The Balanced Life: Physical Health and Science

The science of exercise is in its infancy. When I was born in the early 90’s, women stayed out of the weight room, but donning their belted, spandex jumpsuits, they were encouraged to take aerobic group exercise classes like skittles. The fad diet of the time was “no fat” and extremely low calorie.

Here we are 17 years later and our approach to health and fitness changes with each fad. Low calorie, low carb, Atkins, Weight Watchers, low fat, no fat, high carb, keto, vegetarian, vegan, plant based, gluten free, dairy free, clean eating, IIFYM. The list could go on and on. Every personal trainer now makes their own eating guide. If I were going to invest in any industry, it would be the fitness one because people are willing to pay for answers. They become confused with all the contradictory information that they start paying someone for answers or any possible way to achieve their physical goals.

Physical goals change with the fads as well. In the 90’s and early 2000’s, the ideal body was rail thin. This meant LOTS of cardio. Then women started getting comfortable in the weight room. The ideal body was bikini competitor chic (which we would learn is not sustainable year round). Shredded frames with only the tiniest amount of body fat were sought after. Today society looks to the Kardashian’s for inspiration. It’s fashionable to carry a little body fat on the bum and boobs while keeping a teeny tiny waist. This body type is also not achievable by the large majority.

My Story

Awhile back I followed someone I considered a clean eating chef on Facebook. I enjoyed her healthy recipes (still do!) and when I saw that she was offering a cookbook sale, I jumped in and bought it. Come to find out, it was actually a meal plan to aid you in something called a “sugar detox”. I thought it wouldn’t hurt me to cut sugar for awhile even though I’m a 90% clean eater and don’t add a lot of sugar to my own recipes. The recipe book helped me prep a week’s worth of meals, claiming that the first week was the hardest and most detoxifying. I don’t actually believe in “detoxing” but I played along.

I weighed myself after a week and found that I had dropped a significant amount of weight, enough to make me worry. I decided to track the week’s worth of meals on My Fitness Pal so I could see what the nutrient breakdown was. I was shocked. I was also disappointed in myself because as a young woman who used to relish in eating significantly low-calorie, I knew firsthand the dangers of continuing on this path.

I stopped the meal plan immediately and decided to look up the woman’s credentials. It turned out that she didn’t have any. She was selling a very popular meal plan that claimed many health benefits without the slightest clue about the human body.

Moral of the story: we must exercise caution when it comes to putting our health in the hands of others. Get to know the why’s of your bodily functions, not just “how to get skinny fast” and other tag lines that can pull you in and lead you blindly. Our bodies are incredible and deserve the best care. They facilitate our amazing and unique spirits throughout the thrilling journey of our lives. I don’t know about you but I want to reach the end of my life strong, nourished, and fulfilled in every sense of the word.

The Book that Helped

A few years ago, Cameron Diaz wrote “The Body Book“. I was still in recovery at the time so I didn’t purchase it for fear it was another person telling me how to eat and what I should look like. Because of recent experiences in the gym, I decided to check out the reviews again and see what the hype was all about. I found the consensus to be positive, praising Cameron and various doctors who wrote an in-depth book on the science of our bodies that was actually enjoyable to read.

I am a huge fan of audio books, I love to play them when I take long walks or when I’m cooking or in the car. They’re a good change of pace when I don’t feel like listening to music. I bought the audio version of The Body Book and right away I knew I made a good choice. Her approach to the female body aligned with my own values and beliefs.

Our bodies are complex, amazing, and beautiful. The line that drew me in and left me hanging on for chapters, was in the preface. It was along the lines of “the same beautiful body that developed from an embryo, grew into that of a healthy baby, child, and adult, is the same body we will grow old and die in.” Obviously, that was just my interpretation but since I have the audio version, it’s hard for me to go back and grab the actual quote. The way she phrased it opened my mind to the magic that is the human body; how it can grow from amazing circumstances and last throughout our lifetime. I will be writing a review on this book so stayed tuned!

It’s important that we are educated about the functions of the human body. We deserve to know the science behind nutrition; what causes cancer (not just people saying this food will make you fat and die!), what prevents it, and how physical exercise truly helps the body in terms of longevity.

Knowledge is power. After reading this book, I realized the potential of the human body beyond what Instagram fitness models will tell you. They can’t explain to you the very science of your birth, why bacteria is good for you, what raising your heart rate does for more than just your muscles, and why sound nutrition will prevent certain diseases. We have become accustomed to taking a “professionals” word for it but in the fitness industry, there aren’t many doctors creating meal plans or exercise regimens. Often, this is left to personal trainers or people with a passion for achieving aesthetic goals with basic certification for credentials.

 

I encourage you to find out the why’s of your body and look beyond physical aesthetic when choosing goals. If you want wash-board abs, find out why we have abdominal muscles to begin with! The structure of the human body is amazing and it has much more value than how it looks. For instance, your ab muscles might look glorious and shredded after tons of labor in the gym and kitchen but did you know that they exist to protect your vital organs, spine, and make you walk upright? Could you imagine life without them? Think “spaghetti noodle”. Be smart, relish in your knowledge, and make choices for your body that will embolden your future.

Have you had a similar eye-opening experience either through reading or in school that helped ignite your passion for physical health?

 

All the best,

Darcy

 

Get Your Own Copy of The Body Book Here:

 

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