The definition of health is simply the state of being free from illness or injuries. Many people can easily click those two items off the list and declare themselves in control of the health and fitness equation. But is that really enough?
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Jesse Itzler in his book Living with a Seal made his own observation on the topic of health and fitness: “I have another philosophy. You can be fit without being healthy, but you can’t be healthy without being fit. Meaning, you can be in great shape on the outside, but if you don’t eat great and don’t take care of your insides, you aren’t necessarily healthy.”
Here’s an example. You are out with friends enjoying a wonderful dinner and you decide to pass on the dessert. Everyone at the table is doing their very best to encourage you to indulge. One of your friends makes the comment, “Come on, you can get away with eating the cake. You are in such great health.”
With the holiday season upon us, this topic is especially relevant as we navigate the minefields of goodies and treats presented with cheer at parties and family gatherings.
Health and Fitness Equation
Fitness means being in good physical shape and capable of performing a specific task. The catch is a person can hydrate, sleep and rest and appear to be healthy and fit. But they’ve failed to eat properly, which is an essential part of the health and fitness equation.
Many times, the confusion starts with how we associate the terms fitness and health. In an article written by James Wilson, Why Being Fit to Ride a Bike Doesn’t Mean you are Healthy, he states, “We think that just because you have the fitness to ride a bike that you must also be healthy. However, these two terms mean very different things and the fact that most of us don’t know the difference leads to a lot of problems.”
The problem starts when people equate activity with being healthy and the lack thereof with being unhealthy. Dr. Philip Maffetone in his book The Endurance Handbook says in recent studies athletes can be fit but unhealthy in all sports, both men and women in every age group including professionals.
Take Charge of Your Health
The truth is each of us needs to take complete charge of our health and fitness. Each of us intuitively knows what we need to do to maintain optimal health. We simply need to listen to the little voice in us and become obsessed with giving our bodies a fighting chance to maintain a state of homeostasis.
Living in a state of health is a lifestyle and requires daily diligence. Let’s take a look at a few areas that are critical to our overall best health.
Set a Goal in Each of These Seven Areas
- Strive for adequate sleep. Most adults are terribly deficient in this area.
- Eat plenty of the good stuff, including fruits, vegetables, and yes, meats and healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts and seeds.
- Avoid processed food at all costs.
- Pay attention to hydration. Drink plenty of water and minimize caffeine-heavy beverages that actually dehydrate the body.
- Restrict or remove alcoholic beverages from your diet.
- Never go on a diet. The results are almost always temporary. Rather, adopt healthy eating as a lifestyle. The weight loss will follow.
- Minimize undue stress in your life to the best of your ability. Practice meditation or take a yoga class to help unwind.
4 Easy Ways to Get Started
- Move your body every day; not every other day or three days a week, but every day. Even a 20-minute walk can make a difference.
- Do strength workouts to support healthy muscles, joints and bones.
- Learn how to breathe properly. Pay special attention to your breathing during fitness activities and seeking the deep, cleansing breaths of meditation in your down time.
- Work on mobility. Flexibility, agility and balance are critical components that require proactive training as we age. Try standing on one foot while you brush your teeth to start working on balance skills.