Are you putting your fitness first, and your health second?
If so, chances are you will come unstuck sooner or later.
It's a mistake I've made in the past, and I see it happening all too often with newbies and seasoned fitness warriors and athletes too.
Sound familiar? Then I am talking to you.
Let me explain, take a look at the diagram below that I put together.
The internet is littered with stories of strength athletes suffering with kidney failure and heart problems in their 30's and 40's from what they took in their 20's. Bikini Models and Ms Figure Athletes disrupting their hormonal balance, running head on into metabolic damage and ruining their bodies in the process. But it doesn't end there.
When I worked as a Strength Coach, dealing with end stage rehabilitation at Balance Physiotherapy in London for over 7 years, the waiting rooms were cramped with the broken bodies of weekend fitness warriors, lifting too heavy too often, running too far too frequently, knees blown out from skiing, running, rugby and general fitness training. Shoulders ripped out the socket after doing the latest met con they clearly weren't ready for.
Look I get it, obesity levels here in the UK have trebled in the last 30 years, and did you know we are now officially top of the European Obesity Table with Ireland sneaking in to second place. This is one European league that we Brits don't need to be the top of. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for people who want to make real changes. Yes we need to get active, yes we need to address our nutrition and lifestyle factors, but there is a difference between health and fitness.
Just because you are fit, doesn't mean you are healthy.
I should know, when I ended up in hospital back in 2013 on my death bed for 13 days, I was squatting 200kg for reps and doing sprint intervals literally the day before I collapsed on the street.
But what makes us do it? Is it because we want to be extraordinary? Well this is very ordinary, as an example you just have to google instagram fitness model to get what I am talking about. Fitness models come a dime a dozen. It's pretty standard.
Is it for glory?
Are you one of those people who attach their sense of self worth to a number on the scales? Or are you be a "could have been but never was"? Chasing the ghosts of failed achievements in your childhood, you'll hunt your fitness and sport dream almost fanatically to prove to yourself that you are worth something. That you don't get two bites of the cherry and now is your last chance right?
Perhaps you attach your sense of self worth to your performance? When you hit those numbers, run that distance under that time, nail that move, you feel good, fantastic, almost immortal. But subconsciously you make it mean that you are a "good" person, and when you fail to hit those targets that you youself are a failure, and that you are a "bad" person?
Listen, lets keep it real, Lance Armstrong was knocking out some outstanding times, but you and I know that anyone that claims that he is a "good" person is probably clutching at straws or just high.
Remember you are not your performance.
Now I don't know which one applies to you, and it maybe that none of these things do, but I do know that if you are putting your fitness first at the expense of your health, it will not end well for you. I urge you to stop. Take a long hard look at yourself , be brutally honest and question, what's going on, "Why am I doing this - really?"
What I am leading up to is that there are many definitions of health out there, the World Health Organisation is a good starting point. This is great. But there is something I think is even more useful, this is being able to identify practices that you are doing that are not condusive to your health (and quite frankly f*cking you up), there will be tell tell signs, here are just a few of them,
This list is not exhaustive but a really good reference point. In the pursuit of that pretty body, or to be bigger, faster, stronger, more flexible at the cost of your health, is it worth it? It may seem like it know, but when you end up dialysis with no kidney donor available, or lungs collapse, metabolic disorders kick in and that pretty body you sacrificed so much for, is no longer pretty and you cant do half the stuff you wanted, or you are on the operating table, getting bones fused, and bits stiched back together, or when that heart attack comes, I doubt you'll think it was worth it.
And here's the thing.
If you put your fitness first and sacfice your health at the expense the pyramid will topple and you will come unstuck. But when you make your health your priority, it will give you a strong foundation on which to build sustainable fitness and even better performance that will last throughout the years.
Don't wait until you are broken to fully appreciate your health.