I am an online personal trainer and fitness/strength training enthusiast. I want people to get stronger, be more confident, to improve their body image and for them to simply feel better every day. Today I want to shine a very different light on health in hopes to encourage you to get more active and take better care of your body.
For that, we’ll ignore the sexy part of fitness. Ignore the looking-good-naked, the feeling-confident-in-a-bikini, the getting-all-the-girls-because-you-look-buff, the growing-a-butt, the being-toned and showing-off-your-sixpack.
Instead, we’ll focus on the part only few of us (including myself) want to talk about until they have an issue with it. I started strength training solely because it made me look and feel badass and not for the overall improvement of my mental and physical health. Those were just very (!) pleasant side effects.
In reality, however, it’s the other way around. The way you look and the confidence-boost is a pleasant side effect of the improvement of your overall health. Breaking news: you only have one body. You only have one edition of all of your organs, muscles, bones and joints: from the heart to the brain to the lungs. You only have one pair of knees and hips and shoulders. (For the sake of the blogpost, we’ll ignore the option of transplants 😉 ).
In the last couple of months my health has been on my mind more often than I would have liked. Since half a year I’ve been battling with a worsening shoulder injury that seems impossible to diagnose or to treat and is increasingly affecting the way I live and plan my life. And as with all adversity, I learn from this experience. And as with many problems, realizations and ideas I have, I want you to take away something from it too. That’s the whole point of this blog. As a little disclaimer: I know my shoulder injury will not be the end of the world nor the end of me, but it makes me more aware of my body, the musculoskeletal system and my health rather than strength and performance.
I bet you know the feeling when you’re sick you promise yourself you’ll be much more grateful for your health once you’re better. I sort of feel this way about my shoulder. It makes me think about how much time I (hopefully) still have on this planet and how much I need to take care of the one body that I have. I am saying this as someone who already is very health- aware, has a “balanced” diet and an active lifestyle and who probably just made a few consecutive mistakes in training over a longer period of time.
I want to address those of you who don’t think very far ahead when it comes to their health. Who will be (more or less) surprised about being diagnosed with diabetes or a cardiovascular disease and have a slipped disc and dysfunctional joints. It sucks. Some things are irreversible. You don’t want to be a situation that could have definitely been preventable. And I know if you’re young and dumb you don’t think this will ever affect you, but statistically speaking at least 8 of you reading this between the age of 20-79 will get diabetes. Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death worldwide while most of those deaths could be prevented by addressing behavioral risk factors such as use of tobacco, unhealthy eating, inactivity and excess consumption of alcohol. And all of this isn’t new information and still sounds unsexy and not that interesting to you.
You might be one of the lucky ones who can treat their body like a trash and get away with it. No cancer, no chronic disease, no dysfunctional joints. Congrats. I wouldn’t want to risk it anyway. And I wonder regardless, what your quality of life would have been like, had you taken more care of your health and had you been more active. Well, we’ll never know. What I do know is that you only have one body and zero chances to fuck it up. Zero. What I do know is that, no matter your age, you can still change your habits and behavior to decrease the probability of having a permanent health issue later. You can still choose long – term health over very short – term satisfaction such as an “unhealthy” diet, inactivity, drinking and smoking. What I do know is that you don’t want to find yourself, fast forward, in a doctor’s office hearing a shattering and life changing diagnose that could have been prevented had you just eaten a lot less crap and been a lot less of a couch potato.