Well my friend it’s time to visit the fitness question again. If you are familiar with my blogs in the past I have weighed in on the “best” kinds of exercises often. The true answer to the “best “question is always “It depends on what you are trying to achieve!”
As a brief review, stuff that works for weight loss may not be the best for aesthetics. Stuff that works for endurance is not going to get you “big” and stuff that is centered on “anti-aging” is not necessarily the best for ANY of the rest of it.
So this now begs the question: what is fitness!
Rather than go into some long winded diatribe that parrots the experts in the field, I will keep it simple.
True fitness is something that allows you to do more of what you want to do with greater ease and nourishes your body in the process.
As you can see we are back to the “it depends” scenario but let me give you some practical interpretations.
A young testosterone driven male is focused on totally different things than a mother who is trying to lose “baby weight”. One might say that endurance exercise is worthless if you can’t even bench press your body weight. The other might say what good is all that specific strength if you can’t climb a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing.
Gee! Wouldn’t it be great if you could do both!!!
Of course you can and maybe should but let’s look a little bit closer and pick a way to decide what fitness really is, understanding that any definition is incomplete artificial and will probably change depending on what stage of life you are in and maybe even more importantly, how much time you have to spare.
But first let me tell you about a dream I had!
I dreamed I was running miles and miles along some city streets and country roads. I am sure I was into the run for at least 20, probably 30 miles. It was fun, in my dream- I was enjoying it. Then reality set in. Much like a lucid dream I started realizing this was “another me”- a dream me. All of a sudden I realized I was carrying a heavy pack and did not know quite how to make it comfortable. No matter I thought, this is fun! Well then somehow my car magically appeared and I decided to put the heavy pack in the car and come back for it later. Nice to be without this burden or so it seemed.
Then I realized I was actually pretty tired and had run enough. “I’ll do a longer run down the road soon.”, I reasoned. Well you can probably guess that the next step in the dream was to sit in the car, turn the key and drive away!
Wow that felt nice!
I guess the point is that where reality and the dream world met I had the personal revelation that while running long distances WAS fun at one point in my life, the cost of doing it was no longer worth the reward. I guess you could say, “Been there done that!”
What does this have to do with fitness you may ask, especially for you personally.
My point is your goals, needs, and enjoyments change. Allow that to be and be mindful of how that may impact your fitness in this current moment.
I always believed that doing what worked before was a sure fire way to get where I had been. The problem is that in spite of my many and successful efforts at staying young, my body has changed.
I tolerate sleep deprivation less. Alcohol and carbohydrates and I do not get along any more- at all.
I need an extra day to rest and “doubles” (where I do an endurance workout and a strength workout in the same day) are generally not productive. Viz a viz my dream, I also know that I would not be able to go from running a few miles a week to a 125K race in 8 months the way I did 8 years ago.
So once again how do we define fitness. Let’s face it most of us define it by past achievements. A long ultramarathon (yes there are short ones!) sets the bar pretty high. A couple of true one arm pull ups sets the bar pretty high. Benching 2 or 3 times your body weight sets the bar pretty high.
Before you look at and design your current program you need to truly ask if what you did in the past that got you into “the best shape of your life” is what you want now.
Personally I remember a moment when I was out on a 25 mile run and literally flying up the hills at the same pace I was able to handle on the flat. That felt amazing- amazing enough that I remember it as a specific moment or vignette if you will. But that was somewhere in training not several weeks later when I actually ran the 125K race. Frankly the whole experience while mentally amazing was physically bad for me. The sequelae lasted several years to be frank!
What about when I was “strong”? I honestly don’t remember how much weight was on the bar any more but it was enough to make the bar bend pretty significantly and it was way more than I weighed. But I doubt I could have done 5 pull ups and I was sore all the time.
Is that fitness?
Nowadays I am much more about the feeling good and doing things aspect of fitness. In the next blog I will get to the meat of the matter and tell you what I have learned from my adventures and misadventures.
Your health secret for the day and kinda your homework for the next installment is to answer the question, “What is it you really want from your body?” Keep in mind you can have it all- just not to the degree you probably want!
See you next time!