Where is Waldo? Or where are the fit persons hiding?

There is a big misconception that the fit and healthy people are found in the fastest lane at the pool, or are gym rats; that they are all lean and tall and only eat vegetables and seeds; that they enjoy the perfect stress-free life.  Let me correct you, those are myths and often completely wrong.

The swimmers in the fastest lane have just better technique.  Swimming is a highly technical sport.  They are not necessarily more fit or working harder.  In fact, those experienced swimmers are the ones who can “fake” a workout, they will have no problem making the send offs and can just swim easy if they want to, while the ones with poor technique will have to gut it the whole practice and would have worked twice as hard.  At the end, they will be the ones having worked more towards their fitness goals.

They are gym rats.  I have grown up in Europe where most people are still using the public transportation and/or their bike to go anywhere.  If you have ever been to Holland, you will know what I mean by using your bike.  When asked, a lot of the people will say they are not doing any sport at all and never go to the gym.  On the other hand, they are looking pretty healthy.  If you investigate a little further, you learn that they are walking everyday 15 min to go to the station to take either the bus or the train and another 15 minutes from the station to their office.  At lunch time, they will walk to the park to eat their lunch.  If you add it up, it is more than one hour walking five days a week, not too shabby for somebody who claims to be doing no sport at all.  They are just getting fit without being aware of it and without buying expensive workout clothes or gym membership.  Remember if you are not aware of it, it is not painful.  Just keep moving

Fit people are lean and tall.  Fit people come in all shapes and forms.  Some attributes will of course help with some specific sports, like it is easier to play basketball if you are tall, or do gymnastics if you are small.  But you can be overweight and be the strongest and most fit of everybody.  Don’t you have to gain weight if you want to do an open water swim in cold and treacherous conditions?  Yes, you do.  Are you fit?  Certainly.  Yes.

To be healthy, you need to be constantly on a diet and basically only eat vegetables and seeds.  Wrong again, strict diets are only required for people with medical conditions and/or allergies.  Most everybody else, only have to watch what they are eating.  It is recommended to eat from all food groups, from all colors and in moderation.  If you are on a diet, you will just obsess on the foods which are not allowed, and you will have a strong craving for them.  This will be painful and stressful.  If you have your mindset that all the foods are allowed but some might not be recommended, it will set you free and will help you make the healthy choice.

Fit person enjoys the perfect stress-free life.  Everybody experiences stress.  Life will always throw something at you: illnesses, death and suffering of loved ones, job constraints and deadlines, problems with children and/or family members, divorces, financial difficulties, etc. …to name a few.  It is your attitude towards stress that will make it easier to sail thru life.  If you stress over missing a workout, you will be adding to the load.  Exercise will indeed help you cope but you need to move away from the “all or nothing” mindset that is so common when it comes to fitness and nutrition.  The key to developing and maintaining lasting healthful habits is to remain flexible in your approach.  Keep a positive and optimistic outlook.

This is particularly important during vacation time and/or in September when the whole family is adjusting to a whole new schedule.  This can mean different physical activities, splitting up your desired minutes of physical activities per day into smaller portions.  (5 or 10 minutes here and there will help).  On vacation, try a new activity such as paddle boarding or waterskiing, a yoga class.  In September, go for a quick walk while waiting for your children to finish soccer practice.  Be creative and keep moving (cleaning the house, gardening, cooking are all activities in your to do list which will also count towards your physical activities log)

Working out is a great habit that, once broken, can be hard to pick up again.  But you can still fit it into your overseas travel, business trip, beach visit, childrens busy schedule.  Be the fit and happy person hidden in the crowd who has healthy habits, and always has the energy needed to live life to its fullest.

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