Fitness is the easy part.
Not sacrificing your health in the process — that’s harder.
It’s often this sacrifice that makes many of the goals we set unsustainable and short-lived (such as trying to get unnaturally lean and/or vigorous “running everyday” type training).
When we go against our health and own well-being by chasing crazy ideals (often set by the media), we pay the price.
The thing is, though, no one is going to tell us to stop chasing 6 pack abs or world records in Crossfit (and no one should). What we should be talking, however, is all the dangerous roads that people take to achieve those end outcomes.
What we should be discussing is….
“For everything you have lost, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There are no shortcuts in life and this especially true for our own health and fitness.
We like to think there is a pill we can take or that we if do an extreme 4, 8, or 12 week diet & exercise program that we can achieve our super hero body, but it just doesn’t work like that.
Change – both mentally and physically – is slow.
We know that, but we don’t really want to acknowledge it.
When the pills and the diets and the extreme workouts do manage to work, it is short-lived. Short-lived because our metabolism is wrecked and our hormones are shot and the overall stress load we have put ourselves is just too much to be able to recover from.
Those images you see of models in magazines and even body builders at the day of their show, that’s not real. They are water depleted, mega-tanned, pumped up, and only a couple days away from re-gaining back multiple pounds.
This is just how it is: Easy come, easy go.
Sure, there are body builders, models, and other freaky deeky athletes that do it right. For them, it is real and that’s how they look and perform almost all the time.
This elite group shares one common thread: Change slowly.
For them, there are no start-and-stop diets ( just a diet that they continually stick with). And
for them, there is no sudden burst of activity followed by months of Seinfeld on the couch (just a way of moving that they enjoy and fits in with their lifestyle).
Progress is slow but so is regress. [Note: And when regress is slow, you can do more normal human stuff like eat ice cream and not have to worry about it.]
I can honestly say I am now apart of this group, however, it was not always like this.
Truth is, Cara and I have done the whole “get fit quick” scheme.
The results? We got fit but it didn’t stick.
Not only didn’t it stick, but we both had to work smarter afterwards to regain the health we lost.
You see, when you are mentally fuzzy and your libido is non-existent and your constantly constipated and your even neurotic about every little calorie you consume, that’s what it means to lose health.
And that’s what many of us sacrifice in an attempt to get 6 pack abs or any other goal that is deemed extreme.
Now, I am not saying that you cannot get (and keep) a 6 pack. I’m just saying your time-frame and the amount of work you think will be involved is unrealistic.
Truth is, it will not be quick. Nor will it be easy. And if it is either of those, it will not be sustainable.
Same goes for our athletic performance (e.g going from the couch to training 5 times a week is recipe for pain and injury).
K. Good. Getting back on track.
I started this post with the idea I was going to answer this question: “Realistically, how fit should we be?”
This late in the ballgame, I am still unsure.
What I am sure about, however, is this:
- Your quest for fitness shouldn’t come at the sacrifice of your health.
- If you commit to slow change, you could prevent the above from happening.
- If your persist onward towards fast, radical change, you’ll get burned out (and probably end up fatter than before).
In the end, the body always beats the mind.
Don’t put things on it that it can’t handle or doesn’t want.
We never win.