Getting healthy before getting fit simply means that at a certain point you must realize that the whole reason to get fit is to get healthier. It's not as easy as simply starting a super intense exercise program that will rapidly burn off all the fat and build the muscle tissue. That takes too much time and often is compromised by our own bodies ability to deal with the excessive stress of exercise.
The problem is most of us start off in a completely unhealthy state where we can't really make fitness gains until we deal with the underlying issues making our health suffer.
If you're constantly suffering from illness, taking a whole bunch of medications and practicing generally unhealthy habits, it's going to be hard to try and engage in exercise activities that are going to get you fitter with breaking you down more.
So, in essence you need to start off with activities and habits that are going to get you healthier first, before you begin working severely on your fitness goals.
Habit Change #1
One of these types of habits include getting acquainted with some vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and lean protein. Far too often people try to outwork their horrible dietary formats and this just doesn't work. Most people will do quite well with just taking out some of the junk in their diets and replacing these with healthy vegetables, lean meats, some fruit and avoiding processed foods and sugar (ie. breads, pastas, cereals, breakfast bars, candies, cookies, chips, etc.).
This helps you feel better, gives you more energy and overall makes you more healthy.
Habit Change #2
Next, focusing on moving more. That's it. Not really engaging in exercise per say, but just moving more. Taking a long walk after dinner. Parking further away from the store. Taking the stairs. Standing up and walking around the office every hour or so. All of these type of activities really add up.
In fact, NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) has proved far more useful in terms of weight loss than simply exercising for an hour a day by itself. This refers to the people that consistently fidget and are always moving in some way throughout the day, which isn't a form of localized exercise. These people are burning tons of calories every day simply because they are moving constantly.
Now, combine that with exercise and you've got a powerful tool in burning more fat.
Habit Change #3
Deal with previous injuries, supplements and medications.
If you're hurt, go get checked and get fixed. You can't expect to engage in serious exercise if you're hurt. Go get some physio, some ART, a massage, visit your doctor and treat things that hurt. If you can't train hard in certain areas, avoid those and work other areas and work on rehabbing yourself so you can get healthier and then focus on getting fitter so you never have to deal with those injuries again. Or at least lessen the severity of the damage. Some issues just can't be fixed, in which case you can work around them or find a new activity that will accomplish the same thing.
If you're slamming down supplements like they're going out of style without really focusing on cleaning up your nutrition and thinking those fat burners are going to slim you down rapidly, you're mistaken. Supplements are not an answer, they simply can add to your overall health and performance, but they are the last thing you want to consider after you're already on a good track with your fitness level or to cover some nutritional deficiencies (ie. vitamin D in the winter or Omega 3 fatty acids if you don't eat fish). Spending money on supplements to enhance your performance or health is just a waste of money. Focus on getting quality food stuffs that will make you healthy and take your performance and body fat level to a good place.
Medications are a bit trickier as some modern medical advances enable us to keep on breathing. No argument there, however, in some cases a lot of medical issues (ie. pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues, etc.) are simply a case of poor nutrition and exercise habits.
Work with your doctor as you start eating better and moving more to see if you can adjust your medication levels down or get off of them completely at a certain point.
After all what's the point of being alive if you have to rely on pills to keep yourself functioning. Your body can survive in many cases without the drugs you're constantly pouring into it if you are willing to do what is necessary to get healthy.
This is one of the first times in history where our major ailments of society are caused by lack of good nutrition and exercise. Let's take a look at the list of top ailments killing us off...
From the photo below we can see that heart disease and stroke are leading the charge, followed by pulmonary disease and respiratory infections, diabetes is rising quite rapidly in the ranks as well. Almost all of these things can be mitigated by proper diet and exercise procedures.
So get started today and make a change! You can do this. Just get going!
Jesse “Captain Smash” Howland is the owner of SMASH’s Strength Lab, which offers targeted personal training to reach a variety of fitness and physique goals. A natural bodybuilder, competitive powerlifter, certified personal trainer, and nutrition coach, Jesse is often the go-to resource for personal training Ottawa. He studied Exercise Science at Oregon State University and even trained at the world famous Gold’s Gym. He’s a former US Army Captain with the 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a former blog writer at Veterans Fitness Career College, and former Chief Executive Officer at U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). His workouts and personal training are army-inspired to help reach your weightloss, athletic, or physique goals.