The Pursuit Of Health
With obesity becoming a global issue, more and more "experts" are capitalizing on the opportunity to sell weight loss products, training products, and meal plans. With a higher demand for health guidance and products, the rise of "health" marketing becomes more and more extreme. Every company wants to stand out from their competitors. How do they end up doing so? By displaying a more lean, more muscular, and more extreme (work out wise) ideal image. The more saturated the fitness and health industry gets, the more extreme these "ideal" physiques and lifestyles become. In my pursuit of health, I have found that the fitness industry is not the REAL representation of health. How so? In this article I will cover what I learned in my pursuit for health.
Mental Health Is Overlooked
When was the last time you recognized mental health as a form of "everyday health" that needs maintenance and improvement daily? Every day many "healthy" people live a life full of depression, anxiety, obsessive disorders, and so much more! What makes them healthier than the person eating fast-food? Their physique? Given, their overall physical wellness could be better than an overweight individual, why separate physical and mental health? Health is a combination of components (not just physical) and without all its components, we cannot live a healthy life. In the past I made the mistake of working on only my physical well-being. This is a common mistake made by recreational lifters. We work out for therapy, self-worth, and to avoid our problems (lifting them away and not taking care of them). I soon realized that what I was gaining in the gym....STAYED IN THE GYM! Just because I was getting stronger in the gym, my relationship issues, family issues, and financial issues were still all there. I had to soon realize that my mental health was needing exercise more than my muscles were. On the outside I was healthy, but on the inside I was ill. Just because you have a lean and muscular body, that does not make your life healthy.
Aesthetics Versus Health
In a media driven world, the "elite" of bodybuilding (and other physique driven competitions) are idolized and used to display an ideal lifestyle. The physiques of these "elite" are promoted as healthy, which gives this false perspective of what health really is and creates frustration for those making progress with their health as they fail to make the progress outlined by professional competitors. Improving your health does not have to include endless hours in the gym, a cabinet full of supplements, and only eating out of tupperware. Health is improved through daily activity, eating nutrient dense foods, fueling your body enough for daily activity, and allowing your body to recover from exercise and daily stress.
The Bell-Curve Effect
The last, but one of the most important concepts I learned during my pursuit of health is the bell-curve effect and how it relates to everything. In a world full of competition, idolized perfectionism, and high standards, we forget that our body has a recovery rate that is important to consider when pursuing any sort of improvement. Whether you are striving to improve your physical fitness, mental health, or overall wellness, taking the bell-curve effect into consideration could be just what you have overlooked that has held you back from the progress in life you've wanted. By putting yourself in an optimal range of effort, focus, and balance, you can reach the furthest amount of progress possible. Many understand and have fully came to terms with the fact that hardly ever pushing yourself results in little to no progress with any endeavor. What we tend to overlook is the fact that pushing yourself past the point of recovery elicits the same result (even regression). Finding the "happy medium" and pushing yourself to the absolute limit within your ability to recover is where growth occurs and where you will find the results you want.
(LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BELL-CURVE EFFECT HERE)
Putting It All Together For Success
In my pursuit of health, I have learned more than just how to improve my health, but how to carry what I have learned to the other aspects of my life. I have learned that mental health is an overlooked form of health. Through my experience with others and experiencing my own struggle with mental health in the past, I have realized the importance of strengthening and maintaining your mental health in order to have a better quality of life. Contrary to the media and its flashy advertising, aesthetics and health are not the same thing. What the world perceives as "aesthetic" is actually dieting to unhealthy body fat levels with (or without) the use of illegal substances. Realize the difference between sports such as professional bodybuilding and real pursuits of improving health. Lastly, learning the bell-curve effect is vital to balancing life. Everything is great in moderation and can harm us in some way when taken in excess. Like everything else, exercise and dieting can be taken too far, which leads to injury and even health conditions/eating disorders. When striving for health, strive for maintainable and strive for a better quality of life in it's entirety.