Fitness – what it truly means

I gasped for breath as I tried to make a new PR (personal record) but managed to keep my pace up for only 800 meters, ending up with 200 meters to cover at my usual speed. The result was 2.5 km covered in 13 minutes and a few odd seconds. Good, but certainly not my best. Was I fit? Could I be fitter? Maybe. But does fitness always translate to better speeds? Not really.

Most people get carried away when they hear the word ‘fit’. Imagination carries them to the Greek – God – like – image of a guy or dame with sculpted six pack abs and a toned body.

What does fitness truly mean?

To me, there are three levels of fitness:

1. Being able to carry out your professional duties without exhaustion

2. Having good health (with normal levels on all hormone – related and routine blood investigations) and immunity

3. Having both the above, and managing to spend time on moderate exercise without feeling exhausted.

So, if you have diabetes, but if you’re managing to keep your sugar and cholesterol levels within normal limits via diet and exercise – then yes, you are keeping yourself fit.

Which brings us to the next question: does looking fat make one unfit, or does looking thin, mean being in excellent health? The answer to both these questions is a resounding NO. 

Going back to my 3 categories of fitness, you can find that a person who looks fat can actually manage to pass in all three categories, with both slim and chubby people having almost equal chances of imbalance in blood or hormone tests. To me, a so – called obese person who runs marathons, is a tee-totaller and leads an active lifestyle is far healthier and fit than a thin person with an addiction to alcohol and suffering from diabetes or a victim of starvation diets.

So do even thin people need to workout? My answer to that, based on the above paragraph would be a big YES.

STOP CREATING STEREOTYPES

The above info would have also made you realize that a fit person need not necessarily look like a sculpted model. Embrace your curves, and be active, giving high priority to diet and exercise. Laughing at a chubby person working out hard in the gym is also not a good idea when you are lazing it out!

At the same time, having the right to look chubby does not mean you shouldn’t do anything about high cholesterol. Always strive toward eating healthy and performing exercise for optimum health.

Women, and exercise

On one side, I have seen women who binge – eat just as much as men, and on the other, I have also seen them starving. Neither habit will bring about good results. Some feel they just need to walk, whereas others know that they have to engage in multi-sport discipline to shed their layers of fat. This varies with their goal of what being ‘fit’ actually means for them.

But regardless of what your goal is, ladies, let’s set a few things right:

1. Lifting weights will not make you bulky as long as your carb intake is low.

2. Running is not contra – indicated at any age. Studies have actually shown running to be good for your joints. That being said – one cannot set off to run right away – consult your doctor first, and make use of a fitness trainer or physiotherapist to slowly help you transition from walking to jogging, and then finally to running.

3. There is still a popular fad among women that eating food rich in fats will make one gain weight. Not entirely true. Eating food with good fats (rich in HDL) will NOT make you fat, as long as your diet is low carb and you workout enough to burn those extra calories.

4. As we already discussed, being slim does not necessarily mean being healthy. Irrespective of your figure, you need to workout on a regular basis.

5. There is an alarming increase in incidence of thyroid disorders and PCOD in women. Please recognize the need to being fit and to use multi-sport activity, along with a low carb + high protein diet and therapy by an endocrinologist, to remain fit or to bring back your fitness levels. In such disorders, walking and dieting alone may not be enough.

6. Above all, shed your inhibitions and get moving!

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