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For many people out there, fitness is just a small part of everyday life, if it’s a part of everyday life at all.

Paying attention to health and fitness, in these cases, may involve nothing much more than taking the stairs from time to time, or going to the gym every once in a while.

For a significant number of other people, however, fitness is a major part of life. In fact, it’s more like a lifestyle in and of itself, than a simple set of activities or a pastime.

Whether you are an enthusiastic athlete who is aiming to go pro, are a dedicated bodybuilder, or just have a real commitment to your regularly scheduled gym visits and fitness classes, however, there are certain serious mistakes that many people end up making, when it comes to how they engage with fitness as a lifestyle.

Here are a number of common fitness-lifestyle mistakes to be mindful of, and to avoid.

Not accounting for adequate rest and recovery

According to many different commentators out there today, proper rest, relaxation, and recovery are major issues not only in the world of health and fitness, but in everyday life as a whole, for vast numbers of people around the world.

In the United States, for example, the average person is apparently working longer hours, and getting less sleep, than at any time over the past century.

You don’t have to search hard to find many examples of people who are chronically burned out, stressed, exhausted, and demoralised as a result of “grinding” to much, and who struggle to dedicate enough time to things like sleep, relaxation, and providing a general-purpose counterbalance to the stresses of life, as a whole.

When it comes to the world of fitness, though, all of these trends and issues are significantly exacerbated – because any form of exercise that you might engage in is always going to be a stress on the body, and more intense workouts in particular have the potential to dramatically increase stress hormone levels, to deplete the body of important resources, and to tax the central nervous system, among other things.

If fitness is a lifestyle for you, there is a significant risk that you are one of the many people out there who train hard on a more or less daily basis, without giving proper attention to things like good sleep, and good rest and recovery in general.

As many of the most experienced athletes and “physical culture advocates” of the past – such as Jack LaLanne – could tell you, though, rest and recovery is a fundamentally important part of a fitness-focused lifestyle, that you just can’t neglect if you want to have the best possible results.

For one thing, exercise doesn’t directly make you stronger, improve your cardiovascular endurance, or give you the results you’re after in general, by itself. Exercise is just a stimulus that causes minor levels of stress and damage to the body. In order to actually build bigger muscles, stronger ligaments, and so on, your body needs to be able to rest and recover.

A major part of growth and recovery happens during sleep – especially deep and restful sleep. And it should go without saying that if you keep breaking down the same muscle groups in the same ways, day after day, they’re not going to have a lot opportunity to recover and grow stronger.

In addition to all of this, good rest and recovery are essential for counteracting what can otherwise be a chronic state of stress in the body, where the catabolic hormone cortisol is consistently elevated in a very unhelpful and unhealthy way.

Eating a diet that doesn’t properly fuel performance

If fitness is going to be a sustainable part of your lifestyle, and if you’re going to take it seriously, it’s essential to understand that your performance in any given athletic or physical endeavour is going to have a lot to do with your diet, and the way you are feeding and fuelling yourself.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the way you eat, in addition to directly influencing performance, can also directly influence your ability to recover, as well as the degree to which you experience elevated stress levels.

Very low carb diets have become popular in recent times, for example. While these diets may be effective fat loss tools, they are not going to be good for intense exercise performance – particularly for explosive activities, and most experts also don’t regard them as being good for health over the long term.

The way the body’s energy systems work, carbohydrates are required for the most high intensity and explosive movements – as these movements are fuelled by ATP and glycogen.

Additionally, it’s known that very low carbohydrate diets lead to elevated levels of cortisol, and that cortisol has a more or less inverse relationship to testosterone in the body – while also contributing to the breakdown of muscle tissue, as well as causing unpleasant subjective sensations of stress and anxiety.

Whether you use supplements such as those sold by companies like EatProtein, the way you eat can have a major impact on your ability to perform, while simultaneously influencing your ability to properly manage your stress levels.

Being too results-focused and not process-focused enough

In order for fitness to really be a lifestyle, in a sustainable way, it’s necessary to fall in love with the process of working out, keeping fit, and everything that goes along with it, and not only to fall in love with the idea of the specific end result you are pursuing.

One of the key reasons why fitness-based New Year’s resolutions often don’t end up working out as well as many people would like, is because of the simple fact that individuals often end up setting those kinds of resolutions in a “results-focused” way.

In other words, instead of it being about throwing yourself into the world of fitness in a way that helps you to thrive on the process, it ends up being about pursuing particular targets, such as “I will weigh X by date Y,” and so on.

Focus on doing workouts that you actually enjoy, aim to be present when training, and don’t be primarily results-focused.