My daughter is obsessed with a show on Disney called Goldi and Bear. The show is loosely based on the characters from the famous children’s story (which actually was originally quite scary) Goldilocks and The Three Bears. The other day while she was watching the show, it got me thinking about how we can apply the lessons from the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to health and fitness.
In the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, Goldilocks tries the bear’s porridge. Then she sat in all three of the bear’s chairs and broke the smallest one. What did we learn from this story? We learnt that porridge is full of carbs and carbs make you fat and break chairs.
Now that you have picked yourself up off the floor from laughing so hard, let’s be serious.
In the story Goldilocks tries the bear’s porridge, chairs, and beds and in each case she tries all three variations in order to find the one that is “just right”. This is why you might hear people reference something called the “Goldilocks Zone” when they find something that is “just right” for them.
This got me thinking, why don’t more people try to find the Goldilocks Zone when it comes to their health and fitness?
When I work with clients I stick to the principles I know have been proven to work time and time again.
What are those principles?
Eat foods provided by the Earth.
Spend a lot of time outside.
Sleep when the sun sets, get up when the sun rises.
Move frequently and occasionally intensely.
Chill out, relax, and enjoy life.
Find community and meaningful relationships.
Avoid dangerous situations and don’t make stupid mistakes.
These are the principles I base my coaching practice around and are also the same ones that allowed us to survive for 100’s of thousands of years. It has nothing to do with macros, meal timing, workouts, detoxes or anything else that gets clicks on the internet.
I take these ancestral principles and use them as the base for helping clients achieve their goals, whether they are an athlete looking for peak performance or a stay at home mom looking to lose weight. These are relevant to anyone no matter their goal. The specifics of how a client and I actually implement each one is all about finding the Goldilocks zone for that client. One client might find community in their church, another might find it at the gym, another might find it in a book club, everyone is different, what matters the most is the client finds a sense of community in their own Goldilocks zone.
I use the same approach of finding a client’s Goldilocks zone when we are working towards a specific goal as well. If a client has the goal of finishing an obstacle course race in a certain time and we identify the limiting factor keeping them from achieving that goal is their aerobic fitness, then I work with them on finding the right modality, volume, and intensity that will help them overcome that limiting factor. I take into consideration other lifestyle factors, training history, and most importantly, personal preference, to design an aerobic training program that will work for them. One that is just right, something that fits into their Goldilocks zone.
Health and fitness is not about following rules set in stone that were carried down from a mountain by Arnold Schwarzenegger given to him by the Fitness Gods. It is about taking the principals that have been proven to work and tweaking them to fit your needs and goals.
How can you go about finding your own Goldilocks zone in order to help you achieve your health and fitness goals? I think the best thing to do is first go through an assessment period. This gives you a starting point, that way you know where you stand and have something to measure progress against.
The easiest way to assess yourself is to start a journal documenting how well you are doing at each of the ancestral principles above. I have written about the benefits of journaling before, and I encourage you to go back and read that blog post before you start this process.
Take a week to do the assessment. Seven day is the minimum to get a good picture of where you are currently at. At the end of the seventh day take a look at how you did in each area. Where do you need to improve? Maybe you are only struggling in just one area, but more than likely there is going to be more than one area that needs improvement.
That is fine. No big deal. Don’t sweat it.
Choose one area to focus on first.
Ask yourself which one is causing the most problems?
Be sure to keep in mind that the problem might not be as straightforward as it seems at first. You might think for sure sleep is your biggest issue. That might be true, but the cause for your poor sleep could be due to the fact you are not moving enough or not getting enough sunlight. Many issues can be intertwined and it might take some investigation to figure out.
Once you identify an area you need to work on, take steps to more align that area with the goal you are trying to achieve. If for example you find, like most people, you are not moving enough throughout the day and your goal is to improve your aerobic fitness you can try add in a short hike at the beginning or end of your day or go for a bike ride, or do 5 minutes on a rower, or jump rope.
You need to find what is just right for YOU, your Goldilocks zone. Maybe you try the rower but find it boring. That’s cool, try something else. Everyone is unique, only you know what is right.
I often see people struggle with two things when it comes to finding their Goldilocks zone.
The first is looking to “experts” to see what they are doing. It is fine to look to others for different ideas, but always keep in mind it might not be right for you.
Just because Bro Insta Celeb does 1 arm biceps curls on a Bosu Ball in a fasted state after consuming a 400 calorie coffee and he is ripped does not mean you doing the same thing will get you the same results.
The second mistake I see is that people become married to what worked for them in the past. If a year ago you were in the best shape of your life working out twice a day but now you have two infant twins running around and not sleeping because they are keeping you up at night, you are going to have to find something else that works for the demands of your current life. Be flexible, be agile, and always be willing to find a new Goldilocks Zone.
It will take time to work through all the principles, and that is fine, health is a moving target and a never ending journey. Just take the steps I outlined above and keep repeating them for each principle you need to work on. Eventually it will become second nature to always be finding your Goldilocks zone and you won’t even have to think about it.
If you want more articles that can help you find your own Goldilocks zone, sign up for my newsletter. If you need help and have been struggling finding what is right for you with your diet, fitness, sleep, stress, community, or anything else reach out on Facebook Messenger or Instagram, I am always happy to help!