Health and fitness are bunched together most times, yet they are different things. You can be fit and unhealthy as easily as you can be healthy and unfit. But the concern today is the former, as a lot of us seem to find ways to get the fun fitness part done, but conveniently ignore the boring yet critical health part.
When most of us start working on our health, we tend to focus on both — that is, do things that promote fitness (exercise, sport, activity) and do things that promote health (nutritious food, sleep, hydration, breathing). But with time, as this becomes a part of life, we tend to sustain or even overdo the fitness side of things, while dropping the health-promoting acts. In other words, it’s very common to see people who work out or play a sport multiple days a week, pay no attention to nutrition, sleep, stress or life habits. Like work-life balance, we need to find a fitness-health balance too. How do you do that? Look at the big picture.
Most of us are short-sighted when it comes to health and only think a few months ahead. More often than not, the very reason we start looking into fitness and health is when we find the need to lose weight or when we’re part of a team or activity that requires a certain level of fitness. Since our goals are short-term, most of what we do is also sustainable only in the short-term.
Fitness is about ability and is something that can be increased or decreased in a few weeks. But health is the cumulative result of many years of behaviour. And behaviour here includes what you eat, how much you sleep, how active you are, how stressed out you get, how well you train and how positive and happy you are in general. It’s not something that can be fixed and forgotten. It’s something that needs to be thought about and worked on at all points of time during your life.
For example, if your idea of living a healthy life is exercising hard for an hour every day, eating clean but very little food and popping supplements, all while working a high-stress job, sleeping badly and overcompensating for the week’s discipline by binging and/or partying over the weekend, then you aren’t really becoming healthier. You’ll look fine and you’ll be able to do some cool things when you train or play, but your health is being compromised and it’s only a matter of time before you break.
The big picture is simple: you want to be as fit as you need to be and as healthy as you can be. Moderation is a term that comes to mind here but “optimisation” is the more relevant term.
What you’re looking for is that happy zone where you are both fit and healthy. Not compromising one for the other. This is a hard zone to find and that’s why ‘optimisation’ is what is on call.
So instead of doing more and more exercise or starving yourself silly trying to lose weight, what you need to focus on is plenty of general movement coupled with smart training, nutritious food, optimal sleep and minimal stress. Why? Because fitness and health need to be for life for them to matter. And fat loss? Well, that’s just a side effect of better health.