Hello 2018! Hopefully this year will be better than 2017 was in the world. Still there is a lot to be grateful for and the vast majority of us should count our blessings. Nothing is perfect in life and that is why we will always want a little bit more of “something”, if not for us than for our loved ones. This wanting will cause stress as we aspire to be a little better personally, and worry about family and our children. We think about whether we have equipped our children with the skill sets necessary to thrive and be happy in this “brave new” world we are passing on to them. We hope they have more opportunities than we had, with prosperity, health and happiness. One of the best ways to deal with day to day anxiety and make a positive impact on the world around us is to work on being the best you, you can be. So with that back drop I would like to blog about getting and staying healthy and what that really means.
Recently on a flight back from Phoenix after a father son vacation, I got a chance to re-read the book “Running to Win” by George Sheehan. (Available on Amazon, where you can also find our book, by the way.) For those that are not avid runners, Dr. Sheehan is considered my many, the godfather of running. Sports Illustrated described him as “The most important philosopher on sports and human performance”. I love this book as you can come back to it again and again to get positive reinforcement to get you back on track or to help keep you moving forward to your personal fitness goals. The book also has a special place in my heart because it was given to me over 20 years by a dear friend just after we completed our first New York Marathon, so it brings back wonderful memories of achievement, friendship and good times. If you have any interest in running or getting healthy it is a good read. Research and practices change but Dr. Sheehan’s words continue to hold up.
Since we are in January and many of you may be thinking about or are executing on your New Years resolution, I thought it appropriate to talk about fitness and health. Many people use the terms interchangeably. Dr. Sheehan describes fitness as “The ability to do work and health as the prevention of unnecessary disease and premature death. Fitness is physiology. Health is metabolism. Fitness is a physical rehabilitation. Health is a metabolic rehabilitation”. I love that description. Being fit or able to perform regular physical activity does not necessarily mean you are healthy.
In order to be healthy in your Victory Lap you have to have exercise, a balanced diet and active lifestyle. I have shared in previous blogs that I have moved from an avid runner, to an avid cyclist, and now I describe myself as well.. an avid exercise-st. I focus on being active every day. I work out 350+ plus days a year and sometimes that includes multiple activities. I do not chase streaks as a runner or cyclist. That is to say I do my very best to get some exercise everyday, but not necessarily the same activity. When I was working I would get up at 5 am to run before hopping on my commuter train to head to the office, so you can say I am committed to exercise. I felt I worked better after my run and I think in the later years having exercise helped me survive the stress associated with a very tough work environment. As I get older I have come to realize that sometimes life gets in the way and it is ok to do other activities to keep me healthy. For instance on this trip instead of a morning run my son and I rented mountain bikes and headed out in the desert for a memorable ride and a great workout. I got to spend quality time with my son, and create some wonderful memories.
I follow many athletes on social media and by the way you are an “athlete” if you have committed to fitness. Some of these athletes are all about the continuing a specific exercise, going out on the coldest day of the year, running for the umpteenth consecutive day, shaving 10 seconds off their personal best race time. Wonderful and congratulations. I had some of that in me during my working years. The danger with this singular focus on fitness or specifically one activity is that a person may be using fitness as a proxy for being healthy. It is wonderful that these people are active and the majority will be healthier than someone who is sedentary, but I am sure we have all had friends and family suffer major health episodes (heart attack, stroke, etc.). How can that happen, he was fit?
Being fit and being healthy are not the same. As health pundits have been writing for years going back to Dr. Sheehan, healthy means a balanced focus on fitness, diet and lifestyle. Being an avid runner, cyclist, swimmer, walker, climber is a wonderful passion, but being an active “balanced athlete” well into our Victory Lap is a healthier and more noble objective. Just think what wonderful memories you will be able to create with your family and friends in your 20+ years of Victory Lap if you have good health. Remember our behaviours and lifestyle choices impact over 70% of longevity!!
If you are thinking about making lifestyle changes in 2018 wonderful, congratulations. Our recommendation is be balanced. If you have not been active, get out there, if you have not been eating healthy make the change. If you need help ask for it whether it is a fitness/sports coach there are lots out there. Lifestyle coaching is relatively new and we will have a program coming out in the spring that will provide tactics to help you adjust and live a healthy Victory Lap.
Finally a word of advice when setting goals for 2018 have a long term goal with measurable benchmarks in the short term, short term wins will have long term benefits. The reason so many resolutions are over by February each year is that they are too aggressive or too long term, we all need small wins along the way to keep us motivated.
So start to exercise, skip dessert, learn something new all these changes are important in creating a “healthy you”.
To everyone we wish you a healthy 2018.