It’s Not Only About Looks and Performance – Three Neglected Fitness Facts
“Mens sana in corpore sano” – a healthy mind in a healthy body, is a Latin phrase describing the mind-body connection that is nowadays often forgotten. Today, people are so obsessed chasing good-looking bodies, that they forget what’s the most important – health and longevity.
The other thing people obsess about is performance. While it’s good to be strong, fast, an ultra-marathon runner, it is even better to be all that while staying healthy. So even if performance is your goal, don’t bite off more than you can chew, and don’t ruin your body forever to shed half a second off your lap time.
Don’t get us wrong, looks do matter, so does the performance. However, in the raging epidemics of morbid obesity we have in the USA, and in the Western world in general, we need to get back to the drawing board and repeat to ourselves what matters. Here are three facts that are obvious, but neglected, that will remind you what matters and what doesn’t.
Fact #1: You don’t need crash diets to chase bikini bodies
Or any diets at all, you need a lifestyle fix. If you have 100 lbs more than you are supposed to have, doing something ridiculous like a “carrot diet’ will help you lose weight, but it won’t keep it off. Unless you are a rabbit, eating only carrots for life is not an option. Nothing against carrots, they are great for skin, eyes, rich in fiber and super low in calories. But you need to have a balanced diet if you want to succeed, longterm.
You need to change your diet for good. If you are 100+ lbs over the limit, self-control is not an option, you need to cut junk off your food. Let’s face it, if you open a bar of chocolate, you won’t take only one piece. So it’s much better to completely cut it off from your diet than to be constantly tempted to binge and torture yourself. So sweets and soda are off.
That’s your first step and the only thing you need. If you manage to stay off that junk for a month, you will notice your weight dropping like never before.
After a month, you need to make some substitutions – instead of limiting bread, switch to whole-grain. Switch coffee creamer for low-fat milk, white rice with brown rice. In other words, try to switch as many foods as possible for their healthy alternatives.
Fact #2: Track your food, but don’t make it complicated
Tracking every calorie is terrific, but necessary only for a limited number of people who are looking to lose the last few percent of body fat for their abs to show. But, for most people who are looking to lose their first 20+ pounds.
What you need is a simple food log. Just write everything you eat, in a simple notebook. Make a page where you will have a sheet separated into seven columns, one for each day, and write what you eat and drink, every day.
What you will notice is that sometimes you can’t fit everything into the column – that will never happen in an app. You will also notice patterns, that you sometimes forget to drink water, and on certain days you overeat.
Ask yourself why is it like that, and address the issue. Start carrying a water bottle in your bag that will stop you from wasting money on something sweetened. If you overeat during the night, eat a bigger dinner two-three hours before bed, and then eat breakfast immediately after waking up. That way you will cut a mid-night binge which is usually junk, and you will improve your sleep.
Fact #3: Cardio is not only about losing fat
While you will help your fat loss with cardio, the best way to do it is through proper dieting. So why bother? The key is in the name cardio.
Cardio is a synonym for aerobic exercise, which is good for your cardiovascular health. While aerobics got a bad rep (thanks ‘80!) and most people think about weird-looking middle-aged men in tights, it is actually essential for health.
Exercising low-to mid-intensity, where the oxygen is optimally used to feed energy demands not only burns fat but benefits the cardiovascular and respiratory system. You will strengthen the most important part of the organism, which translates to all other aspects of health. With better circulation, even your brain will work better, and the exercise is shown to improve cognitive performance, and even fight depression.
That’s it! Three, Short and sweet facts that tell you first not to rush things, second not to make them complicated, and third, to look beyond the obvious. By having a health-first approach to fitness, you will be not only happy and healthy, but also look good, and have a proper foundation to reach your performance goals, if you decide to chase them.