Here’s my simple and common metaphor for one’s pursuit of fitness: it’s climbing a never-ending mountain. Now you can climb fairly high on that mountain if you just sprint full force at the base, jump on some footholds, and start scurrying. This is just like how you can drop some weight, get in decent shape, and make some positive changes by jumping into a loosely programmed lifting schedule, or trying the newest exercise class fad, or by going on the latest “eat bread, get abs, take naps” crash diet that some random out-of-shape celebrity is promoting. Here’s the problem with “running up the mountain” though: now you find yourself hanging by skin of your fingertips, unable to climb any further, and unable to relax your grip, lest you want to tumble all the way down the slope. See where I’m going here folks?
If you want to climb Everest, you get a sherpa, supplies, some knowledge of how to safely climb, and you make sure that you’re tying in a safety line every however many feet. You do all of this so that you’re prepared, you do all of this so that you’re safe, and you do all of this so that if you slip up a little bit you don’t just go right back to where you started. Why do people think it’s acceptable to just tackle the mountainous journey that is personal health and fitness with no knowledge or preparation? I don’t know, but I do know that these are often the same people who are one missed gym day away from a missed gym month, and one cheat meal away from living off of ice cream.
Now when you choose to properly prepare yourself to undertake your journey (following a program, getting a personal trainer, and training in a proper strength & conditioning facility), you can trek to your peak of performance at whatever pace you wish. You can slow down when you know you need to, and speed up when you’re able; and you’re never one mistake away from total failure because you’re always “clipped in”. Sure, some people operate best, or at least they think that they operate best, in an “all or nothing” environment, but they’re always going to be just barely hanging on. When I miss a day at the gym, I never worry that it’s the start of my downfall; too many people can’t say the same.