MARK FISHER FITNESS

ROTATING YOUR CROPS

Just as farmland can benefit from rotating crops, your fitness life will also benefit from some planned variety.

You may be familiar with the concept of “rotating crops.” This is a farming technique where you grow different crops on the same piece of land at different times of the year.

I’ve often written about your life in fitness as responding to the broader seasons of your life at large. For your author, a season focused on a newborn child is a very different season than one focused on enjoying the ease and time-wealth of 20-something singledom.

“Rotating your crops” is a slightly-different but equally useful framework for balancing your long-term fitness and health goals with your short-term pleasure goals.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting a “fully on, fully off” approach to fitness. I’m not endorsing alternating periods of eating and drinking everything you want to be followed by periods of highly restrictive dieting. That would be alternating planting your crops with periods of slashing and burning. 🙂

But a calendar year has its own rhythms. It lends itself to turning the volume up or down on your fitness habits. And that’s ok.

Some times of year –– like the holidays –– we’ll have a busier schedule of social functions, traditions, and delicious snacks. We may not be able to work out as often. We may be indulging a bit more than usual. But in the context of celebrating the holidays and connecting with loved ones, there can be a place for this in your personal best life.

Other times of year –– like the New Year –– can inspire more adherence to up-leveling your fitness. And while most New Year’s resolutions seem to fail, particularly when one attempts a dramatic overhaul, there can still be value in leveraging a fresh start.

Now here’s what I really like about the metaphor of “rotating your crops…”

It’s only normal for us to experience hedonic adaptation. This is a fancy term that means the third bite of chocolate cake is never as good as the first. It also means the third mug of spiked apple cider at your fifth-holiday party is never as delicious as the first one at the first party of the season. We adapt; each successive indulgence loses some of its sparkles.

Even if we’re optimizing for pleasure, we’ll do better to ride these ebbs and flows. Because when we DO savor a treasured snack, or work out less and rest more, it feels novel. We can adapt our habits to a given time of year to create ease and support our enjoyment of short-term pleasures AND still keep an eye out for long-term health and fitness success.

Like the statisticians say, “all models are wrong, some are useful.” This model isn’t perfect. In practice, many people struggle with turning the volume up or down, as opposed to turning the music totally off (h/t to Dr. John Berardi for the metaphor).

But there’s some wisdom here. 

As we approach this holiday season, I’ll still nudge you to manage your fitness minimums. You can find some actionable strategies on that topic HERE. Again, I’m not endorsing throwing all fitness habits to the wind.

I am saying that you only get to live one life. 

And by being intentional and rotating our crops, we can leverage the seasonality of a calendar year to live our personal best life and optimize for pleasure and thriving.

You are my absolute favorite garden to till,

Mark

PS Want to connect with some unicorn farmer types to help you rotate your crops for maximum effect? 😉

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