Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Why we need to get the balance right on healthy living – and avoid ‘fitness extremism’

Sunderland City 10k and half marathon.
Sunderland City 10k and half marathon.
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It seems that there is some what of a health and fitness vibe in the city right now. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people out walking and jogging, and the gym I go to seems to be super busy lately.

Maybe it’s the slight improvement in weather or maybe people are starting to think about how they want to look in their swimwear as their summer holiday approaches.

It may be that people are feeling inspired after last week’s Sunderland City 10k and Half Marathon, which by the way was awesome! Whatever the reason, all activity is good activity in my book.

That said, there seems to be a lot of extremism within the health and fitness, which has gradually gotten worse in recent times.

But what is fitness extremism I hear you cry?

It’s quite simply a major all or nothing approach to diet and exercise.

Essentially, fitness extremists are either hitting the gym twice a day and living on only steamed broccoli and chicken or avoiding the gym like the plague and eating their own body weight in biscuits just because they strayed from the healthy path and nibbled one custard cream.

In my opinion, everyone, including us lot right here in Sunderland, needs a dose of realism.

Yes, of course it would be great if everyone eliminated processed and junk food from their diet and never touched a drop of alcohol again…we’d all be super healthy and happily polishing our halos everyday.

The reality is that most people have a life.

They have a stressful job, a family to look after, social occasions and many other ‘life’ factors, which make it difficult to be ‘perfect’ all of the time when it comes to food.

Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t my way of saying that just because you’re a busy person you have an excuse not to make good choices, and nor am I saying that you should never touch ‘bad’ food again.

I’m simply illustrating that nutrition, fitness (and life) is about balance.

For me, as a personal trainer, balance is two-fold. Firstly it’s a combination of making health/goal-based choices and enjoying life and the things you love. Then it’s about making sure that you don’t neglect food groups, for example, cutting carbs from your diet.

There may well be times when you need to be a little stricter with what you eat and drink, if for example, you have a holiday coming up or you want to make signifiant aesthetic changes to your body. But on the whole, if you want to be healthier, happier, stay in shape and improve your fitness levels, then a balanced approach is key.

So let’s stop being crazy extremists and instead just work on getting the balance right.