Let us say right off the bat that this is not intended as an anti drug rant…or a pro one either. Pharmaceuticals in this context are being used as an extreme example to illustrate a far more important issue. Likely the most important issue with regards to health and fitness.
To set the stage lets overview medicine; emergency life saving medicine IS the heart of it all. Medicine was invented to save those in dire need of saving. Over time we learned to better predict what things would kill in time and how to try and stop them. The fact is medicine is and always has been the science of fixing problems, that is working on things after they go wrong. With what we now know about human health, fitness is medicine in the sense that it saves lives by staying ahead of the curve. Fitness is a way of seeing medicine differently.
Proactive healthcare doesn’t have to mean early screening for ailments, it can be far more about staying fit and reducing the wear of life and stress and incidental issues. Unfortunately what we still see is drugs riding supreme over fitness. Drugs which supposedly treat issues quickly and effectively…issues which in many cases could have been prevented.
The huge problem with using drugs as intervention is obvious – if the effects are quick then they are very strong, if they are very strong then the likely hood of side effects is high. As we have said before the human body is a closed complex system. Affecting one part affects another given time. The stronger you influence one part the greater and quicker the effects are on the other parts.
The second significant issue with drugs is they are so strong and unnatural (relative to what the human body has experienced through evolution) the side effects are often irreversible. When you throw a system out of balance there is a massive risk that it will never settle back down. More importantly there is no way for a person to sense directly that things are going wrong. How you feel won’t tell you much about internal chemical conflicts. In fact, often when clients tell me they sense something is wrong with their health they are sensing a warning not the primary ailment. Thus they have no method to respond…other than to be diagnosed by a Doctor and usually prescribed drugs.
We won’t even bother to get into the facts of addiction and mental dependence because such is far too complex for a blog post. The interesting thing is in the end it all does come back to the mind, behaviour and feelings. Let’s go to the opposite end of pharmaceutical use to illustrate.
You may or may not know but a very, very…very high percentage of the athletic and fitness world uses drugs. Performance and visual enhancements come easy with drug use. Even we have pondered just how much quicker and how much more money we could have made had we chosen to partake in such. Quick big improvements in look and performance translate easily to what a fitness pro can solicit and charge. Laymen are always overly impressed with how people look and perform (agility, endurance and strength).
One can debate the dangers of using strong chemicals to increase certain physical traits but because it is generally illegal there is no real hard fast data. What intrigues us more is the surprising correlation between drug use with both non fitness oriented people and fitness centric individuals.Yes there is a strong and strange kinship amongst the two and it illustrates an important…perhaps the most important factor with regards to health, healthcare and fitness (exercise, nutrition, recovery, activity).
In a very short timeframe we have become accustom to fast results. We get what we want almost on impulse. It doesn’t take any time to get water or food. It takes little time to get clothing and shelter. If you are injured you seek immediate, walk in, emergency room attention. Across the board we are use to quick solutions which has encouraged a natural habit of leaving things until the last minute.
Most often our client base is regular people who have let there physical body fade to the point where most quick fix interventions aren’t helping or don’t exist. Unfortunately fitness works best as prevention rather than cure. There simply is no cure for aging and fitness has its greatest effect when used before you start to fall apart. This runs in contrast with almost everything else in our lives and where the link with fitness fanatics is found.
The belief that quick fixes, quick change, quick solutions…are the norm is where the drugs fit in. Our healthcare systems are bloated beyond recognition with unfathomable amounts of prescription medications as is the world of athletics, exercise, modelling, dieting and the like. Many conditions are solvable on whole or in part through just plain old good eating and exercise however the lure of quick and possibly superb results keeps drugs in the mix.
It’s more than just impatience though, it is the fantasy of super health that drives this. People who are afflicted by an illness are no different than drug using fitness buffs. They both tend to think they can attain better health than they had previously through drugs but this just isn’t true at least from a scientific standpoint.
Health is simply a state of balance within an organism.
There is no super health or extra health. The measure is only relative to the individual and aging always degrades health. You may jack up one aspect of your physicality temporarily but it doesn’t mean you are ‘healthier’.
You are a system and homeostasis…keeping everything in balance with everything else is your health. This is why it is so hard to change your fitness (lose fat, build strength and endurance). Your body is designed to resist change and respond to everything by maintaining the status quo.
Consider the balance of fitness:
* A bit too much food and your health suffers over time…just like not enough nutrition over time.
* Not enough exercise and activity and the body grows weak, too much exercise and activity and the body breaks down and also becomes weak.
* Not enough rest, recovery and sleep and health suffers – too much resting and being sedentary destroys health as well.
You can see that human health requires equilibrium not a high amount of anything. Maintaining systemic balance is the key to long term fitness protection.
Ultimately drugs provide only a second rate version of health. In the instance where they are life saving/prolonging they could be looked at as essential however for fitness they are not. The human body is designed to heal itself 99% of the time. With the proper application of nutrition, exercise, regular activity and solid rest/recovery health is maintained. Not only does fitness repair but it protects…it just takes time…more importantly it takes consistency. Consistency is the key, doing what needs to be done every week. At the risk of sounding over simplified or ‘talking down’ consider:
– you can’t stop eating…so why not eat well?
– you can’t stop being a physical…being so why not stay active and exercise?
– you can’t stop sleeping so why not rest appropriately?
From our perspective and because we have been living it so long, this is all a no brainier. Strangely though people will risk drug use and health scares rather than being careful what they eat or protecting their physical structure and will even skimp on rest or allow themselves to be sedentary. Fitness is a requirement of life, the less you have of it the less likely you are to live both in quantity and quality.
We simply cannot stress enough the need to view your health and fitness with patience, commitment and consistency. There is no quick fitness it is a life long attachment. You are either building it, sustaining it or losing it…why not make it a rich relationship…
Until next time, be well,
Andrew and Tierney