So the last time we were talking about the differences between health and fitness from a standpoint of nutrition with a little bit of exercise, but now let’s really get into the weeds about your nutrition habits and why the diet you were eating so healthy before may not cover all of your FITNESS GOALS at the same time.
When you boil it down to brass tacks, fitness is really all about performance.
Can you increase performance or maintain performance while eating less calories than you burn?
Can you increase your performance to elite levels and still remain healthy?
The answer is well, maybe, that’s the case with a lot of things in fitness. Somethings tend to be great for a short while and some things tend to be absolutely useless, just like those internet challenges to do 250 repetitive bodyweight squats in a 30 day period by increasing your reps by 5 reps every day.
And somethings can be downright harmful. It simply depends on what you’re looking for in regards to fitness. If that’s just a slimmer waist line and some shapely muscles it’s not that hard to attain. If you’re looking to compete in a physique show or be the All Star Hockey player, you may have to sacrifice a bit more of your health for performance.
When we’re talking about performance this is your money maker when you want to get seriously lean and fit; however, just because these fitness goals emphasize performance doesn’t mean that you will necessarily have a healthy body. Now, believe me it helps to be healthy in terms of approaching your goals, but in certain instances it is actually unhealthy to be at certain points in your fitness career.
Take bodybuilding for example. Sure, everyone thinks you’re healthy, you eat very clean, you train hard, but at certain times of the year you get really low in body fat for a competition to be as lean as possible, while holding onto as much muscle mass as possible. To get this low in body fat the athletes must dehydrate themselves and fool their bodies into “shrink wrapping” the muscles underneath the skin with manipulating their macronutrients, water and sodium intake. The whole process is very scientific, but it is risky for some people.
At the higher levels of competition it is even more dangerous, because these athletes are taking steroids and other drugs to help maintain their physiques while dieting down to those extremely low levels of body fat. This is obviously unhealthy and yet they look great (to some people).
Yet to get to any level of high performance sacrifices must be made. It all depends on what you want.
Look at the Olympic athletes, these athletes train harder than anyone on the planet. They are willing to sacrifice anything for a Gold medal. In fact many are willing to admit that they would take a risky performance enhancing drug if they could win the Gold Medal, even if the drug would cause death after five years of using it.
People are strange creatures at times. We are willing to do anything to accomplish those goals that we truly desire. What do you truly desire? Can it be attained without risking your health?
The Solution to this Unhealthy Level of Performance
Now knowing the difference between fitness and health you can make a clear cut decision, because you can have the best of both worlds, but the key lies with how you go about it. That way you can fall somewhere in the middle of the fitness-health-performance continuum without being too far to one side (see below picture).
And let’s not kid ourselves, there is a way to be fit and healthy, but to do that you have to abstain from doing all those crazy, stupid things that you’ve been thinking are so healthy. Let’s go through a short list of things that will prevent you from reaching your fitness goals that aren’t necessarily all that healthy either.
-Stop eating the junk for one. You can get away with having some junky treats once a week, but any more than that and you’re just asking for trouble. And I’m not just talking about the caramel macchiato that you have on a daily basis. I’m talking the sweets, the bread, the run of the mill grain products that are also unhealthy for you. They’re not going to do your waist line any good either.
-Stop thinking your immune to the benefits of exercise. Any exercise you get during the day is good, but too much is not any better. There’s a good balance of exercise and rest. Push yourself hard and intensely, but ensure to take a couple of rest days to recover every now and again.
-If you’re overweight, set goals and start working towards reducing your body fat. For a time it may be appropriate for you to eat for performance and not just for “health”. Short spurts of performance based goals will get you where you need to be faster, without compromising your health. After all being obese or overweight is seriously unhealthy.
-Take care of your hygiene and rest. Floss, stay hydrated, keep yourself looking good, get enough sleep and you will feel better and be able to perform optimally.
-If in doubt with your nutrition eat a good hunk of protein and some veggies. You can’t go wrong here. All the necessary vitamins and minerals the body needs can be gained from these types of foods. Stick with these and throw out all the silly carbs everyone loves. If it tastes really good, don’t eat a lot of it. If it tastes bland, eat a lot of that.
-Water, well yeah, duh. Drink it. Non-calorie beverages such as coffee and tea are great too.
So there you have a short list to consider when you’re trying to get fitter, while maintaining your health at the same time. You can still be fit and healthy, just don’t think that everything you do is benefiting your health at the same time. Keep things really simple folks. Exercise, eat less carbs, eat more protein and fats, get your rest, find ways to de-stress.