Total Fitness

Total FitnessWhat does a healthy life style look like?  Or asked another way, just what do we need to do to keep from being a statistic of bad health?   Believe it or not you don’t need to train 20 hours a week for the next Iron Man or find the perfect diet.   With a little discipline, and guidance in the areas of nutrition, strength training,  aerobic training and injury prevention you’ll become that perfect picture of health you’re looking for.  I like to think of each of these areas as just one piece of the total fitness puzzle.   If you leave out one of the pieces your picture of health won’t be complete.

Nutrition- Piece #1

Nutrition is puzzle piece #1.  This is not where I lay out the perfect diet plan.   Mater-of-fact it’s not a diet at all; it’s a lifestyle.    It’s an understanding of the basics of macronutrients and micronutrients and the development of proper eating habits.   The success of the big picture heavily depends on getting this piece correctly in place.  We can’t expect our bodies to look and perform ideally on a poor diet, any more than we can ask a sports car to win a race using low grade fuel.

The two major problems I see in the area of nutrition are portion size and processed food.

Thanks to McDonalds’ supper size marketing plan  Americans don’t know what a legitimate portion size is anymore. Our idea of what a portion has grown over the years.   As American dinner plates grew from 9 inches in thePuzzle Stack_edited-3 1950‘s, to 11 inches in the 90’s, to a whopping 13 inches today, our waist sizes have grown at the same rate.

Now let’s look at culprit number two in the nutrition piece.  Processed convenient foods have become a way of life for on-the-go Americans.   The problem is these foods lack the vitamins, minerals, nutrients, antioxidants, probiotics, phyto-chemicals and fiber that our bodies need for optimal performance.   On the contrary these convenient foods are packed with, high fructose corn syrup, sodium, saturated fat, hydrogenated oils, chemicals, dyes, and artificial flavorings.   It’s no surprise the United States is in the middle of an obesity epidemic while health problems like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are out of control.  Dieting is not the solution.  Understanding nutrition and retraining your eating habits, however, is the beginning of a healthy lifestyle.

Cardio Training- Piece #2

Why do you exercise?  Some of the top reasons people exercise are stress therapy,  solitude, competition and weight loss.   Whatever your reason, there’s a good chance part of your motivation is health related.   Of the hundreds of healthy things you can do for your body, cardiovascular training ranks number one in improving heart health.   Cardio training strengthens your heart and lungs which in turn has a positive impact on your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and therefore risk of heart disease.   Not only does cardio training improve your heart and lungs, it also improves your mood, immune system and energy levels!

Our bodies were designed to live an active lifestyle.   Unfortunately we have become a product of our own technology.   Automobiles, computers, microwaves, and elevators are wonderful advances in technology, however they have also caused us to lead an extremely sedentary lifestyle.   When you combine bad nutrition habits with sitting around all day, you’ve created the perfect recipe for disease and obesity.

A well designed cardio program will put you on the path to reaching personal fitness goals you never thought possible.

Strength Training- Piece #3

If you get piece #1 and #2 in place you might be able to fake the perfect picture of health during the winter months when you have on your favorite jeans and sweater.   However, when you put on that swimsuit come summer, it’s time to show off what’s under all that material.   Without strength training, adjectives like toned, cut, ripped, and firm might be far from describing what’s under those jeans.

More than just esthetics, a well toned body is practical.  Athletes know strong muscles lead to speed and agility.  The endurance athlete who neglects the importance of strength training is doomed to see injury in their future.   Strength training also helps keep us in the game as we age.  The sad truth is you can loose up to 8 percent muscle mass every decade once you hit the big 4 – 0.   The good news is, with strength training this doesn’t have to be the case.

Wether your reason for wanting muscle is esthetics, athleticism, or holding onto your youth, a well rounded strength training program is essential.

Pre-hab and  Injury Prevention- Piece #4 

You may be thinking….. Nutrition- I’m getting better!   Cardio training- I meet up with my running partner four times a week.  Strength training- I go to the gym three times a week.  What else could possibly be missing.    How many exercise enthusiast do you know that have been side lined with annoying iPuzzle for BizCardnjuries like planter  fasciitis, IT band syndrome, shin splints, or runners knee?     That same enthusiasm that gets great results can also get you into trouble if you’re not careful.    Knowing the answers to how much, how hard, and when to train can make the difference between success and injury.  Being proactive with simple pre-hab tricks along with some basic knowledge on how to train smart will keep you in the game.

 

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