This article has been written by Ashwini Mavinkurve and was first published here.
Through all my articles as a part of this blog, my intention has always been to simplify fitness (not oversimplify) and make it accessible to everyone like me. Though I have been explicitly discussing what fitness encompasses, I have come to realize that in today’s world of information flood, it’s easy to lose objectivity. The brain finds it easy to process information that is presented to it systematically and with the right words – so I talk about something that is as important as knowing “What Fitness is?”I have tried to cover relevant aspects of this topic in different articles I have published before but here I bring together what has been said and left unsaid.
Essentially, ‘fitness’ is NOT:
Always represented completely by the amount of weight lost:
A very healthy person may carry slightly more or less weight than a person suffering from an illness (perfect weight that is). Also, someone with high muscle mass and bone density may look leaner and toned than someone with a lower weight. I weigh the same for the last 6 years but people who have seen me know the difference. NO, I am not drastically THINNER or FATTER but I am definitely stronger, more toned, more flexible, and more positive than I was 6 years ago. What does that say about our reliance on the scale that does not provide you a complete picture?
Our bodies are way more complex than the weighing scale can decipher and we need to rely on more robust indictors to really understand if a healthy lifestyle is working for us or not. Some of them being – the sync with our hunger signals, sleep quality, increase in stamina, strength, ability to take up new tasks on a daily basis and complete them with renewed zeal, fearlessness when it comes to food, confidence in one’s judgments about the quantity and type of food consumed, etc.
An expensive affair:
The funny and sad part about what “fitness” has translated to is that to remain fit you need a hefty monetary investment. You definitely need to invest heavily, but not monetarily, you need to invest your time and attention to your body, to understand that it needs nutrition, exercise, sleep, and constructive challenges. Good health does not demand you to invest in detox teas, supplements, exotic, foreign grown fruits and vegetables (could, in fact, do more harm to you & the environment than good, more on that later), an expert, expensive gym equipment and memberships. All it needs is the “Intention”, the intention to not wallow in self-pity arising from the lack of unnecessary resources, but grateful manifestation of all the abundance that you are blessed with. The food that is cooked at home, seasonal fruits and vegetables that are grown around you, and sold by a local vendor, a simple pair of shoes, and anything that can add safe weights (for challenging exercises) are enough to get you fit.
A weapon for sabotaging your self-esteem:
I write about this all the time. Whatever I share with you, and whatever other information you are exposed to every day, your aim should be to pick up the positives, the changes that you know you can execute immediately and start off. It is by no means a sacrosanct mandate for you to assess your self-worth against. When you are running a marathon, you have 100’s of people running past you, do you risk an injury and try running faster than your training pace or do you understand that you have come a long way from where you started and maintain your pace till you are ready to pick? If your answer is anything other than option 2, you know what I am talking about. I have seen really close friends succumb to this unrealistic self-sabotaging mission that they set out on. In fact many times in the past, I would stop working out because I noticed I wasn’t observing significant results and would feel terrible about it. As cliché as it may sound, everyone gets better with consistency and dedication, I know I got better and I know you will too. Just do not give up at the first, second… nth sign of failure (your perspective of failure, because research proves that a good lifestyle brings about immediate positive changes in the body) and do not let anything dull your self-esteem, do not attach it to anything.
Overtraining or Deprivation
The outcomes of this one are scary and I had to talk about this somewhere. I have read of young girls who have lost their periods, people who have seriously injured themselves or fallen sick either due to depriving their bodies of the necessary nutrients of overtraining a particular muscle group without any recovery. A very important principle to apply to ensure you do not fall prey to any of these is “Sustainability”; say you are gifted a lifespan of 85 years, ask yourself if you will be able to continue depriving yourself or overtraining your body till the end of your life?
The answer is definitely NO. Why would you or anyone want to live a life that does not support their dreams and goals? Because a life of deprivation and overtraining does not leave you with the ability or energy to do much.