I am by no means a Doctor. But through a degree in Kinesiology and years of experience with people in the fitness industry, I am confident in my knowledge in the subject of health and what defines it from a practical stand point.
We have many different ideas of what “Healthy” is suppose to appear like. Shredded abs, toned legs, and flab-less arms are a few of the images that pop into our heads. We also hear about blood pressure, high-cholesterol, and other internal factors that we know can be unhealthy. Although some of these ideas are false, a lot of them are true. But I believe there is a little more to it than just what we commonly see or hear.
Let’s break health down into 3 different categories. I believe all 3 play a very important role in an individuals overall health, and each can be discussed individually. Although, as we will see, they all affect one another.
Moving & Moving Well
A Diet that Supports Health
Attitudes, Stress, & Enjoying Life
Moving & Moving Well.
We all know that exercise is important. But there seems to be a push for simply burning calories. If burning calories is our only goal in a workout, we are largely missing the point. Burning calories should be a mere by-product of our work. Overall health and fitness is much more than that. Greg Glassman says it well, “Develop the capacity of a novice 800-meter track athlete, gymnast, and weightlifter and you will be fitter than any world-class runner, gymnast or weightlifter.” Specializing in one of these three isn’t our goal in terms of health. But if we could develop the aerobic capacity is requires to be a runner, the strength and range of motion in our joints that it requires to be a weightlifter, and the body control and core strength that is requires to be gymnast, even at on a smaller scale than professionals, overall we will be very fit! To move well, we must be able to do all of these. Without range of motion, strength is not as impressive. Without being able to pick up something heavy and confidently, running a mile is not as impressive. Without being able to run a mile, doing a pull up is not as impressive. You get the point. Are we really healthy and fit if we have large holes in our capabilities? We must be able to move and move well, emphasis on “well”. Without learning to do things properly, when we move it is inefficient and we increase our risk for injury which is the opposite of healthy. Proper movement and range of motion isn’t the most flattering part of moving there is, which is why most people don’t prioritize it. But it’s more important and creates a healthier person that anyone who simply has shredded abs but lacks in understanding how to move well. Although, with a healthy diet, luckily you can achieve both!
A Diet that Supports Health.
Oh boy, this can get messy. Why is diet so complicated? There are hundreds of different diet plans and philosophies about what works best, so its no wonder that us average joes without a PHD in nutrition are so confused. Think of your diet a way to show how hard you have been working. Can you be healthy and not have abs and toned legs? Absolutely. But you are putting in a lot of work to move well and be healthy, why not eat in such a way that reveals that to everyone who sees you even outside the gym. Physique is achieved largely through your diet. Are carbs bad? No. Are fats bad? No. Are you eating enough protein? Probably not, but thats not why you aren’t losing weight. The simple fact of the matter is to lose weight and tone up, eat less calories than you burn. So simply put losing weight = eat less. “But I want to keep my muscle.” Thats a discussion for another day. Right now, lets prioritize weight loss. “But what about hormones?” “But what about starvation mode?” Forget it. Eat less. “But I swear I’m barely eating anything and i’m still not losing weight!” I don’t believe you. Remember a weekend of over eating & drinking by 2000-3000 calories (easy to do) will ruin a good week of dieting at a 500 calorie a day deficit and you will still gain weight or stay the same. The substance of your food does matter too. Externally, eating healthy, real food (food that expires a week or 2) is generally less calorie dense than other foods. So eating these foods allows to get full on less calories making it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. Internally, there are innumerable benefits to eating healthy foods. Weight loss, blood pressure, cholesterol, joint recovery, muscle recovery, brain health, skin health, and many others are all largely effected by what we eat. What are healthy foods exactly? Greg Glassman says it well again, “Eat Meat and Vegetables, Nuts and Seeds, Some Fruit, little Starch, and no Sugar.” Is this practical in every setting? No, i don’t think it is. But do this 80% - 90% of the time, and it will change your world. It comes down to a balance of controlling calorie intake while eating healthy foods. “Eating healthily is important! But even the healthiest diet in the world cannot save you from the ill-effects of a calorie surplus” - Dr. Spencer Nadolsky
Practical Tips for a healthy diet
Shop around the outside of grocery store, only purposefully walk the isles for specific food items
Don’t feel guilty over enjoying a great meal just because it wasn’t exactly in your food plan. But you can plan ahead!
Plan you “cheat meals"“. I only call them this because it helps you understand what I mean. If you know you are going to eat a large amount of calories that weekend or later that day, adjust you earlier meals to accommodate for the extra food you will eat later.
No snacking. Eat 3 meals a day, each with a good source of protein, carbs, and vegetables. Stick to that. Snacking in between is a quick way to pile up on calories.
Attitudes, Stress, and Enjoying Life.
We don’t talk about this one near as much, but I believe it is as important as any of the others. If you aren’t enjoying life to some extent and our life is strangled by stress and anger, are you really healthy? Even if you did have shredded abs and could squat clean 300#, an angry, stressed individual cannot be a healthy person. Luckily, exercise and diet are here to help! Stress is an inevitable part of life, but having a place to come forget about responsibilities and other stressors for an hour can make all the difference. I hear it more than anything else, “this gym is my place to come sweat and forget what I was stressed about. I come in stressed and leave feeling 100x better when I walk out as compared to when I walked in.” It’s a proven through trial fact, working out reduces stress. Diet does this as well. Diet effects our hormones which in turn effect our energy levels and mood. When we are moving well, energized, and in a good mood, it’s a lot easier to enjoy life.
How CrossFit is the answer.
Is CrossFit the be-all end-all of fitness and health? No. But does it touch all parameters of fitness and being healthy? You bet it does! 1 hour classes are just enough time to put in a good workout, yet not so long that it takes you away from your family and other important things in your life for long. You get to see your friends that you have made from pushing hard and becoming athletes beside since you started. Friendships = Happier people. Happier people = healthier people. You have a coach who cares about your fitness. Your coach is there to cheer you on, help you learn movements and move well (reference the “moving & moving well paragraph for importance). And, although we have no nutritionist on staff in the gym yet, we have resources freely available to you to get you on the right track with your diet. We care about you and your health.