The fitness industry has done a great job at confusing the hell out of everyone with what they “should” be doing to stay “healthy”. Between the diets, shakes, quick fix workout programs, cleanses and empty promises its amazing anyone makes any long term healthy changes in their life. Unfortunately, most people find themselves stuck in a loop of successes and “failures” with program after program, diet after diet and every attempt gone wrong. Everyone ends up blaming themselves for these failures when the blame should fall on the diet and fitness industry. The fitness industry just simply isn’t doing a good job providing legit programs and information to promote the health and wellness of people buying their products and services.
People are sold BS promises marketed to appeal to their feelings of desperation. It’s wrong and flat out destructive. Telling people, they can lose X pounds in X days or that some shake or cleanse is the answer to their belly fat is a fucking joke and should be illegal. Yet, for some reason the fitness and diet industries are basically allowed to make false claims with no repercussions. While I can’t change the world and I can do my part to make it better and distribute sound, safe and legit information that promotes health. So here’s my two cents on getting healthy!
1. There is NO quick fix!
2. Cleanses are BS!
3. You can’t TONE up!
4. The scale DOESN’T matter!
5. Health comes in a variety of shapes and sizes!
6. Your fitness level and health aren’t always one in the same!
Okay you know I could make this list like 10 pages long, but for today we will start with these and address number six. Health and fitness aren’t always synonymous. I think we tend to lump those two terms together and believe they mean the same thing, and often they don’t.
It’s multifaceted. It encompasses your physical, mental, emotional, financial, relational, social and spiritual health. It has to do with your overall wellbeing. When it comes to physical health we can measure it with a variety of variables. Cholesterol, resting heart rate, blood pressure, occurrence of disease, sleep, hydration, daily activity, nutritional habits.
Being a healthy person is less about how much you can lift, how hard you punch and how many push-ups you can do and more about the state of your body’s vitals and your lifestyle habits. People can be healthy at a variety of sizes, weights and shapes. What is most important is that you are free of disease, have normal vitals and meet most healthy lifestyle habit criteria listed below.
1. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night
2. Drinking at least 64oz of water per day
3. Eating mostly nutritious foods
4. Eating veggies at every meal
5. Eating 3-4 meals per day that include a variety of proteins, carbs and fats
6. Moving your body daily (30 minutes of moderate intensity activity daily recommended)
7. Managing your stress
8. Not smoking
9. Honoring your hunger and fullness cues (aka mindful eating)
10. Drink in moderation
People that are healthy integrate these habits into their lives. If you take the time to develop these habits, your health should improve and your body will do what it’s suppose to do. It might not shrink down to the size of your dreams, but you most likely will live a longer, happier life.
The fitness industry would prefer you NOT focus on these habits as your way to stay healthy. Why? Well let’s be real none of that will make them money. They can’t sell you bars, shakes, programs or meal plans. Adopting those healthy habits puts the power back in your hands and takes it away form the diet/fitness world. It’s not easy to make these habits life long auto-pilot ways of living, but you can work on them slowly one baby step at a time and save yourself a shit ton of money as well as feelings of failure, disappointment and frustration.
FYI…you may want to smash the shit out of your scale and start gauging you progress on how consistently you are doing the 10 healthy habits listed above.
Then we have this concept of fitness. To me this has a different meaning than health. Fitness is about your strength, conditioning, stamina, flexibility, mobility, power, athleticism, etc. Yes, there are some measurable scales you can use to gauge your “fitness level” (VO2max, strength test, fitness assessments), but they aren’t necessary for the average person. Overall fitness has to do with developing some sort of physical conditioning.
You can be healthy and not in the “best shape of your life” if you adopt healthy habits but don’t train with a particular fitness goal in mind.
Being fit means you get in the gym, hit the track, etc. and train. When you are “working on your fitness” you are spending time developing some piece of athleticism. Some people love being fit and moving their bodies with a goal in mind. They love the skill of their chosen sport/activity, the feeling of sweating during an intense training session or the discomfort from pushing their bodies. While others simply don’t enjoy training or working out, but they may simply enjoy moving their bodies via walking, riding a bike, etc. It’s not good or bad, it just is.
(note…the nature of our lifestyles these days are pretty sedentary, so while to be healthy we don’t have to train like an athlete, we do need to make time to move our bodies)
Now the fitness industry wants you to feel like you have to pursue fitness. Why? Because they make a shit ton of money from you doing so. And then when what you are trying doesn’t work they way it is was promised to, you try something new and someone is making more money off of you. They want to guilt you into taking action. They convince you you have to lift, run, etc. When honestly it’s totally fucking up to you what you want to do. Yes, if you want to be “fit” you are going to need to hit the gym and get uncomfortable, but if you simply want to be healthy, head back up to those 10 habits.
One healthy habit is moving your body daily because that is part of health, but that doesn’t mean you have to head to the gym and kill it daily. Movement comes in all different forms. Walking, getting off the couch and moving around the house to do chores, manual labor, etc. No none of those activities will lead to a svelte body, but simply staying active will promote your health.
So what I am trying to say is heath and fitness aren’t the same thing. It’s important to stay focused on health, but you don’t have to focus on fitness and your focus may change during various stages of your life. The key is consistency. Consistent behaviors over time lead to success. You get to decide if fitness is your thing and what type of fitness you pursue. And if it isn’t your thing, just find some way to move your body regularly that you enjoy.
Above all else, don’t let the fitness industry tell you you must do _____ to be healthy if they are simultaneously trying to sell you something or a program. Buyers be ware! At Knockout Women’s Boxing Club there is no hard sell. If you want to come box with us, get strong and feel empowered, cool! If not, that’s cool too. I just want everyone, everywhere to build a healthy life. We don’t care what you weigh, how much you lift or how many calories you burn, we simply want you to enjoy life and get the most out of it.
Jessica Storch, MA is a boxing coach, personal trainer, health coach and owner of Knockout Women's Boxing Club in Westmont, IL. Her mission is to empower women to be their best through the sport of boxing. She promotes a health focused mentality and encourages women to let go of the diet mentality. Jessica believes weight loss doesn't equal health and works with women to support them in building healthy lifestyles and happy lives.