Have you ever looked up to someone because they are Fit? Have you ever been envious of a person because of their high level of fitness or their ability to crank out pull ups in their sleep? Have you looked at a extremely muscular body and just though, wow I wish I was that in shape? I’m sure most of us can answer yes to any or all of those questions. However have you ever taken a moment to think about your health? In fact have you ever considered the difference between being fit and being healthy? A overly muscular person or a person that can run a marathon at a record setting pace isn’t necessarily a model of good human health.
It is a puzzling concept to wrap ones mind around, that is the separation between being fit and healthy. Yes both of these terms can coexist, but rarely do they. We usually see extreme ends of the spectrum (or even more often we see neither in our obese U.S. culture) such as the guy that is all muscle and can bench 300 pounds but drinks muscle milk like water and looses his breath walking up stairs. To put it in perspective lets look at the typical endurance athlete. Yes they are very fit, they can run bike and swim for endless miles and have a very lean musculature. However what we see on the outside does not reflect what is happening on the inside. Often do these high intensity athletes fuel their workouts with highly inflammatory sugar based nutrition and their workouts are very one dimensional (opposing muscle groups are neglected). Many chronic health issues arise later in life with these athletes due to the fact that they are blinded by performance. When you are focused on performing well in your respective discipline it is easy to look past the long term effects you are sacrificing on your health. Also, if you looked in the mirror and saw the body you wanted to see (abs and defined biceps), regardless of your diet, you would not think that you were un-healthy. That is because looks are very convincing. Yes, being lean is a key to health and much better for you than being obese, but it is only one of the factors that play into being fully healthy.
To me being healthy is finding a balance in nutrition, fitness and well being. Just like anything else, moderation is key, it is the driving force behind my health. Like endurance athletes, I love to train (for climbing) but unlike your standard endurance athlete my regimen is not solely results based. It is nice to see performance improvements but it is not so nice to reach those results by sacrificing other aspects of your life. Train based on how your body is feeling. Are you trashed sore and low on energy from the previous days workout? If so will you scarf down a bunch of pre workout junk, sugar and caffeine just to keep on track in order to achieve results come game time? Or is it a better idea to take a cue from your body that day and take care of your health instead of your fitness for a day?
In order to find a moderate balance between health, fitness and well being you must first pick your priorities and determine how significant they are to your life. Is looking like a Greek god today and running as far as a wild horse worth sacrificing the future of your knees and nervous system? On certain days I will have a extra cup of coffee in order to climb a extra route or to add a couple more pounds to my pull ups. I will add a little more calories to my diet on those days to recover or maybe treat my self to homemade cookies and ice cream. However that is my moderation because in order to balance my well being and mental heath, I have realized how much I love to climb and how much I love to train for it. Drinking moderate amounts of coffee (instead of pre workout junk) and occasionally treating my self to Jill’s homemade baked goods keeps everything in check. I know what my priorities are and I know how my choices in the gym will affect my overall health. By being conscious of these decisions keeps my mental well being high which in turn keeps my dietary and physical habits sustainable. I am not as fit as a Olympian and I don’t eat as perfect as Jack Lalanne, but I am happy since I can see physical results in my training while maintaining a sustainable healthy lifestyle while feeling great.