So… Why Are You Training That Hard Again?I hate to be the one to break the news to you. All of this training you are doing is for naught. In fact, it’s more than for naught. You are working in the wrong direction for your health.
Crossfit looks cool on TV and on Instagram. It’s fun to watch people that like to push themselves as far as they can in a combined track and field, Olympic lifting, gut check-type event…I get it. I’m a fan of the Crossfit Games. It’s an amazing challenge. I will be watching this summer when they roll out some ridiculous challenges. I mean, you never know in real life when you will have to flip a 400 pound tire for 50 yards for time. Did they ever think of flipping it on its side and rolling it? Meatheads. All kidding aside, Crossfit-ing guys and girls work extremely hard and are making a living lifting weights and running. It’s impossible to hate on that and the physiques they’ve been able to assemble. That beach body doesn’t come without cost though. Those athletes have as rigorous a body maintenance schedule as any other pro athlete being paid for the wear and tear they are accumulating on their joints. They are hurting constantly and must push through the pain if they want to continue to trade their body for a pay check. Yes, they are being paid to destroy their body. You most likely are not being paid to hurt yourself. You see the difference? There is a risk/reward balance that the elite competitors are willing to take on. For you the reward is what? An extra side of bacon? We know Crossfitters love bacon. I kid. I kid. Eye roll. Please. Ask any orthopedic surgeon what has been the greatest blessing in the last decade to their business and they will tell you its Crossfit and Bootcamps. Humans aren’t exactly supposed to be throwing the equivalent of a refrigerator over their head and squatting as many reps as possible in a minute. It’s not very logical.
Let’s move on. Body building is an incredible discipline. But, forcing yourself to feel like hell to look really good doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Chicken breasts and asparagus six times a day. Does that really sound healthy and complete? Hell no. Force feeding and draining water and training when you feel like dog crap. It’s counterintuitive. I commend the discipline, but question the reasoning. That’s magazine health. It looks good, but is most likely not that healthy.
All of this maxing out, red-lining the heart triathlon/ultra marathon racing is nonsense too. I commend those that are able to push their body through pain and suffering for a long time. Hell, I’d like try one someday just to say I could mentally do it. It is so powerful to push through mental barriers and could lead to greater achievements down the line in life.
The brain is such a powerful tool that it can override the body if necessary. Discipline in most forms applied over a stretch of time will get results. It’s really impressive what the human body can do when mandated to do it. But, we have got to respect the body when it comes to working out and staying in “good shape”. Maybe discipline should also mean knowing when to take a day off or to slow down the physical activity or to push away from the dinner table.
These super endurance events, or your daily WOD, or the “grind” of a bodybuilder eating slamming down gratuitous portions of meat and protein shakes after two hours of trashing muscle so it can be built cheaply back up to be bigger; these aren’t forms of health. They’ve been misconstrued as health because they do require fitness. Health gets falsely paired with fitness. Health is doing enough today to maintain a healthy body weight, good hormonal balance, and a body that feels good. Health isn’t a 500 pound squat , or 50 minutes of high intensity work at a “boot camp” that will force you into an extended period of 85-95% of your maximum heart rate. Health isn’t pushing yourself to exhaustion, fatigue, or sickness.
Just like everything, fitness needs to be taken in with a good dose of moderation.
It’s okay to occasionally hit it hard at the gym and maintain your muscle mass as you age. It’s probably good mentally to go on big challenging journeys like a marathon once every so often, or to ride for a “century” on occasion. You may really love Crossfit and what it is doing for your confidence and your friend community. I’m not saying you need to avoid any pain whatsoever in your life or to avoid vigorous physical exercise altogether.
What I advocate for is balance. Exercise enough to mentally feel good, and physically be able to accomplish your goals. Eat enough to fuel your activities and to maintain a slim profile.
Fitness does not equal health. Just ask former Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper. What? Too soon?! Look it up. Seriously. What one from the exterior would think is one of the fittest men on the planet suffered a massive heart attack recently. Fitness and health are like the square and the rectangle. To be healthy, you have got to be fit…enough (the square is always a rectangle). But just because you are fit does not mean you are healthy (rectangle isn’t always a square).
Get a handle on your eating so you can tone down your workouts. Or tone down your workouts so your body doesn’t need as much fuel. Either way, save the wear and tear on your ligaments, tendons, joints, nerves, heart, arteries, and digestive tract. Walk a lot. Stretch a ton. Work on balance daily. Eat less. Find health, not fitness. Your body will thank you.