Roughly speaking, there are two ways to go about when you’re working on your fitness goals. The first way is being intuitive, going “by feel”, in everything you do. That means deciding on the go what you are going to train that day, what you feel like eating and so on. This style requires good self-knowledge and trust in oneself.
The other way is being task-specific. Relying on someone else’s expertise. Possibly using a sleeping app to make sure the quality is on point. Counting macros. Following a clear training program and so on. This one requires a systematic, possibly monotone way of living. It requires a will to push through days when you’re just not feeling it and a trust in the systems you have decided to follow.
Picture: Tomi Salakari
Both of these methods can be great when wisely utilized. Some people love having everything planned out, for others a certain freedom is a must.
The most common way of practice is a mix of these two. For example, you go by feel with your nutrition, but you like to have a specific training program that someone else programs for you.
On the other side, both of these styles could also be hindering your progress. If you go only by feel, there might be a risk that you are skipping some necessary details. If you go by a strict schedule, there might be a bigger chance that you burn out if you don’t learn to listen to your body.
Let’s dig into these two a little bit more.
Which one are you?
It’s really important to get to know yourself on a deeper level if you want to find out how to achieve your goals. Your goals are usually something that gets you excited. To become happier, to get fit, to quit a bad habit, to compete in a sport, to do well in school or to get a certain job or promotion. Whatever gets you excited, it is up to you to break that main goal into many different pieces in order to find out what steps you need to take to get closer to it.
I am personally more of the task-specific type. I love dialing in on a lot of things like sleep, nutrition and my overall schedule. But there have been situations when it has turned against me and therefor hindered my progress. In the past, I have followed training programs a bit blindly and not listened to certain warning signs my body was trying to tell me. On the other side, I have also used my intuitive style a bit wrong, for example when it comes to nutrition, by kind of just eating when I want and what I want. That resulted in low quality of nutrients and eating too little, which then caused low energy levels and bad mood.
If you have not achieved your goals yet you need to STUDY to get there. By studying I mean studying yourself, becoming your own best buddy. You are most likely just lacking the information. Studying is here meant as a broad subject. Reading is a great way to gain knowledge but there also are many other ways; talking to experts and non-experts, spending time with different people, spending time alone, travelling to a new place, stepping out of your daily routines, reading books and listening to podcasts, writing down your thoughts, being open to new ideas and learning to LISTEN to others. Reaching out for professional help in whatever area you know you need help in. It’s important to be ready to move out of your comfort zone in the possibility to learn new. The skill to wipe out your own expectations and prejudice thoughts is a great way to start.
Picture: Sandra Hagelstam
Are you the happiest when you “go by feel” with the things you do? Would you eat what you want and when you want by listening to your body and needs for that exact moment? Would you go to sleep when you’re tired, no matter if it would be early or after midnight and wake up without an alarm clock? Would you workout when you feel like it and choose the tempo and movement on the go? Do you like to keep your calendar quite empty since you don’t know how you will feel in two days?
Can you separate what you really need from what you’re just tempted to need? There is a fine line between these two and no one can really say for sure when the mental aspect has a bigger benefit in comparison to the physical benefits.
Do you need this kind of freedom in order to be mentally balanced and therefor assured that you are staying true to yourself?
Being the intuititive type shouldn’t mean that if you have a surpirising sweet tooth every day at 15.00, you eat chocholate bars, because in the long run it’s not healthy. But if you feel like having a beer here and there, you have it because it makes you feel good.
Do you want an exact schedule of your food intake, count the calories/macros and track that you drink enough water during the day? Do you want to be every night in bed by 22.00 and wake up to the alarm no later than 7.30? Do you want to do cardio on Monday’s, weight training on Wednesday and Yoga on Sunday’s? Do you like to schedule even the days when you don’t do anything in your calendar? Is this a way that make you feel excited and stronger towards your goals?
Is this the way that you feel the most powerful and dedicated, sort of in control of your destiny?
It is nowadays possible to monitor and optimize almost everything. Sometimes that can become a bit draining, though, and you might feel more like a robot than a human being.
Picture: Tuomas Hinkkanen
You don’t have to (an probably won’t be able to) decide that you are exactly either one but the goal is to figure out in which areas you are more of the task-specific type and in which areas you’re more of the intuitive type. The main thing here is to find an efficient system to achieve your goals. The whole process can become a struggle if you don’t have the right tools for you.
Obviously these both types work. When I went to Ben Bergerons seminar in London, I understood that his way leans more towards the task-oriented -style. When I went to Tia-Clair Toomey’s seminar in Madrid a week after that, I understood that an intuitive style has worked really well for them. Both styles make champions, that’s why the whole idea is to find out who you are.
Anyone can hold onto a tight schedule for a few weeks, but a few weeks wont make you a champion. Anyone can also live by intuition, but they might have a hard time getting the work done if they live too freely.
Picture: Sandra Hagelstam
Now put these thoughts into work by testing them in real life. If one way makes you miserable then don’t do it, find another way. A certain level of discipline is needed when you’re inheriting a new habit but if it doesn’t become something enjoyable and somewhat automatic after several weeks, then you might wanna change your way of doing it.
In some situations you might love being very task-oriented and precise but in other you might love your freedom.
I’ve personally shifted my intuitive way if living within nutrition towards a more task-oriented style, by making sure I get enough energy in a day, and I feel much better. In training though, I’ve changed my task-oriented style towards a more intuitive style, by learning to listen to the signs of my body and doing the kind of training that I really need. That has required some patience for a few months, but I’m now starting to see the benefits and oh man are they good!
One last word!
It’s important to always remember to skip the box thinking, since we change all the time! What worked for you last year, might be different from what works for you now. If someone has told you that you are a certain type, don’t be too quick to let that define you today.
You create your own reality!
Picture: Sandra Hagelstam