You don't owe health to anyone.
You really don't. And I get ranty about it.
I still haven’t been back to the gym. Not for work, and not even for training. And I’m wondering why this is. It’s been over two months now, and I should have no hesitation in going back, because I like working out, and moving my body, but for some reason, I’m finding plenty of other things to do instead. I mean, we got a puppy, and so I’m spending a fair chunk of my time with him. He’s a German Shepherd and his name is Luka and he’s very cute and sweet.
Doggo and gym aside, I wanted to write to you to remind you that with everything you see and read about health being very important, it’s only important if you say it is. Many a drop kick insta-famous personal trainer will say otherwise, and maybe even try make you feel like shit about your decisions, and I’m here to give you advice you didn’t ask for that is - don’t let it or them or whoever make you second guess yourself about what you want for your life.
If you want to exercise vigorously (great word!) every day, twice a day, all day even, please go ahead and do all of that. If you like an occasional walk in the evening, do that. If dancing up a storm in a community hall with your mates (aka Shut Up and Dance) makes you happy, go ahead and do that. If sitting on your bum on the couch and getting good quality rest, relaxation, me-time etc is your jam, then that’s what you need to do. Without question.
Exercise is excellent for a lot of things. It can make you feel bloody amazing, it can help your body to become very strong, it can help you be flexible, it can help you have very good mobility when you are very old. But does it give you the tick for “getting healthy”?
Because “getting healthy” is made up of so many things. And after we’ve made the decision to “get healthy” in order to succeed, we kinda need to know what success looks like. We’ve been conditioned to think in the first instance that losing weight is what makes us healthy. And that exercise is for weight loss. And eating less is for weight loss. And when we put all those things together, voila! We have good health.
But what about stress? Lack of sleep? Dehydration? Malnourishment?
What about mental wellbeing?
We can exercise all we want and eat all the fresh produce we can get our hands on, but if our mental health is up the wazoo, no amount of hard core exercise and leafy greens are going to help us there.
So instead of the knee jerk reaction of “losing weight” meaning health (which it doesn’t) perhaps we can slow it down and actually assess what getting healthy looks like. Perhaps start with your GP, and some blood tests. Have you been to the dentist recently? Are your cervical smears up to date? Any weird lumps and bumps you need to get an opinion on?
These things are what can actually give you a read on your health. And usually, a plan on how to address them.
Exercise and eating nutritious food is good for us - there’s a tonne of studies that say so. But they aren’t the only things. Managing your stress levels and getting good sleep are so important but are often forgotten.
I know this is confronting and a bit bloody weird coming from a personal trainer. It’s my business to encourage people to exercise as a first priority, to chuck a bit of weight around and get sweaty a few times a week. And I’m still very much here for those things as I believe the benefits of exercise can’t be ignored, but we’ve got to want to exercise first and by finding the thing that you enjoy doing, well that’s when you’re going to get whatever results you are looking for.
And on the topic of achieving health in whatever way it presents itself. You don’t owe it to anyone. Fat people get a raw deal. We’re expected to do more than the average thinner joe to achieve health. That we’re somehow a drain on the DHB if we don’t toe the thin line. Yet we aren’t ever pointing the finger on people who do cost the country sizeable medical bills.
Those who drink and drive. Those who do extreme sports and screw themselves up. People who don’t assess a wet bathroom floor and bust their neck, back, whatever. There’s risk of costing the DHB for everyone who wakes up in the morning, and so this constant pressure for fat people to get in the gym and lose some weight because health costs? Get real. Size doesn’t equal health, it never has, and it won’t ever in the future. So bozo moronic trainers (yeah I bet you know who I’m talking about) need to quit talking about things they are not qualified to talk about and mind their own business.
For me personally, I will be back in the gym, probably tonight. My tennis lessons are starting up again on Monday, and I have that sweet little LukaPup to take care of - my approach to exercise works for me in doing what I enjoy.
Thank you Sweaty Pals.. you’re a dream team of folks and I just love ya! Have a wonderful weekend, and remember you can flick me a message anytime by replying to this email.
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