We all want fast fitness. Immediate gratification has been programmed into us. While intellectually you know quick-fix options don’t work, you may not know that there is a non-intuitive path to fast fitness.

It’s not a dozen things all at once.

That multitasking approach gets us into so much trouble. Yet women tend to default to it over and over again. Have you been guilty of simultaneously starting an exercise program, modifying your diet, and changing lifestyle habits? Did it provide a linear progression right to your goals?

I rest my case.

At the threshold of fall and a season that often brings more routine, and a recommitment to regular exercise, and in general, better health habits including a more structured bedtime, based on our school years’ conditioning, this post aims to keep you out of a sea of possibility in favor of the probability of results. There is likely one thing that holds the key to unlocking your fitness potential.

Fast Fitness Surprises

The real solution for fast fitness may seem completely unrelated to fitness at all. If, for example, you’re not sleeping, no amount of exercise – more, less, or a time of day change – will help you. If you’re under an extreme amount of stress, self-imposed or caused by situations beyond your control, your exercise may be ineffective at speeding you to fast fitness. Then there are the mistakes we make like cutting calories or eating foods that lack nutrient density that slow metabolism instead of increasing it.

You’ve heard that you can’t outrun a bad diet. You can’t out-lift it either. You also can’t out-exercise stress or sleep deprivation.

Exercise As a Catalyst for Fast Fitness

Maybe you’re not quite exercising enough. For many women exercise is the catalyst for fast fitness, not because it alone “burns calories.” That old approach to weight loss belongs in the 80’s where it was born. Your hormones control your body weight and ultimately your ability to improve fitness. Exercise for many women is a way to negate stress. Provided it’s the right frequency, duration and intensity for you it can indeed be a big player in your fast fitness. I emphasize again that it’s not about calories though. It’s about hormone balance and the cascade of positive effects it would have on your stress and making better dietary choices.

There’s proof that following exercise, subjects self-select foods that are healthier and lower in overall calories. That said, low calorie is not necessarily the goal. If you have a better awareness of health fats, protein needs, and nutrient-dense foods, however, you’re going to opt for those post exercise. Things snowball positively or negatively. Who hasn’t experienced missing a workout, a stressful situation at work, and then exposure to trigger foods that cause the white flag of surrender?

Among all of the components that contribute to optimal fitness there is one that will cause others to fall into place. I challenge you this month to identify that one thing. Focus on just that. Emphasize your progress on just that. It doesn’t mean if you choose sleep as your focus, you won’t exercise or make better choices at meals. It just means you’re not going to “grade” yourself on those things. They are simply going to occur more naturally as a result of your one thing.

Indirect Path to Fast Fitness

You know when Siri takes you the long way around and you resist? Then you learn that construction or road closures made the long route the faster route? That’s exactly what happens here by not always choosing exercise as the fast fitness track.

Let’s use sleep as an example of the one thing you’re going to focus on. As I work with clients I ask them to focus not on a big goal like “get more sleep.” Instead, we set in place the cues and actions that have to happen to make that a reality. To “get more sleep” any of the following might be the action steps:

  • Get to bed an hour earlier than your current schedule
  • Shut off screens 60-90 minutes before new bedtime
  • Stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime
  • Increase healthy carbohydrates with evening meal (induce calm and relaxation)
  • Control sleep environment for noise and darkness
  • Keep the temperature in the room a cool 65-68 degrees

The result of focusing on the right single thing is the domino effect it has on improving other habits. With optimal sleep you have more energy to exercise. You’ll make better decisions at meals. Your productivity and creativity will improve. You may lose weight if there’s a need.

Your challenge this month is to choose your one thing. Then determine two or three things that have to happen in order for the one thing to improve. These things are going to be the daily actions (or things you must stop). These actions and only these are your goal for a month. The one thing is going to be the outcome.

Share your one thing in the comments on our Facebook page. It will not only inspire others, it will help you frame it and commit. It’s odd that though many of us don’t do this, when we’re challenged to choose, we know exactly what it is we need.

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About The Author

Debra Atkinson

Fitness expert, author and professional speaker Debra Atkinson, MS, CSCS is the host of The Flipping 50 Show podcast and Flipping 50 TV show as seen on Flippingfifty.com. With more than 30 years experience in the fitness industry, she is also America's Boomer Babe Fitness Expert. Her most recent book, You Still Got It, Girl! The After 50 Fitness Formula for Women, and her keynotes focus on how to win the war on energy and optimal weight at every age, while having a ball doing it. She will highly recommend a midlife crisis to stop settling and start living and laughing more. Visit her at https://www.flippingfifty.com/