Alright, let’s get it over with. The dreaded F-word that so many of us try to avoid like the plague until we finally succumb to it. You know, the word that you toss around once or twice a year. That evil little word that we have such a love/hate relationship with almost daily. Let’s talk about fitness, ladies and gents.
For most of us, when we think about fitness, we think about physique. We visualise a fit body, maybe one of a celebrity, a body that is dedicated to the gym for an hour a day, seven days a week, and has a diet that borders the edge of perfection. When we hear the F-word, it is almost always a materialistic image that pops into our heads. Typically the word fit coincides with the phrase “I’ve gotta get in shape”. As if shape should be the one and only concern all of us has. And we will kill ourselves to try to reach our idea of “fit”:
- We will starve ourselves with what we think is a perfect diet.
- We will analyse every cellulite piece and every single fat roll until our body image is non-existent.
- We will spin our wheels unit we are burnt out on the gym and a rabbit diet with a designated cheat meal or day each week.
It’s amazing how our bodies can have an outward appearance that is not concerning at all, but our insides can be a ticking time bomb. When your body lacks nutrition and is highly overworked on cardio machines in the gym, running for an hour a day is the only way to lose weight. NOT, it is far from a Fit body. A body has to work extra hard just to keep you moving every day because it doesn’t have enough energy to work efficiently.
Let’s change our outlook on the F-word. What is at the core of being fit? What does proper raw fitness look like? I can tell you it isn’t pretty at all. But it is healthy. In fact, healthy is a synonym for the word fit in a dictionary. And according to experts, fitness includes both your well being physically and mentally. PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY! Rewind to your original image of fit, does this match the description?
Breaking this definition into two parts, I want to look at the physical aspect first. There are 5 physical fitness components or parts: flexibility, cardio endurance, muscular endurance, muscular strength, and body composition. If you or I are weak in one of these areas, we can deem ourselves physically unfit. The good news is, it’s never too late to start working on your physical fitness. To increase your flexibility, you can do easy stretches or yoga poses in less than ten minutes a day. For increased cardio endurance, you can walk, jog, run, swim, bike, or do any other exercise that keeps your heart rate elevated for 30 minutes or more 2-3 times a week. To keep your muscular endurance in check, you can hold the exercise for a certain amount of time or keep your muscles contracted for a certain amount of time. Some examples would be a 60-second plank or wall sit or holding light weights out in front of you until failure. Muscular strength is the typical weight lifting with dumbbells or plates. If you work on these components, your body composition, or percentage of fat, bone, and water, will be altered to your benefit. All of these can be worked on from the comfort of your own home or at a gym. I tend to go in phases where I will work out at home with my body weight and light dumbbells for weeks, then I get bored and head to the gym for classes or heavier weights and a treadmill. Once you have mastered the F-word components, you will be stronger, and you will be adding years to your life–active years at that!
Now for the second half of the fit definition, mentally fit. This is a bit trickier because every person has a different idea of what being mentally fit looks like. But, I will speak based on what I know. That is that mentally sound means being able to relax your mind and let go of negative thoughts. This can be done through reflection time, journaling time, meditation, prayer, whatever works best for you. It is different for each person. What’s important is that you find a way and commit to it DAILY! This will be a lifesaver. I personally like to set my day by getting up quite early every morning and having quiet time with a cup of coffee. I take deep breaths, do a bit of inspirational reading and journaling, then I sit with myself. This works for me. You may find it more beneficial to end your day by relaxing your mind. Or, you might do both! Again, it’s just essential that you take a little time to let go of those negative thoughts. When you begin to do this, you will start to see your body, muscles, and organs and appreciate them. You will begin to positively see yourself. You will start to take pride in yourself. The mental aspect is challenging. It takes practice and patience. You will know that it is difficult to turn your brain off and just relax. Still, it eventually happens, and the benefits are priceless!
The goal of being FIT should be to be able to live functionally for as long as possible. To reach that goal, we should not forget that our brain plays a huge role in us living a long, healthy, functional life. Therefore, being mentally fit should take precedence over being physically fit. If you are in the right state mentally, you cannot be in a lousy condition physically. If you are in the right state mentally, you will love yourself. When you love yourself, you will take care of your body and treat it with the proper respect it needs.
I want to encourage you to take control of your fitness. Set a goal for yourself that for the next 7 days, you will work on your mental wellness and physical fitness. Dedicating just 5 minutes a day will create tremendous results. The day before tomorrow is always the best day to start.