Let's start with reviewing the definition of Fitness - the condition of being physically fit and healthy. I like this definition because it focuses on your overall physical health and fitness level. This F-Word is not about being a size two or having the perfect 6-pack abs. If those are your goals, that is awesome. At another time we will explore those types of goals and the motivation behind them.
But for today, we are going to focus on your core physical health and well-being. Let me say at this point, I am not a physician, nutritionist, nor a physical trainer. However, I am a human. With physical energy and health that has been both optimal and less than optimal at different times in my life. This can be my most challenging F-Word. Which is why I have spent so much time over the years just experimenting and researching how I can feel my best by doing simple activities. What I have also noticed through my own experiences, is that it is often the very simple daily things that we can do that will be a solid Foundation for overall health and Fitness.
For me, I focus on three major categories on a daily basis:
Are these "basic"? Yes. Are they the core Foundation to building even greater physical energy, greater health, and reduced illness? Yes. Can you be a size two and be the very opposite of Fitness? Yes. So the sake of simply laying the Foundations of Fitness, let's focus on these big three now.
First: Water. The single most important thing we can give to our bodies and brains. The average human is 55% to 60% water, depending on who you ask (Google will give you a range of answers). As infants, it's even higher. So if we simply say that at least half of our composition is water, does that put it into perspective of how critical it is to our overall Fitness? I hope so!
When we are dehydrated even a little, it can lead to headaches, lethargy, and worse. When we are properly hydrated, our organs and brain work much more effectively and efficiently. We even poop in a healthier way! (Look it up) :)
So how much water is enough water? A good rule of thumb that I have found really helps me stay on course for the day is: "drink half of your body weight in ounces". The great part about this is, it's super easy to calculate and super easy to track throughout your day. Here's a calculation example: If one weighs 160 pounds, how much water is optimal for her? Yes, that's right: 80 ounces of water. So do your own calculation for yourself now. Write it down. Measure over the next few days how much water you drink in a typical day. Is it greater or less than the amount you wrote down? If it is less, make a goal to increase your water!
One note: if you drink other types of drinks that cause dehydration, like coffee or alcohol, many suggest that you need to increase the above formula to help offset the dehydrating effect that may occur. Just food for thought!
And that leads us to FOOD... our 2nd major category of Fitness. This one I am not going to go into super deep. We all know that food contributes significantly to our health or lack thereof. It also is a great pleasure to be relished and enjoyed. I do not believe in a deprivation mindset. I do however believe that it is important that you listen to your own body and "feed" it in a way that works for you. In a way that provides you maximum fuel, energy, and health. There are SOOOOOO many resources on the idea of Food and our bodies, our blood types, our this that and the other.
So in keeping this section simple, what is most important is that you honor yourself. Do the research and get coaching in this area, if it is something you are struggling with. Make a plan. And really define your WHY in terms of why you even want to be healthy. That is key.
That leads us to the final major component: Activity. What do I mean by that? There are actually multiple factors.
The first factor is actually INactivity in the form of SLEEP. Yes, sleep. A full night of restful sleep to me is the beginning of Fitness and an overall healthy lifestyle. Again, the amount is dependent on your body and really honoring yourself. For most people, we need a consistent 7 to 9 hours per night of sleep to be fully optimized.
Why? Why is doing "nothing" so very vital to our health? There are so many things that happen when we sleep that go beyond just our bodies resting that most people don't realize. Our brains literally go through a cognitive process of assimilating all we experienced in our day and re-organizing it at a deep neural level. It's like when a computer reboots, but even more complex. I find this fascinating and have read many articles on sleep and all the ways it helps us be healthier when we get enough rest. For a great resource, check out Arianna Huffington's book: The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time
Next let's talk about actual activity. Think about your current physical activity level. Rate it on a scale of 1 to 10. If you are on the very low end, that's okay. Simply start with walking an extra 10 or 15 minutes every day. Get a pedometer to track your steps daily. That way, you can't fool yourself into thinking that you are doing more than you are. Another simple tip, if you sit for most of the day, set a timer on your phone and stand up and stretch or walk around the block every 90 minutes. If you find yourself "consistently inconsistent", get an accountability buddy to go with you. You'll be helping her, as much as she will be you!
Why do most people Fail with Fitness? They overshoot what is realistic in their current life. If you are at a Level 1 or 2, your goal should be to get consistent at that level and then Level Up to Level 3. Don't set goals that are at a Level 6. That thinking sounds like this: "Okay I need to get healthy, so I am going to workout one-hour per day, 7 days per week, doing high level Tae-bo." That is a recipe for Failure. Start where you are, push yourself out of your comfort zone in a realistic way. Get consistent. Then push another level. That's how you keep Leveling Up your activity level.
Finally, in terms of activity, there are so many other areas we could explore. Things such as a gym membership with a personal trainer, group classes like Zumba or Dancersize or Yoga, or joining a local league of your favorite sport or one you want to learn. There are so many options. And we haven't even talked about sex or mediation and how they benefit your Fitness and overall health!
Bottom line: Don't get stuck in the old ideals of what Fitness means. Be creative. Honor yourself. And have fun with it. Living a healthy lifestyle is not about being miserable! It's exactly the opposite!
Brenda F Reynolds
Founder & Owner
The F Words of Life
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