Week 3 – To Your Health
Healthy is a funny thing, it should be pretty easily defined, in good health, not diseased. Around 6ish years ago now, I started going to the gym after a pretty inactive adolescence, sure I “played” sports in middle school and high school but it was hardly second nature, and I wouldn’t really think of it as training. Outside of games and practices I rarely did anything, let alone in the off season. So when I decided to “get healthy” it was pretty much the first time I’d really set foot in a gym or even attempted something that didn’t involve a couch and tasty tasty junk food (fuck you Doritos!) In any case, I mentioned to my nutritionist that I haven’t really been feeling healthy lately, and he asked me a really poignant question in response that I really have never asked myself, “What’s healthy for you?”
What’s healthy for me? Isn’t healthy the same for everyone? Here I am attempting to live a healthy life, eat well, train, rest, recover, push, adapt, whatever other buzz words you can apply, and yet I don’t have a definition for healthy. Seems like a pretty big oversight. I suppose in general the definition is that I want to go to the doctor and get a clean bill, but the direction modern medicine is going really doesn’t give me much faith in that definition of health. Really as long as you’re not going to die in the next couple years, they send you on your way. Plenty of people get clean bills of health who are far from healthy in my eyes, so that definition won’t fly.
As with most things in my life, I have now started to link my performance to my health, if I’m performing well in the gym, and making good progress on a cycle or a skill, then surely I must be healthy. That falls apart on a daily basis too. Plenty of days I hit good numbers and feel like absolute shit, whether its a joint irritation, lethargy, or some other mixture of weird ailments following me around that week like Peter Pan’s shadow, lurking waiting to make a fool of me. Then of course there is the recitation that, “good health ends where good performance begins.” The obvious implication being that in order to push the adaptations and cutting edge fitness, you sacrifice many aspects of good health, joint health being primary, but also the toll you put on your body from a cellular stress level. It’s not a kind process. It’s stressful, and without proper recovery it can really start to hurt.
So if it isn’t performance, and it isn’t a strict medical definition, what is my definition of healthy? Do I have just one definition. The other natural direction to take this, is well, do you look healthy, many of the synonyms of healthy have to do with aesthetics, fit, trim, in good shape, in good health – at least to me most of those carry a pretty loaded set of aesthetic characteristics. On the back burner of my training for years has been aesthetics, how do I look in the mirror, am I happy with that. Again, there’s a problem, there are plenty of people who look good in mirrors whose metabolisms are destroyed and whose performance wouldn’t be very great. In general, aesthetics and good performance are opposite goals, it’s very hard to seek the lean, dry aesthetics and not do some damage to your metabolic capacity. It’s just the nature of the beast. So that’s a pretty ill fitting definition of healthy as well.
Let’s get away from healthy, that seems to be a troublesome word. Instead let’s look at well. I want to be well. That seems easier. Well doesn’t carry an aesthetic burden, it doesn’t imply any crazy performance metrics, and it doesn’t conjure images of doctors offices and charts of medical data. Well is much more holistic. Well feels good, it’s someone who is rested, who is happy, and who can reflect that into aspects of their life. I want to be well. I want to sleep and wake well rested, I want to recover well and be able to give 100% of whatever I have for that day to my training, I may not get to train twice a day every day, but if I get 100% out of whatever session I am able to get in, I’ll be happy with that. I want to look in the mirror and be satisfied, this one might be the hardest, because it’s been the longest running goal I’ve ever had, and the one I’m least likely to admit to in public.
My point here is that I’m abandoning healthy, its a loaded word, and a muddled concept too hard to tease apart into an actual workable concept. Instead I’m embracing wellness. Here’s to being well.