#35: Overdoing It

Be consistent without overdoing it—or it will not last.

I’m not a fan of deprivation. So if you ask me what I think about your “grapefruit cleanse,” I’ll probably tell you what I think, and it won’t be, “Well, get to it!”

Have you ever tried to go without sugar for a week? Alcohol for a month? Meat for a day? Then you likely know that for that sugar-free week your mind was racing….and all it was thinking about was the jar of Hershey’s kisses on your co-worker’s desk. Deprivation doesn’t work. It makes you crazy in the head until you break down and eat not just one Hershey’s kiss, but half the jar. If you had rather taken just one candy for after lunch each afternoon, you would have been satisfied of your sugar craving, and would have moved on to the rest of your day just 26 calories heavier, rather than the embarrassing number of calories heavier you are now that you ate seven kisses without taking a breath.

Deprivation isn’t the answer. So it might not come as a surprise to you now when I say—in terms of exercise—do it in moderation. You are excited now. It’s a new year, your year—am I right?—and you want to hit the treadmill with a vengeance. That is fantastic. But my advice is to be consistent without overdoing it—or it will not last. Try 45 minutes of exercise three or four times a week if you’re starting from zero. Your body will be delighted, I promise, and you can ramp up later if all is going well. But start out with five or six days a week, and you might not make it till March. Please—if you’re loving your new classes at the gym and can’t wait to get there, by all means, go. But give yourself a break if you just don’t feel like it on the third day. Push yourself to go on the fourth, and you’ll feel great all over again. Start slow and allow the new lifestyle to catch on.

With a few exceptions, too much of anything is bad for you, and can even counteract the good it would do for you if you did it or consumed it in moderation (sleep, wine). So get out there and exercise, and eat a new and improved diet, but don’t go overboard. You’ll end up being referred to as a “New Year’s resolution person,” and you don’t want that.