT!
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