If the greatest wealth is health do you ever feel broke? When coaching clients for triathlon or running or other events, I often refer to workouts as a ‘deposit’ in your fitness bank. For many people, we work for six months or more in preparation for an event like an Ironman or the Multisport race here in Sylvan Lake on the August long weekend. Each session completed, each lap of the pool or the lake, each kilometre travelled by bike or foot is money in the bank account. Then on race day, we make a withdrawal. We even do that strategically, as we take some out on the swim, some on the bike and then blow the rest on the run. If the race goes perfectly, we run totally out of energy a few kilometres from the finish line and run on ‘crowd funding’ to get that last bit of energy. You do not want to spend your whole budget on the swim and bike and be broke for the run, and you also don’t want to cross the finish line with money left in the bank knowing you could have done more.
Life is like that. Every day we are either putting down a deposit or making a withdrawal in our life energy and health. The list of things that give us more than they take and are an investment is pretty obvious I think.
A good night’s sleep of 7.5 to 8 hours is a great investment and pays off all through the next day. You can think more clearly, make better decisions, have more energy, and recover faster from training. Not enough sleep and you will be trying to borrow from the coffee bank to get you through, and that loan must be repaid at some point. Perhaps a nap later, or a longer night’s sleep that day. If you continue to run a sleep deficit, then the body will borrow from other resources and drag you further and further down.
A great exercise session of 30 to 60 minutes is a major investment! It pays dividends all day with increased energy and a better sleep at the end of the day as well. As you get stronger and stronger, you continue to reap the rewards of the investment. As you sweat during the workout, toxins leave, peristalsis improves (jostling your intestines) which improves digestion, your brain gets more blood flow, your heart gets stronger, your lungs become more powerful and so many systems improve! Skipping a workout lets muscles atrophy and weaken, systems reduce efficiency and your body declines from lack of stimulation. As an adult, every day your body gets weaker or stronger, the choice is yours.
Quality, real food eaten regularly in sufficient quantity (but not excess) is another massive investment that pays off in a dozen ways. Healthy, real food provides not only micro and macro nutrients, and calories but serves to give your body raw materials to repair, build and grow stronger. Healthy food is free from chemicals and toxins to let your system run strong! Eating boxed, packaged, fast or pretend food will over-work your liver, your lymph nodes, your digestive system and leave your organs, muscles, bones and brain starving for the necessities to serve you. You will feel overdrawn, with less energy, less motivation and extra body fat weighing you down.
Keeping your daily water intake up is the final investment I will discuss before I move on. Water makes up 45 to 70% of the average person, and I can tell you for a fact, that most people I do a body composition analysis for, are dehydrated scoring below 55% hydration when the real healthy goal is closer to 70%. This means your body has to work harder to do all of the daily duties, leading to cramps, torn muscles, slower healing, joint damage, less energy, and more. If your muscles are well hydrated (like a fresh piece of steak) they will work well! If they are dehydrated, (like beef jerky) then things tear, cramp and resist you.
If you consistently make deposits in your health account, you will likely get sick less, but when you do, it will pass faster and take less of a toll. If you have to have surgery, you will handle it better and recover faster. If you walk into surgery broke, run down and weak, things do not go as well.
The thing is, you never know when your body will have a crisis, so walking around with a full fitness account is the best way to hedge your bet and give yourself the BEST life you can … In your ONE body.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.