|They say that time is the fire in which we burn. "They" also say that our life belongs to no one except ourselves. Not so. In the end our life force departs from our physical body without our consent and there is absolutely nothing we or anyone else can do about it. Our days are numbered, therefore it is the day at hand and each remaining precious day that follows that really matters. To some this is a great mystery, to others nothing more than simple biological truth.
If we cannot change what appears to be inevitable, our objective then, once this apparent great truth has been accepted, lies more in improving the quality of life while we are here, as opposed to simply enduring the process and distracting ourselves with matters of less significance or relative unimportance. In this context lifestyle choices that reduce health and quality of life are perceived as illogical.
Enter the "Science of Living Well", a term I use to describe the lifestyle I encourage and also follow. In a nutshell it includes a combination of routine functional exercise, physical activity and engagement in your favorite sport(s). You then combine this active lifestyle with optimum nutrition, which includes the use of dietary supplements. If quality of life is our single and foremost objective, then regardless of what we dream of or hope to achieve during our lives, we need to apply a reliable strategy. A strategy confirmed by objective science as being essential to the achievement and maintenance of excellent functional health, which both in the short and long run, provides quality of life.
One of keys to good health long term is to keep your body moving, but find enjoyment in the motion. Do something physical just for fun, like bowling, swimming, in-line skating, ball hockey or dancing. Have fun, try not to get hurt and laugh your troubles away. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t have to workout if you play sports, walk or physically work at your job. Physical activity is not technically the same as exercise.
Physical activity (sport) refers to any expenditure of energy brought about by bodily movement through the contraction of skeletal muscles. This includes a complete spectrum of activity ranging from very low resting levels to maximal exertion. But exercise and physical activity are two different things.
Exercise is a component of physical activity but its distinguishing characteristic is that it's structured progressively in relation to the science of exercise physiology and organized to develop and maintain total physical fitness for the benefit of health and performance. No single sport utilizes the body equal to what is possible to achieve in a controlled environment when total fitness is the focus.
Sport by the way, is a derivative of Middle English 'sporte', which is short for 'disporte', and is translated from Old French 'desport', meaning pleasure, and from desporter, meaning to divert. Historically speaking, Sport was viewed as a non-essential form of pleasure utilized by men and women to distract them from the hardships and serious side of life. It provided entertainment and created a physical means of enjoyment to help people cope with the burden of living.
Enter the art and science of sports nutrition. The art consists of nourishing an active body with high quality food and natural health products in a skillful, safe and consistent manner. This pertains not only to what we eat, but also when, where and how. Whole food and natural health products (NHPs) are administered with reference to dozens of variables including but not limited to the following: food quality and quantity, macronutrient percentage, micronutrient density, glycemic index, biological value, acid/alkaline balance, fatty acid ratio, enzyme activity, biochemical individuality, chronotype, somatotype, blood type, hydration, ethnic origin, athletic objectives, training volume, intensity & frequency, specificity of sport, body composition, current health status, injury status, lifestyle, metabolic status, recreational drugs, prescription medication and OTC drugs.
From a biological point of view, the 'prime directive' and function of nutrition is to supply a living organism with the energy and micronutrients it requires for nourishment, optimum function and maintenance of life. Taste, texture and culinary pleasure are secondary to provision of such nutrients in relation to biological demand. The function of food is to sustain life (not simply to gratify sensory pleasure).
You see without good health nothing else really matters. Family, children and possessions are lost when you give up the ghost prematurely. They are all left behind. You simply can't enjoy wealth without physical, mental and emotional health. It's also difficult to enjoy yourself when someone you love or care deeply about is suffering. You can’t count money with twisted arthritic fingers and limbs. You can't travel abroad without a strong immune system and you can't play the sports you love with a cardiac condition or painful damaged joints. That's what Emerson meant when he said that "Health is Wealth".
When it comes to exercise, do you train on a regular basis? Without consistency no progress is possible and your physical condition will diminish. Do you have a routine? When you do train, do you warm-up before your weights and do you in fact lift weights with varying degrees of intensity? Do you focus on your core, do you perform any cardio and do you stretch? These components of exercise are mandatory, as true fitness is determined by measuring muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility, aerobic capacity and body composition. By the way, when’s the last time you had a total fitness assessment, and if you never have, how do you know if you’re really fit?
When it comes to nutrition, do you eat as hard as you train? Do you have a plan or do you leave each meal to chance? Do you eat as much fresh, whole organic food as possible? Do you avoid empty calorie foods? Are the white refined mainstream staples of North America in your house? Is your diet compatible with your blood type, your immune system, your ethnic origin, your body type and your metabolism? Do you know the difference between a fat, carbohydrate and a protein, and can you tell by looking at any food what the dominant macronutrient is? Do you know that ALL nuts and seeds are high in fat and low in protein? Do you know that beans, peas, lentils and legumes are generally low in protein and high in carbohydrates? Do you know that heat denatures protein and can turn something good like venison, turkey breast or tuna fish into something that acidifies your blood and dehydrates your body?
When it comes to vitamins, do you take them? Do you have countless bottles of vitamins in your cupboard that are all half empty (or half full)? When it comes to minerals or vitamin C & E, do you know how much of what to take and when to take them? Do you take a protein shake before and after each workout? Is your vitamin program complete and are you taking supplements validated by good science?
The practice of exercise and consuming good wholesome food is only a means to an end. You can enjoy the means but the ultimate objective is to achieve the end through the means. The end is the health we require to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The means is also necessary to preserve enough wellness so that we can continue to work and support ourselves and our family now and in the future. Lose your health and you lose your independence and much of your freedom. Fortunate is the man or woman who can appreciate good health as wealth without first having to lose it. Some people never get a second chance.