When you focus on health, rather than weight, it means you’re not going to be pushing yourself into a state of deficiency all the time, and that gives you a real chance at happiness and vitality. It means you’re going to invest in foods that satisfy you and training that makes you feel good rather than that which makes you feel bad.
When you are focused on health rather than weight-loss, it means that when you fail to lose any weight, or even if you succeed, you don’t automatically revert back to the shit you were doing before. It means you move forward, to something new. It means you make your own decisions, for your own best interests, because you realise you’re in this, with yourself, for the long haul. Notions of being ‘bad’ begin to lose relevance - because it isn’t about obedience. It’s your life, and who the hell else’s business is it anyway?
With autonomy comes independence and freedom - the freedom to choose what’s actually good for you, rather than blindly reacting or doing what you’re told. You gain perspective, you understand context, and you realise that your choices don’t need to make sense to anyone else. You don’t need to apologise for - or justify in any way - what you’re putting in your mouth and how much - or if - you exercise.
When we focus on weight-loss, it’s always about the deficiency, the depletion, the loss. And that means failure, basically, but not in the good sense of the term I usually like to use. When you’re focusing on being deficient, whether you succeed or fail, the end point is always the same – you go back to whatever it was you were doing before, whether that was good for you or not. It’s because depletion is not sustainable. That sort of mentality does not foster your development. If you’re spending all your time moving from one unhealthy state to another and back again, where the fuck is that going to leave you in ten years’ time? There’s no actual progression or personal development.
But if you move the focus away from weight, and towards your health, there’s always something you can do. Something that’s fun, something that’s nourishing, something that you actually, genuinely enjoy – rather than the tired old crap of “yeah, I’m having fun, it’s really great, I just feel y’know, clean”, which is just deficiency disguised as something positive.
And when the focus is health, not depletion, you can see cake and chips and other foods we think of as being bad in perspective; it isn’t such a serious thing when you eat them. Or maybe it is? It depends on you.
Because health is basically all about what’s good. And automatically, intrinsically, we already like what’s good for us, once we come to terms with our rebellious, independent and disagreeable nature. Which does not need to be justified, ever.
This is why you need to care for yourself. An absence of love, an absence of care, that’s what will chain you to the wheel of diet and regret, of loss and regain. But if you invest in your self-respect, in truly caring for yourself and your own development, yeah it’s harder walking your own path than doing what you’re told, but that’s never going to change. You can pander to the masses or you can do what’s right for you.
When you’re focused on health rather than weight-loss, you start to see the value of other aspects of training, aspects that you had not fully considered before. You start to care about your tissue quality, and so foam rolling, massage and muscular release, and flexibility training start to take on a new sense of relevance.
Training for nourishment, for personal betterment starts to become appealing. Training for mobility, athleticism, strength and real fitness becomes meaningful. You start to regard the idea of progression and results-based training differntly - you recognise that the reason to box is to become better at boxing, not to be thinner. The reason for strength training is to become stronger, not thinner, and so your tools for measuring progress start to change. You start asking questions naturally, because now you realise there’s another reason that you’re working on whatever it is that your training entails. The irrelevance and harmful nature of calorie-counting starts to reveal itself, and you realise that feeding your body - feeding your recovery - is what actually serves your training and development. ‘Health and fitness’ becomes a term with true meaning, not a euphemism for misery and deprivation.
We all want to be healthy, but when we see a personal training minivan with ‘health and fitness’ plastered on the side, it makes us feel guilty and resentful, so we rebel with cheeseburgers, or – desperate for approval and validation – we blindly buy into any old shit they’re selling. How can this serve our best interests, in the long term? In the short term, even?
There’s no short-cut to self-development. No diet or fitness system beats the acquisition of self-knowledge and a deeper understanding that comes with making your own decisions and developing your self-respect.
What they don’t tell you in the fitness brochure is that your personal development does not manifest in the shape of your body. That’s not how it works.
Once you make that shift from size to health, it’s no longer a battle between food and training, because you aren’t trying to cancel the former out by committing to the latter. You start to use each of them to support each other – and yourself.
I sound like a broken record sometimes.
As usual, enjoy.