The fitness equation, how does health fit in?

The fitness equation, how does health fit in?

We are coming up to the time of the year when New Year's resolutions spread across the world's population like wildfire. I have to admit there’s something about the start of a new calendar year that makes you take stock. Perhaps it’s the fact that during the holiday season people slow down at work, begin taking some time for themselves and family, in turn, provides clarity. On the other hand, it could be a result of the common excessiveness the holiday season encourages. I’m talking about food (mince pies, yep), drink (please) and socialising (friends and family - for better or worse!) all of which take their toll.

Whatever the reason, Jan 1st is the start of a new year and the opportunity to start afresh.

‘The Fitness Equation’, it’s a lofty title so what do I mean and why is it relevant to your goals for the New Year? I suspect you’re also wondering why I separate fitness and health? Surely, if you’re fit you're healthy? Let’s explore.

Modern society can be very end-result driven, certainly, in the health industry we are exposed to beautifully toned bodies, awesome strength, endurance, crazy aesthetic achievements, and captivating tales of reclaimed youth and vigour.

The problem is that the ‘journey’ gets ignored when the end product becomes the sole focus. When this happens we can get lost and not pay attention to what our bodies and minds require. Focusing on an end product make us impatient and distorts perspective; as such a poor workout can become something that delivers negativity into our day.

I believe you should have goals, I write frequently on the benefits of setting them as they are really important to help structure the journey. I argue that to compliment goals it should be the training journey that we truly focus on, it is the journey that is ultimately transformational.

By that I mean demonstrating that you can grit your teeth and show up week in week out, commit to building new habits, change your mental perspective and learn to love your body. The end product is like a rainbow, we can never really get to the end because when you achieve a goal you often find that it’s merely stepping stone to a bigger one.

A typical internal monologue from a fitness enthusiast could be:

“Great! I’ve lost the 1 stone in 2 months I’ve always wanted to do this, but now I want to get down to my pre-baby weight, X looks great, I need to look like X”

“I’m so happy I ran my first 10k, but I reckon I could do it faster, I wish I’d run faster this time. I’m going to try a half marathon, that’s it, then I’ll really have achieved something”

Don’t get me wrong achieving the initial goal is a fantastic outcome, but an outcome is merely the end product of a process and the process is actually the end product!

Why am I talking about this in terms of fitness and health?

In the past I’ve been so focused on the goal that I’ve pushed myself to break point, I’ve gone through multiple layers of fatigue, been seriously overtrained (where my nervous system's shot, I can’t sleep, feel emotional and unwilling to train). What pushed me on was the goal, I was scared I was going to lose the goal if I took a day off or didn’t hit my prescribed exercise rep range.

Why? Because it meant a lot to me, I’d invested my entire being in the goal and tied it to my sense of worth. I’m the first to admit I’ve achieved many fitness goals at the expense of my health and in turn I have learnt some valuable lessons from my mistakes.

It is handy to represent some of my thoughts as a list, so below I’ve outlined some approaches that will build high levels of fitness but not at the expense of health. Take a look and let me know which ones you are ignoring or found useful.

Tailoring

An exercise/training regime needs to fit the individual. It needs to be flexible when life gets in the way and it needs to adapt as the individual grows.

Restriction

You can’t outrun excess, and the old mantra ‘everything in moderation’ is applicable here. By all means, do some high intensity but should it be every session?

Aerobic Health

Most people don’t have the patience to build a true aerobic base. Aerobic training is where fat the primary fuel, is one of the most therapeutic forms of exercise out there. By training to develop your aerobic engine you will help correct muscle imbalances, develop better oxygenation of the muscles and develop speed without adrenal fatigue.

Deloading

I know that ideally, you should never need to deload. However, sometimes it’s good to overreach in your training, and it then should be followed by a period of time where you cut volume and recover. This will allow you to continue to peak but without overtraining.

Move often

Make movement a daily practice, make changes to your environment to aid this, walk more, sit on the floor, go into the toilet cubicle and stretch! Sitting is a stress and it will negatively affect your training. Download my FREE ebook to start a daily movement practice (only 5 mins needed each day)

Eat properly

nutrition is the basis of health, if you have a healthy approach to food you’ll reduce systemic inflammation, have better body composition and have more energy.

Sleep

Such a big one, it has been my greatest nemesis in the past and is something I still battle with. Don’t train hard after a poor nights sleep. Get as much sleep as you can because this is where the real work is done.

Measure Your Wellbeing

The least sexy but most satisfying. It's also the hardest to sell because it's difficult to photograph

Enjoy the journey!!!!

See each session as an end in and of itself, feel satisfied that you are taking control and you are the one in the driving seat. It is well known that happiness is a direct correlate to an individual's sense of control over their own life.

You have control, sometimes we just need a bit of guidance and system.

To finish, why am I talking in terms of an equation? Fitness is the sum of many inputs, however, to become fit the inputs don't have to be healthy ones, as long as the goal is achieved you are ‘fit’ enough to achieve it. But it doesn’t mean you are healthy.

For example, we all seen hundred of people complete marathons but at the expense of their joint or heart or nervous system health.

Here’s a better equation:

Fitness + Health = lifelong performance

If you're struggling with health even though you’ve committed yourself to BIG fitness goals such as a tough mudder, marathon, competitive bodybuilding, or triathlon it could be because you’ve not balanced your training and added health into the equation. Love your body, love yourself and love training.



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