Achieving Total Wellness: The Mind and Body Connection
Total Life Balance: Relating Your Personal Wellness With Global Wellness
What Is Fitness?
What was once described as a state of being able to achieve daily performance, no longer makes the grade. That’s all physical fitness was — getting through the daily routine without feeling undue fatigue.
The 21st century accepts no such definition. In fact, long before the 21st century, no such definition would be accepted within the inner circle of fitness professionals.
Fitness is now based on an OPTIMAL performance of body through exercise, nutrition and life balance. The word optimal may bring about the thought of “being the best,” but for each individual, it’s simply the challenge of being the best you can be.
You can achieve fitness through exercise and an appropriate diet. Exercise comes in so many different forms, offering fun and/or competition to the participant. But it seems that many are afraid of the challenge.
Diet is an ugly word for many, causing an association with cutting and counting calories. At its essence, diet is simply the food we ingest. When considering the term appropriate or proper diet, it means just as it suggests. What foods are appropriate or proper for a particular lifestyle? For example, an elite athlete will have a far different diet than an auto-mechanic. However, both diets will possess a similar make-up when they are “appropriate” to each individual.
Why Get Fit?
The Benefits of Fitness
From better overall physical health to better performance at work and play, the benefits of getting fit will affect all other aspects of life. Though the topic could be studied for days, what it ultimately boils down to is that exercise and appropriate dieting equate to feeling better. When people feel better, they’re ultimately happier.
Exercise has been widely accepted throughout the medical community as an aid to combat chronic disease. It helps prevent such health problems as Type II Diabetes, Osteoporosis, Chronic constipation and Hypertension, as well as a number of stress related health issues. Not only can fitness aid in combating such diseases, but it also helps with everyday issues such as getting better sleep.
Sure, those who are competitive or who have participated in high-risk activities may be prone to injury, but when considering every-day life activities, it is amazing to see how a fitness program can greatly improve the life of even the most “nonathletic” individual. So to answer the question of, “Why get fit?” Why not?
Exercise and the Mind
The brain relies on blood to deliver oxygen, and simply enjoys an influx of blood for those tasty, oxygen delivering red blood cells. When the brain gets what it desires, it functions at a much higher level, and thus the entire body works in a much more unified state. People who exercise regularly are known to feel much sharper mentally, more alert and apt to respond to any mental challenge.
Exercise and Weight Loss
Obesity is rapidly becoming one of America’s top killers. The only way to combat obesity is through a dedication to fitness. Regardless of the “quick fixes” now available through surgical procedures, physical fitness MUST play a role in the life of anyone who has struggled with obesity. Otherwise, the problem shall never cease and will eventually lead to a plethora of health issues, from Diabetes to Heart Disease.
Using exercise and fitness as a tool to combat obesity will not only serve as a way to lose weight, but also a way to change an overall lifestyle. The most obvious changes will come in physical appearance and performance, but the most substantial changes will come in the mind of the individual who accepted a challenge and defeated a personal foe.
How Do I Get Fit?
Here’s the kicker — how does one get fit? Everyone can agree that exercise and overall fitness is good for you, but how do you do it?
Fitness as an Investment
Consider your fitness as an investment. And no, that doesn’t equate to the hard-earned scratch you spend at the gym or on Yoga classes every month. It’s more than that. It’s an investment in a balanced lifestyle.
If you give at least eight hours to work each day, 33 percent, where does the rest of your day go? If you sleep eight hours a night (doubtful), that’s another 33 percent. That leaves you with another eight hours.
Consider what you can devote to fitness, and see if you can create a “family fitness” time. Then do a little bit more to focus on yourself, whether it’s Yoga, Weight Training, basketball, swimming, cycling — the opportunities are endless.
Accountability and Physical Fitness Programs
Unless you’re a rare case, dedicating yourself to the beginnings of a fitness program may come at the cost of poor attendance. The best accountability partners are those who seem to have the impression that you’re cooler than you really are. In other words, you’ll want to avoid being exposed as a no-show to a class or the gym.
Someone you can trust to hold you accountable for the commitment you make toward fitness will help you establish good habits in a more efficient manner. Last, but not least, tell everyone you know about your fitness program*, and to ask how your program is going.
*Keep a fitness journal.
Hire A Personal Trainer
You don’t need a babysitter to watch you work out. You need someone that scares you a little bit –- someone who will challenge you to reach your potential. You need training wheels on your new bike. Once they help steer you toward your goals, you can test the waters on your own. Or, if your budget allows, you can continue your work with a trainer to reach your fitness potential.
The foundation of fitness is a healthy heart. The heart is the pump that keeps you moving, so you must strengthen it. There must be millions of articles online about good cardio workouts, and they all have merit.
Ultimately, you have to elevate your heart rate towards a target heart rate, and this can be achieved in so many ways. Try running, swimming, cycling, basketball, hiking, mountain biking, aerobics, boxing, cross-training and dancing — the list could go on. Choose an activity, and get it on several times a week.
Getting Fit Is Fun
Gone are the days of subscribing to one brand of fitness or exercise in order to reach your fitness potential. As a matter of fact, training in several different areas will help you experience results in a much more timely manner. You too may have missed a million dollar boat by not coining the term “muscle confusion,” many years ago.
The human body is very adept at adaptation — regardless of how long you believe humans have been here on this planet, we’ve been adapting to surroundings since the dawn of time. It’s in our make-up, and when it comes to exercise, it’s no different. By mixing up your exercise regime, you can “confuse” your muscles and train them to respond in a quicker manner.
So many activities can help you reach your fitness potential. If you’re rhythmic, take a dance class. If you love to compete, add sports to a regular exercise routine. I believe everyone should try Yoga or Pilates at least once.
Throw in a boxing class or martial arts discipline and you’ll quickly see how enjoyable a mental challenge can be when combined with exercise. Cycling, running, swimming — such activities can be very meditative. Fitness options are seemingly endless, but it all boils down to one fine point.