The question hit my inbox and I could only shake my head.
I'm pretty worried right now. The holidays are here and there are so many parties. How many can I go to? And do you have any diet guidelines for Christmas and New Year's?
I wasn't actually mad at my client. The question was fair but frustrating, and only because he was one of 10 people to ask almost the same question.
I could only wonder and regret, "How the did we get to this point?"
This "point" is a place where the most commonly held belief is that fitness and nutrition is black and white; and "healthy" is experienced as an overwhelming and depressing shade of stressful perfection.
The idea that we always have to eat healthy is misguided.
The notion that we can't indulge and still look great is inaccurate.
The mindset that we must train all the time to be fit is misleading.
The healthiest and most effective plans are ones that focus on consistency and patience and are built to withstand desserts, days off and daiquiris. (Yeah, I said daiquiris. I guess "drinks" would have been a little manlier.)
This is especially important during the holiday season where many people that have worked hard throughout the year are worried about blowing it all in a couple of weeks.
Not. Going. To. Happen.
The same can be said for people that weren't so healthy throughout the year. You can start the process of undoing your struggles by shifting your mindset towards something new; an approach that might just knock over the first domino to better health.
It starts with ditching whatever inflexible mindset you have about what it takes to look and feel good. That doesn't mean you should say, "screw it" and not worry about your behaviors and actions.
But it does mean you should understand the context of what it means to be healthy.
Healthy is enjoying your life.
Healthy is finding the right situations to eat the foods you love.
Healthy is not worrying if you miss a day you planned to exercise, especially if it's because you're doing something better with your time.
My company, Born Fitness, was built on the principle of balance. I don't care if you're a professional bodybuilder or a recreational couch surfer -- we all need balance.
How will I spend my holiday? However I please. And I recommend you try something similar.
Your goal is to separate what it takes from what isn't needed. Add the good and remove the bad, and that includes the rigidity of diets you can't stand (you hear me, diets that say you can't eat at night) and workouts that aren't fun.
Do your best to train hard, passionately, and relentlessly. But if you miss days don't sweat it.
Your job is to prioritize your health but not be perfect with it, especially during the holidays. The people you spend time with and the memories you make count more than any one workout.
That's not an excuse or a lack of commitment to your fitness. Anyone who suggests such a thing that is only spreading the venom of their own insecurities and fears. If they choose to stay strict it can be perfectly healthy... if it's their choice. But that doesn't mean it has to be yours.
Instead, focus a mindset that helps you establish balance and peace of mind. Ultimately, it will probably lead to more consistency, better workouts, and improved diet compliance. That's what happens when you have freedom and don't need to stress the small things.
If you need a place to start, find an area that's tough for you -- such as eating carbs -- and follow a more realistic approach.
Your workouts and eating habits should be a priority, but not always the top priority. Use your judgment about what's important and enjoy.
Your body wouldn't have it any other way.
Adam Bornstein is the founder of Born Fitness and a New York Times best selling author. For more information about how to eliminate confusion with the health and fitness industry click here.