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Is Nutrition or Exercise More Important?

How many of you have heard this line? “Nutrition is at least 80% of your results. You can’t out-train a bad diet.” If you come to our gym, you almost certainly have, because I’ve said it! The problem with this statement, however, is that it tends to minimize the importance of other aspects of your health. How do mindset, exercise, sleep, and relationships all fit into that last 20% and get their fare share of attention? The answer is that they don’t. Nutrition matters, but when you ask the question is nutrition or exercise more important, Summit’s Head Coach, Jason Kivett, has the right answer.

“Nutrition matters 100%. Exercise, working out, matters 100%. Sleep and recovery matter 100%. Mindset matters 100%. Your relationships matter 100%.”

Sounds kind of daunting, doesn’t it? The good news is the effort needed to focus on all aspects of your health doesn’t require 500% of your capabilities. It just requires a plan.

What areas of health can we improve?

There are five areas of health which will move you forward, and over which you actually have control:

  1. Exercise
  2. Nutrition
  3. Sleep and Recovery
  4. Mindset
  5. Relationships

There are two others, genetics and environment, over which you have significantly less control so we’ll not even worry about them. In order to maximize your health and fitness the five areas above are truly what you want to keep in mind when evaluating and deciding on a health and fitness plan. Therefore, even the question is nutrition or exercise more important is fairly shortsighted; exercise and nutrition carry the same importance as recovery, mindset, and relationships. We need to constantly be seeking improvement in all of these areas.

Understandably, there may be seasons of your life when one is prioritized over another. For example, if you are preparing to run a marathon you may prioritize exercise, nutrition, and recovery over relationships. However, to live a complete, full life, in the long term you are seeking balance across all five of these areas.

How do you improve each of these?

Improving all five areas of health at once can be a big task. Additionally, everyone’s situation is unique and you probably are at different stages in your journey toward a positive mindset, effective exercise plan, and healthy nutrition. Therefore, the amount of effort needed to improve even 1% in each of these can be drastically different.

First and foremost, determine what area of your health you are most in need of improving. If you don’t know the answer to that, reach out to our team. We can help guide you through that conversation and determine the best path for moving forward.

Once you’ve understood what you most need to improve to move your overall state toward health and wellness, you’ll need to build a plan to improve this aspect over time. You did not gain thirty pounds in three weeks; you’re not going to lose it in three weeks either. You didn’t wake up every morning doubting yourself and unhappy with your life from one decision and one thought. Fixing your mindset doesn’t take one journaling session and one round of meditation. Set your expectations appropriately and understand that your plan will take time.

How long does it take to improve my health?

Our experience has been that you need to commit to at least 12 weeks of focused effort to see legitimate improvement in any area of your health. That’s just the average, and every single person’s individual plan may take less or more to truly change your current state.

For example, if you’re incredibly fit like a CrossFit Games Athlete (Katrin Davidsdottir, Mat Fraser, Tia Toomey, and many others) getting just 1% better in your fitness takes time. These people are not setting new personal records on their lifts every week in the gym. On the flip side, if you’re just starting out in your fitness journey, you may set a personal record on any movement literally each time you test it for up to a year. It is incredible how fast the body adapts to new stimuluses.

You can relate this to your career, as well. When you got your first job, you probably knew very little about what you needed to do to grow in your role. Hopefully your manager helped craft a plan to improve specific areas of your professional abilities, and as you followed those you found yourself quickly improving because it was the entry level for knowledge and expertise. As you continue to move forward in your career, it becomes harder and harder to add more skills.

Do all of these matter equally for every goal?

This is a really important question, and the answer is a resounding no. It is entirely possible that each of your goals may align with only a couple of these areas of health. For example, if you are really focused on looking a certain way for an upcoming event such as a wedding, your nutrition, exercise, and recovery are going to be prioritized over relationships and mindset.

On the flip side, if you’ve been struggling with anxiety, stress, and finding fulfillment in your life, your mindset is going to be prioritized over nutrition. It’s not that you should ever completely neglect one of these areas; but maybe for a season of your life you can keep one at its same level – not improving or getting worse – while focusing your extra effort into other areas of health. It’s up to you and your coach to evaluate what the right answer is for you at any given time.

To sum it all up, let’s go back to Jason’s response, “Nutrition matters 100%. Exercise, working out, matters 100%. Sleep and recovery matter 100%. Mindset matters 100%. Your relationships matter 100%.” It all warrants your attention and care – the question simply lies in how much, when, and where do you apply your effort. If you need help with that, we’d love to be your guide.

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