Making Healthy Lifestyle Changes: Boot Camp vs Club Med

Bootcamp or Club MedDo you find yourself oscillating between two extremes when it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes? Being super hard on yourself in order to eat perfectly, then completely letting yourself go and eating whatever is there? Or exercising obsessively for a few days…and unable to get off the sofa the next few days?

I call these two extremes Boot Camp vs. Club Med.

When we’re in Boot Camp mode, we expect everything to be hard

Boot Camp mode sounds like:

If it isn’t hard, I’m not doing it right

I have to deprive myself

I am never good enough

I have to eat/exercise perfectly otherwise I am flawed

No pain, no gain

Only by criticising myself can I move forward

The problem with Boot Camp is that it isn’t very pleasant to be there. So when we can’t take it any longer, we swing over to the other extreme and go into Club Med mode.

Club Med mode sounds like:

It shouldn’t be so hard

I don’t feel like making an effort

I deserve a treat

Who cares if I don’t achieve my health goal – I just want to feel good right now

I don’t want to make any decisions – someone else should decide for me

It feels comfortable right here even if I’m not moving forward

Do you recognize yourself in these extremes – perhaps more in one than the other?

Boot Camp mode helps us step out of our comfort zone and move towards our health goals…but it is often motivated by fear and is tough to keep up in the long-term.

Club Med mode feels good in the short term and keeps us safely ensconced in our comfort zone…but doesn’t move us any closer to our health goals.

So is there a third mode that is more effective to making change?

I call the in-between mode Yoga Retreat mode. In Yoga Retreat mode, you push yourself past your comfort zone and you do it from a place of love and wanting what is best for you.

You realize that a certain amount of discomfort is necessary for moving forward in life…but that this doesn’t have to be extreme and painful (Boot Camp) or something to avoid altogether (Club Med). You start becoming a little more comfortable with being uncomfortable. You realize that the discomfort of a craving or a workout won’t kill you and can actually move you towards the person you want to be.

You notice that you don’t need to live in extreme control and willpower – you can actually trust your body to make the best decisions for you. You don’t have to throw away the chocolate because you think you lack willpower (Boot Camp) or let yourself go and eat the whole bar (Club Med). In Yoga Retreat mode, when you eat chocolate, you do so mindfully, savouring every bite and taking true pleasure in the experience.

Yoga Retreat mode is motivated by self-compassion even when there are set-backs – even when you forget to eat mindfully 10 times and remember once. Instead of an attitude of “I already ate two cookies – what the hell, I’ll just finish the packet”, Yoga Retreat mode is about picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, reminding yourself why you are doing this and taking action towards your goal.

Yoga Retreat mode is about loving yourself into change.

It is motivated by a desire to live more fully instead of a fear of never being good enough (Boot Camp) or a fear of stepping out of your comfort zone (Club Med).

I know that for a long time, I swung between the two extremes (spending more time in Club Med mode) and that it is only by applying the principles of Intuitive Eating and Mindful Eating that I was able to create a much healthier relationship with food and find exercise I actually enjoy instead of having it feel like punishment.

Can you relate to this? Which camp do you find yourself in most of the time?

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4 Comments

  • Vanessa on Aug 27, 2014 Reply

    Me too, love this post and the concept of “yoga retreat mode”!
    I bet I am more in the Club Med mode with a tiny, tiny bit of Boot Camp, slowly shifting to the yoga retreat mode. It is often more difficult to be kind to oneself than to others…

    • Hiba on Aug 27, 2014 Reply

      That is true Vanessa! It takes constant practise and a willingness to realize that we are all human and not perfect by definition!

  • Nesrin on Aug 26, 2014 Reply

    Oh I love this post. I started off my life in Club Med Mode, then moved into Boot Camp mode, then oscillated between the 2 and now like to think of myself as spending the majority of my time in Yoga Retreat mode. A very healthy place. Of course I have the ability of Boot Camp or Club Med, but they would now come from an empowered state of choice – e.g. I want to do a bit of boot camp right now, or I want to be in club med mode. Rock on Yoga Retreat as a healthy lifestyle choice.

    • Hiba on Aug 26, 2014 Reply

      Thank you for your feedback Nesrin! I like what you write about being able to call on the Boot Camp or Club Med mode when you need but spending most of your time in Yoga Retreat mode :) That is the ideal for me too!

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