Is there a way to say with certainty what it means to be fit and healthy? – or are there stages of fit and healthy, as in ‘fit and healthy, fitter and healthier, fittest and healthiest?’ Personally I believe the latter to be true. To believe that there is only one way of being fit and healthy would almost certainly disqualify almost every person on the planet, and most of us might decide that we are so far removed from the ideal that it is not even worth trying to attain it.
Most of us think of ourselves as reasonably fit and healthy, but definitely able to aim for greater fitness and health. If we were cars, we would go for required oil changes and mechanical check ups, and we would always have gas in our tanks. But gas only needs to be topped up, if it actually gets used. A car that sits in the garage with a full tank does not need a new fill.
Food is our fuel. Good, nutritious food supplies our bodies with the energy they need to perform the tasks we are required to do. Repeat after me: Good, nutritious food! Trying to top up a full gas tank will spill and thus waste the fuel. Our bodies, by comparison, will not spill extra food; our bodies will convert it to fat and store it as extra fuel. Our bodies will store and carry around extra fuel until it gets used up. If it does not get used, it’ll stay there. That thought alone is reason enough to get off the couch.
Too many people associate being fit with being thin. If that were true, underdeveloped countries would have the fittest and healthiest people on the planet. Obviously the opposite cannot be true either. What many people in underdeveloped countries lack, just as many people in first world countries have in excess. Can we strive for a healthy medium? This is not a compromise; it is the smart and logical choice.
We cannot stay fit by fuelling our bodies with less than they need on a daily basis. Similarly, we cannot stay fit by exercising our bodies without feeding them. Let us once more look at the car comparison.
When your gas tank is empty, it needs a new fill. It needs this in order to continue to take you wherever you need or want to go. Depending on the type of car you drive, you choose from a variety of fuels. You choose the one best suited to the needs of our vehicle. I don’t even need to ask what would happen if you filled the tank with water. While the tank would be full, even a 6 year old could tell you that a car does not run on water. Water is lacking essential ingredients.
Can you think of a comparable human fuel? How about rice cakes? Possibly you might lean more towards healthier fruits or vegetables like celery, oranges, strawberries, tangerines, grapefruit, carrots, apricots, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelon, cauliflower,apples, hot chili peppers, and zucchini. Some people call these fruits and vegetables ‘negative calorie foods,’ because our bodies need more energy to digest them then they contain. Besides that, they contain vitamins and minerals which are important to our well being. But could we live on nothing but the above? Of course not. That would be akin to trying to run your car on water.
The keyword here is ‘balance.’ Simply stated, if you want to maintain the status quo, caloric intake must equal calories burned. Let’s for the moment forget about vitamin or mineral content. If more calories are taken in than are burned, the body stores them as fat, and weight is gained. If more calories are burned than are taken in, the body takes from what is stored as fat, and weight is lost. Simple arithmetic!
So how do we determine ‘fit and healthy?’ This is an important topic for every one. Healthy aging depends on feeding our body nutritious food, avoiding harmful activities and exercising according to our best ability. It’s not just for body builders, but they can certainly show us the way to a healthier, fitter lifestyle.