What Fitness (and Health) Really Looks Like

We all know what fitness looks like right? I don’t think I have to tell you what healthy looks like either. As a fitness professional, I don’t have to tell you because the media takes care of that for me. You’ve seen the commercials so you know that to be fit means to get up at 5am and strap yourself to the latest Fit-Zapper 3000 and run through the trails as the morning dew glistens off the blades of grass. Don’t forget to run those last few yards to your house in slow motion (like they do on TV) finally collapsing in a pool of sweat on the front stairs… I think if you have the theme from Rocky playing in the background it burns more calories too! Or how about going to the gym in your new $200 Under Armour workout gear and “pump iron” in front of the mirror as you and the boys try out for the biceps team… that’s GOT to be what fitness is all about no? Well, if not, then surely walking on the treadmill in your Lulu lemons while posting selfies on social media is what fitness looks like?

If you’re new to the whole “I wanna get fit and lose weight” thing then it can all get overwhelming on where to start, and what to believe and not believe. Ok… it’s time to talk some truth about what fitness really is-and isn’t and how to achieve it for 2016:

  1. Fitness isn’t what you see on TV. Forget the ads, forget the commercials. They want to sell you something and they use fitness models or professional athletes to do it. Don’t compare yourselves to these people because you-and myself included-are not fitness models or athletes. Fitness models and athletes have a team of coaches, nutritionists and trainers (not to mention Photoshop) to help them 24/7. You and I do not have all that so stop comparing yourself because it’s not healthy and not realistic.

You are you and all the good times you’ve had in life, you’ve had in YOUR body. All the bad times you’ve had, you’ve gotten through it in YOUR body. YOUR body is capable of some amazing things so no matter the size or shape, how many warts, freckles or pimples… love the body you have. I’m willing to bet someone already loves you just the way you are so why can’t you?

  1. Fitness isn’t found in the latest gadgets. Stop worrying about keeping up with the latest trends, equipment and sportswear; it’s a chase that will never end! You need two things to get healthier, stronger and fitter–your body and gravity-and both are FREE. I know that if I’m tired in the morning then I didn’t get enough sleep. I know that if I am breathing heavy during exercise then I’m exercising at the right intensity (I don’t need the latest gizmo or app to tell me that) and that I’m as likely to see health gains in my $5 Walmart t-shirt as I am wearing Nike when I exercise.. Hey, if having the latest and greatest motivates you to keep moving then great, a lot of people really benefit from that and I’m not knocking it at all, but my point is, if you are just starting out then you don’t NEED it.
  2. Your diet has a name… Really?? Paleo diet, Atkins diet, The Abs diet, The Zone diet… the list could go on. Keep it simple and don’t give your diet a name. Eat more fruit and vegetables and a little less chocolate cake and chips. If you want to lose weight then you have to eat a little less than what you are eating now. The formula hasn’t changed and that formula is Calories In must be less than Calories Out to lose weight.

There are no foods that are off limits (actually there are—don’t eat furniture, staples or carpeting-everything else is fine… in moderation) and please… don’t get your nutritional information from 1-sentence headlines. You know the ones; “Latest study finds bacon will cause cancer” Let me quote an article from Precision Nutrition and Dr. James Heathers. He said “… when you realize that your chance of dying from that horrible cancer-type thing without bacon (or broccoli) is only 1 in 100,000 (or 0.00001 percent). And that a 10 percent increase from eating bacon (or broccoli) means your chance rises to 1.1 in 100,000 (or 0.000011 percent).

Meh.

Since we’re all going to die anyway, medical scare tactics simply don’t come off as scary (especially when you know what the data really mean). Nor do they motivate change”.

Trust me, stay away from the 3 items on my Never Eat list, stick to healthy portion sizes and try to fit in more fruits and veggies and you’ll be fine. You are more apt to scare yourself to death from reading the headlines than you are from any ill effects from eating the things the headlines are trying to steer you away from.

  1. “No Pain No Gain”. LOL… or how about this one from Jillian Michaels “Unless you puke, faint or die, keep going” No wonder people have a misconception of what getting fit is really all about, and wonder how they could ever achieve it. Really Jillian? How about using this quote instead “Listen to your body to avoid injury” Do you want to live longer so you can be around to play with the grandkids? Then just start moving.

To see great improvements in health, you only need a minimum of 30 minutes of activity a day… and they don’t even have to be consecutive minutes. Sure, it’s better if you can block off 30 minutes for yourself but if you only have 10-15 minutes in the morning and another 10-15 at night, you are good to go. Don’t have time or money for a gym? Then don’t go! Go for a walk, throw the ball around with the kids, play fetch with the dog. How about dancing in your living room when your favourite song comes on the radio or TV? Just move for 30 minutes a day and you’ll be doing the right things if you want to lower your cholesterol, improve your blood pressure, maintain your range of motion, ensure your joints and bones are healthy and so many more benefits.

  1. Variety. Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder even sang about it when they recorded “Variety and Ivory live together in perfect harmony” or something along those lines. There’s more to maintaining your health than jogging or lifting weights. Did you know you’ll do like 1000x more for your body if you just did some stretching in front of the TV for 30 minutes than if you just sat on the couch? And it hardly takes any energy at all. Or how about spending 30 minutes doing some hobby you enjoy—there’s more stress relief in that activity than spending an hour at the gym. Health isn’t always about sweat and blood (well, it should never be about blood) but you do need a little Yin to your Yang.

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