Health & Fitness Are Lifelong Endeavours

By Darren Stehle

A few weeks ago someone said to me, “Wow! You have an incredible body for your age. I can’t imagine how many hours you must have to put in at the gym every week.”Beach Volleyball, Nantucket - Photo by: Michael Galvin. Outdoor activities are a great way to improve your health & fitness

It’s nice to be told you look good and even nicer when you’re older (I’m 48) and people recognize your level of fitness.

The truth is that I don’t put in countless hours at the gym every week.

Instead, my health and fitness plan has always been for the long-term — I have put in thousands of hours of physical activity over many decades. Those hours have included,

  • lifting weights (since I was 19)
  • riding my bike (I started with training wheels)
  • walking and playing with my dog, Buster (we are in our sixth year together)
  • playing volleyball (two years on a gay league but I had to stop because of shoulder issues)
  • roller blading (first learned how in Venice Beach, California — shout out to my friend, Andrew, for teaching me how to stop!)
  • canoe trips (in the majestic Algonquin Park, Canada)
  • sailing, downhill skiing, backpacking and other activities over the years.

While the above list may make me sound like a jock I’ve never been fanatical about sports — some weeks I enjoyed a lot of physical activity, while other weeks I was very inactive. But over the years I’ve lead a very fit lifestyle with a constant focus on my  health and nutrition, and eating real food that I’ve prepared from scratch. 

Health & Fitness Are Lifelong Endeavours

The formula for good health and a lean physique is not how many hours you put in at the gym in a single week. Instead it comes from habits practiced with consistency over months and many years. Wellness and optimal health are the cumulative effect of a variety of healthy habits, each one building upon the other over the years.Wellness Matters Cooking Class

It’s also important to achieve balance and not to go to extremes. For example, bodybuilders and athletes put in many years of continuous hard work, almost daily training, they strictly measure and control their diet and nutrition, and psychological training. This is an extreme that very few people have the time or dedication to achieve.

The athlete’s and bodybuilder’s  life balance is out of whack. For the budding CEO or high-powerd executive on a rise to the top, for the young parents who just bought a house, each working long hours to pay the mortgage and child-care, there is also imbalance. Perhaps the parents don’t have enough time to exercise or to cook meals at home. The athlete may have little time for close relationships.

The word balance is a misnomer. It’s impossible to have a perfect balance in all areas of our life, which go beyond eating and physical activity. These areas include time spent with your friends, partner or children, education, learning a new skill, meditation, or a hobby that you enjoy.

Balancing life looks like an old stereo equalizer. At different points in time some of the knobs will be higher, others will be lower and some will be right in the middle. As we go through life the balance of the various areas change position of importance.Equalizer

The take-away message here is that we need to be careful of duration. If we push one area of our life far down for too long it can either damage your health, our relationships, or our finances. We need to have a date (weeks or months; not years) that is not too far in the future in order to get back to that healthy balance.

For those of us who don’t have aspirations to be an Olympic athlete or a fitness model, but who want to be healthy and look great and have that fit into our life balance, here are some simple truths.

Truth #1: It’s Never Too Late to Start

If you follow the 80-20 rule and eat healthy real food 80% of the time and allow yourself a cheat meal 20% of the time, you will improve your health.

The same 80-20 rule applies to healthy weight management — 80% of your success comes from healthy eating, and 20% comes from regular, vigorous physical activity (the kind that burns body fat and builds muscle).

I worked with a client who lost 60 pounds of body fat in 12 months. He made a conscious decision to change his mindset, lifestyle, and habits, He used the 80-20 rule as described in order to succeed. It wasn’t easy for him and there were a few setbacks, albeit very short ones. The process felt painfully slow to him, but I reminded him that it took many years to add those 60 pounds of fat to his body in the first place, which was the result of inactivity and crappy eating.

Truth #2: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

Healthy Meals & Snacks eBook by Darren Stehle. Learn how to eat real food to improve your health & fitness

Healthy Meals & Snacks

They say ignorance is bliss. Do you think an athlete or a fitness model is ignorant of health and nutrition?

You can’t remain ignorant of how to eat healthy. When you know if something is bad for you, you can chose to eat something that nourishes your body instead of making it toxic. If you need examples of healthy meals and snacks download my free eBook on that topic and start eating better, now.

It’s also impossible to be healthy for the long term if you keep eating take-out meals, fast food, or mostly prepared/processed foods. Learning and knowing how to cook your own meals from scratch is also part of the physique and health success formula.

Truth #3: Applied Knowledge Will Help You to Succeed

You might succeed if you just show up at the gym but that’s like playing the lottery. The odds of winning the jackpot are against you, big time. You might lift weights for years, but with improper form and technique, one day something will pull or break and you’ll be out of the game.

You need basic knowledge and you need a simple plan to get started. Find some quality recommend resources, books, trusted websites, or hire a health & fitness coach to help you. Implement the basics and continue to learn more along the way.

Finally, when it comes time to change your program — to increase the challenge when it has become too easy or to adjust your diet if you’ve plateaued — you can implement the knowledge you’ve been acquiring while practicing your new health and fitness habits.

Continue forward and repeat as necessary.

“Face your inner demon by becoming more skilled through schooling and experience and be thankful for how the fear probably saved your life.” ~Working Out, Working Within. Jerry Lynch and Chungliang Al Huang.

Be well!
~Darren Stehle

© 2014 Darren Stehle. All Rights Reserved