By Christopher Foster
What is fitness? For me, it covers the whole gamut of body, mind and spirit. It's being true to myself. It's honoring the impulse to give my best into life and do my best to get proper exercise and nutrition. Not to mention sleep.
Some people could care less about fitness. Some obsess about it. And some, like me, try to follow a middle way. I was sitting at my computer just now when I realized I had been sitting without any movement for nearly 2 hours. I was getting older by the minute, feeling crankier by the minute.
Taking a short break to do a favorite chi kung exercise quickly replenished both my body and my soul
I got up and went into the living room, and performed a Chinese Chi Kung exercise I've always loved called “Touching the feet with both hands reinforces the kidneys and loins." You start in what the Chinese call the Wu Chi, a basic standing exercise. Then raising your arms to the sides to shoulder height, you bring your arms forward and bend at the knees, lowering yourself halfway down as if beginning a full squat.
When I reach the half squat (sometimes further) I hold it for a moment and then straighten up, circling my arms around behind me and over my head to rest in front of me at shoulder height where they began. It's one of the “Eight Fine Exercises" or Ba Duan Jin developed by the ancient Chinese. In two or three minutes I was invigorated from head to toe.
What is fitness? I agree with guitarist Stone Gossard, of Pearl Jam, “I think if you exercise, your state of mind - my state of mind - is usually more at ease, ready for more mental challenges. Once I get the physical stuff out of the way it always seems like I have more calmness and better self-esteem.”
Your body is your best friend -- learn to love your body and listen to it just like long distance runner Haile Gebrselassie
What is fitness? It's learning to respect our body and listen to it. As Haile Gebrselassie, the Ethiopian long distance track and road running athlete, said, "I will always listen to my coaches. But first I listen to my body. If what they tell me suits my body, great. If my body doesn't feel good with what they say, then always my body comes first. "
Though an ordinary mortal, I too try to listen to my body. My body is my temple. It is so good to me, so loyal and faithful and loving -- let me not take it for granted. Let me not ask of my body more than it is able to give.
Basically, besides walking for half an hour a day -- the standard medical advice for maintaining a reasonable level of health -- I very much enjoy strength training. It's a passion. And what I love about it is that my body enjoys it just as much as I do. Putting it another way, my body loves feeling strong. Mind you, please be aware that I do not have bulging muscles (though JoAnn very sweetly says sometimes when she takes hold of my arm, “Goodness, you feel strong.").
How resistance training helped me overcome severe depression and discover the joy on the other side of despair
I began strength training at a gym 10 years ago, and I'm not sure I would be here if this were not so. I was in the early stages of a severe year-long clinical depression when I signed up at the gym. I'm convinced that maintaining my resistance training schedule throughout my illness -- though I reduced the weights a little for awhile – helped me stay sane and not give up as darkness covered my face. It also helped me think of myself as strong even though I wasn’t feeling strong.
Are you kidding? I was dealing with a ton of buried trauma. I’m 6 feet, and my weight plummeted to 128 lbs. at the worst point of my illness. Strength training, I believe, was a primary reason I was able to recover from my illness and find the joy that I now know always exists on the other side of despair. Incidentally I was prescribed Paxil but it actually made things worse and I finally threw it away.
Introducing a new approach to losing weight and getting fit -- without cardio
What is fitness? With two thirds of the US population now obese or overweight, I was interested to read about a new approach to fitness called Turbulence Training, developed by Craig Ballantyne, a certified strength and conditioning specialist. He asserts that while the mainstream fitness media still insists that aerobic exercise is a great way to lose weight, recent research does not support this view.
He quotes a recent study by the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, in which subjects aged 40 to 75 were instructed to do 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day for six days per week for an entire year.
"Given the amount of exercise, you'd expect weight losses of 20 or 30 pounds or more," says Ballantyne. "Well, the surprise findings showed the average fat loss for female subjects was only 4 pounds for the entire year, while men lost 6.6 pounds of fat over the year.
"That's over 300 hours of aerobic exercise to lose a measly 6 pounds of fat."
Turbulence Training combines high intensity interval training and resistance training
What is fitness? Well, what Craig Ballantyne has done is develop a new approach to fitness that uses a combination of high intensity interval training and strength training instead of traditional cardio for better fitness, fat loss and body sculpting.
"I lost 14 pounds this month and the weight is just falling off me," says one testimonial at Ballantyne's site. "My wife says I now look like when we first met and I still have more to go. I can fit into my old jeans again which is a big deal for me. I just cut back on starches and bread and do your routine 2-3 times a week."
Incidentally, Australian Professor Steve Boucher has discovered that interval training increases hormones called catecholamines, which can reduce appetite, among other fat burning benefits.
For more information on Turbulence Training please click here. I'm very interested in this program. If you decide to give it a try please let me know how it works for you. I hope you enjoyed this post and I'd love to hear your own thoughts or experiences on what fitness means to you.
Picture credit: thienduong_tinhyeu1100 (This post contains affiliate links.)