The Problem With Go Big or Go Home
Updated: Jul 29, 2019
Skydiving. Eating an XL pizza in one sitting. Testing out a new bench press PR. Taking a leap of faith with your career. Asking that person you like out.
Go big or go home right?
Do whatever you’re doing to the absolute fullest.
How many times have you said that to be bold, to justify something, as encouragement to go all the way, to really push your limits?
You’re not alone. Me too. Go big or go home used to be on a regular rotation in my vocabulary.
But not as much anymore.
Let’s be blunt here, the fitness and nutrition industry can be elitist and intimidating at times. There’s a lot of go big or go home, all-or-nothing mentalities evident. In my opinion, those mentalities play a big role in the pompous, intimidating vibes that the industry can give off.
But hey, that's just my two cents. So back to the go big or go home mentalities.
It’s not a bad saying to use and it’s not always a bad mentality to have! There’s certain situations where it’s particularly fitting. But there’s one problem.
If it’s taken to heart, it’s extreme.
And extremism is all around us.
Drastic fad diets, trying to lose weight for an event like spring break or a wedding, yo-yoing (when you go through cycles of losing weight, gaining some back, losing some more, gaining a bit), working out excessively anticipating a night out, skipping a meal to make up for accidentally eating a whole tray of cookies, I can go on all day.
Side note: trying to lose weight for an event isn’t a bad thing. Having a set date to work towards can be really motivating. But often, once that date comes and goes, the weight that was lost comes back (sometimes with vengeance). That reveals that what was done to lose weight was merely for the event and not done in a manner that creates realistic and lasting weight loss habits.
Not only can this mentality mess with our hormones and metabolism (so how our bodies process and utilize food) but it’s a mindset that sets us up for failure.
Comfort food happens.
Unexpected rest days happen.
We can’t rely on a strict, regimented schedule (working on practicing what I preach here) to guide us towards a truly healthy and balanced life. Our schedules change, our priorities change, we change.
When I was a bikini competitor, I had a set workout split: shoulders, legs, back, arms, glutes. If I was traveling on a shoulder day, that meant I had to get my workout in before I left (I’m a morning lifter), even if that meant waking up at 3, 4, or 5am. I had to get it done.
If I was sick and probably (definitely) should’ve rested, I’d suck it up and go to the gym. If I wasn’t bleeding, dying, or on fire, I was at the gym. If for some unearthly reason I couldn’t make it to the gym, I’d be like well my muscles are deflating or that’s going to show on stage or that puts me behind where I should be.
Like that ONE DAY was really going to make that much of a difference.
Spoiler alert: it didn't. It’s absurd and alarming how consuming an all-or-nothing mentality can be.
In some ways I still do have an all-or-nothing mentality; it's what enables me to achieve the things that I want to accomplish.
But when it comes to my health, I’ve really been trying to take a step back and listen to my body. My workout split doesn’t need to be set in stone. If I only do 1 upper body day one week and 2 the next, or swap out a leg day with a full body day, or turn a lift into a core or HIIT day, it is o k a y. I won’t lose my muscle definition or be further from where I want to be.
Not only is it good both mentally and physically to switch things up, but that’s what being healthy really is.
It’s about listening to your body.
Allowing some wiggle room.
Giving yourself flexibility.
Freeing yourself from guilt.
We all have different backgrounds, needs, sensitivities, goals, and obstacles – we’re all different. Everyone’s version of “being healthy” is going to be different. That’s expected. But with that, you can’t expect yourself to look like that person on Instagram or assume what works for someone else will work for you in the same exact way.
With these Instagram accounts and big names in the fitness + nutrition industry: it’s okay to turn to them for guidance or to use them as a resource, but it’s not okay to yearn and strive to look like them. They’re not meant to be fully depended on or mimicked.
Wake up every day and strive to create your own definition of “being healthy”. Maybe that includes a little bit of the go big or go home mentality; maybe it doesn’t. Whatever you do, just make sure that it’s enjoyable, realistic, maintainable, genuinely makes you happy, adds to your quality of life, and works for YOU.