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Beware Absolutes and Extremists

Extremists often give things a bad name.

If we think of religion, extremists are often the ones that do a ton of nasty stuff in the ‘name of their religion.’ They become the ones we often associate with religion ‘being bad,’ even if the majority of the people involved in a particular religion are actually good people.

If we think of fitness, extremists often give people the impression that, an’ all or nothing’ effort is required for success.

You absolutely have to run a marathon, or compete in a power lifting competition, you need huge goals and you need to kick butt.

Not surprisingly, these people often turn others completely off the notion of improving their physical health.

If you’re the type of person forcing your way down other people’s throats, no wonder they are put off by the thought of doing anything you’re doing, you may even realize you’re turning people off to exercise. I’ve been in this environment before, it just got too hardcore for me, I use fitness as a support system for the things I love doing, like snowboarding and surfing, playing squash or going for a bike ride.

Extremists often do not represent the norm. They are not your average fitness enthusiast, or your average religion participant. The average gym-goer or ‘active lifestyle seeker’ is somewhere much more in the middle of extremes. This is roughly 80-90% of the people I work with on a regular basis.

Actually, I heard a great analogy recently that inspired this post.

At the other end of the spectrum we have people who just inherently don’t care or don’t want to care about anything. They seek to discourage any type of behaviour, not just extremist behaviour but any kind of success in anything, no matter how minimal it may be. These are the ‘downers’ of our existence, they are equally difficult to deal with in respect to change or beliefs. They are extremists, but to a far more negative extent.

If you look closely at extremes, you end up with this spectrum of negative and positive influence over your life.

If you are looking to get more fit, change your physical self, then you should probably be striving for something more like this:

Negative Extreme —————————————You——————-Positive Extreme

You see, perhaps slightly skewed to the positive side of extreme, but still somewhere in the middle. You should seek to associate yourself with people who are like-minded, mid-range train of thought thinkers. Seek out jobs that encourage mid-range creative thinking. Expand your mind with mid-range thinkers. Vary your workouts. Calm your nerves with mid-range meditation. Seek out new experiences.

This process is a common theme of this blog:

Find your BALANCE

You do not need to cut out all the foods you love in order to get fit. You do not have to work out 2 hours a day, 6 days a week to get fit. Yoga (or insert any other ‘exclusive type’ of exercise here) alone every day, will not make you fit. You do not have to commit to a marathon or Ironman to make a strong enough commitment to change your fitness levels.

Just because you do it, doesn’t mean you should, and just because you don’t do it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start. There is an optimal balance anyone can achieve based on personality and values.

All or nothing strategies, seldom work.