My new hobby when I’m not doing something fitness related is gardening. While I’m not any kind of master green thumb, I was thinking about how building and maintaining a garden is much like building and maintaining a healthy body. I love analogies, so hopefully these will light your fire, too:
1) Quality matters. If you take the cheap and easy way out of building a garden, your plants likely won’t flourish and grow as you would like. There is value in purchasing quality plants, soil, plant feed, etc. The same holds true for the food you put in your body. You can eat cheap processed food and not balance your macronutrients (fat, protein, carbs) appropriately, but you likely won’t get the results you’re looking for.
2) You have to be consistent. If you only water your garden once per week, it may maintain its current state (if you’re lucky), or won’t be seeing lush and healthy foliage by the end of the season. Plants and bodies respond to consistency. Only exercising once per week is better than not at all, but it’s not going to result in substantial body changes. The ACSM recommends cardio activity daily and strength training minimum 2-3 times per week.
3) The rewards are worth the efforts. It’s exciting to see a plant you cared for last year flourish and bloom when it’s back in season. As you continue to put effort into the plant, it continues to grow each year. You will think back to when it was a sprout and feel a sense of pride that your efforts paid off. There are many days that go by that you don’t want to exercise and would rather eat cake instead. Those are the days you should do your workout no matter what. You will always look back and feel proud when you are stronger and healthier as a result of your efforts.
4) Results take time. They say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” You can’t expect to plant a garden today and have it looking like Home & Garden magazine by the end of the season. Before setting goals for your body, it’s important to be realistic about where you are starting from. If you haven’t exercised in years or if you have gained weight over an extended period of time, you won’t be at peak fitness in 6 weeks. Patience, in addition to consistency, is key.
5) The project never really ends. Once your garden is flourishing and beautiful, you will likely still find yourself moving plants around and planting new ones. Likewise, when you reach one fitness goal, there are always others to aim for. Weeding, mulching, and feeding plants are on-going projects. Maintenance of a fitness goal once you have achieved it is the most challenging part of a fitness journey. You put in a lot of time and effort to get there – don’t let it go to waste!