The Counter-Intuitive Nature of Time-Efficient Wellness.
In a perfect world, I wouldn’t miss a day of training. I wouldn’t eat a sub-par meal or get a less-than stellar amount of sleep. I’d never get injured, sick, or fatigued.
Hell, I wouldn’t get demotivated either.
Unfortunately, I don’t live in a perfect world, and there are a million other things going on in my life that take away from my ideal wellness plan. Or what I perceive to be ideal.
It might be my personality, it might be my innate human need for a more perfect existence, or it might just be the result of a mild fixation on my wellness. Either way, my perception of ideal is what kills me in the long run.
Over the summer I had the opportunity to achieve that goal of an almost-perfect wellness situation. I had 3+ hours devoted to training, at least an hour per meal to do food prep, and access to my own room for a perfect sleeping situation. Yet, I didn’t make any of the major wellness gains I had hoped. It wasn’t until I went to college, experienced more stress, and had less time that I found the most sustainable approach to my personal wellness.
As a current student, I spend less time cooking, less time working out, and less time sleeping (I need to fix this part), yet have been able to maintain my current level of fitness. You could say that I was quite puzzled by this result.
And then it hit me, I’ve become more effective in the use of my time.
I made a post back in August talking about this idea of time efficiency, and it seems that I was correct in concluding that less time would actually mean better results. With reduced time, I don’t mess around in getting to the core parts of a workout. Mindless, daily, 2+ hour rides have become regular 60–70 minute tempos with maybe 1–2 90 minute rides a week. Having a meal plan has allowed me to eat a wide range of fruits and veggies and keep my caloric intake where it needs to be. I’m now more efficient with my daily responsibilities, leaving me with more sleep than before. It’s counter-intuitive, but it works.
This is the goal of sustainable wellness. I waste less and do more.
So what’s the disconnect?
I think there’s this ideal present in fitness/wellness culture that promotes extreme amounts of exercise in order to be healthy. As someone who spent 2 hours a day cycling during the summer, I can definitely relate.
While high levels of exercise can be beneficial for pre-race training and initial fitness gain, it also can be used to hide excess intake of food. The problem is that you can’t outrun your fork. Its far easier to eat less and need to workout less. By having reduced time, I was finally cornered into a situation that required me to look at my intake and adjust for a smaller time allotment.
By eating more fruits, veggies, and unpackaged foods, I feel better at a lower intake and no longer have the need to go out for those long rides. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a couple hours on the trail every now and then. It just means that I ride on my terms, not because of artificial pressure related to keeping my net intake low.
Moral of the story?
Food is the majority of the wellness equation.
Spend your time where it matters most. Do what you can in the time you have, then move on. Life is too short for the perfect plan, especially when it isn’t necessarily the best option.