Health vs Fit: Can you have both?
Looking good and feeling good are two very different things. I know this first hand as my early days as an athlete I was super ‘fit’ but my health had suffered dramatically.
Good nutrition and wellness habits keep us healthy on the inside. Our appearance is also impacted by our health and wellness lifestyles.
When we’re looking to change our appearance – whether it be to gain muscle or reduce body fat for example – it’s natural to want solutions that promise a “quick fix”.
The problem is that these quick-fix solutions are likely not sustainable or healthy in the long term.
Luckily, there is a way to optimize both health and appearance at the same time.
This article will explain how focusing too much on appearance can negatively impact health. It will also explain how to optimize your health and appearance in a healthy way.
How Can Optimizing For Appearance Create Conflict with Health?
In the short term, what you think might enhance your appearance, might not be the best for your health.
For example, someone looking to build muscle as quickly as possible may be tempted to take supplements that promise big results. The problem is, many supplements like this have little evidence to support these claims.
Or, someone looking to lose weight quickly may embark on a crash diet, which can lead to disturbances in metabolism and hormone regulation.
Essentially, extreme measures in efforts to see quick results can often lead to health consequences.
Here are some potential consequences from prioritizing short-term appearance over long-term health:
Can Alter Regular Metabolism
Crash diets are unfortunately quite common. Time and time again when people want to see quick weight loss, many choose to go on a very restrictive, low-calorie diet. However, diets like these end up slowing metabolism, making it even more challenging to lose weight in the long run (1).
The only way to successfully lose weight is to engage in behaviors and strategies that are sustainable and consistent.
Unfortunately, when it comes to weight loss, prioritizing short-term appearance can alter metabolism and make weight loss even more challenging in the future.
A short-term approach is much less successful compared to embarking on long-term efforts for life-long health.
May Lead to Binge Eating
Focusing on short-term appearance via crash dieting not only can alter metabolism, but it may lead to binge eating as well.
Most crash diets for weight loss are far too restrictive and leave people constantly hungry. The human body can only withstand restriction for so long. However, deprivation almost always leads to strong cravings and behaviors like binge eating.
Binge eating can be dangerous as it often becomes cyclical meaning that after a binge people feel guilty, so then they restrict, which only leads to another binge.
This vicious cycle can take a toll on both mental and physical health.
I suffered with a binge eating disorder for many years and this was one of the reasons why it happened. I speak more about this here in this video:
Can Result in Hormonal Irregularity
When it comes to quick fixes to increase gains, some people choose to take supplements that are not safe or backed by research, which can wreak havoc on health.
Some people take testosterone or testosterone-boosting supplements to help build muscle quickly and get lean.
However, testosterone levels that are too high can lead to serious health consequences such as an increased risk for cardiovascular damage or liver disease. Testosterone supplements can also lead to less serious symptoms like increased acne.
Moral of the story: ensure your supplements are safe and backed by research and your coach and doctor have reviewed your blood work to ensure you actually need to be taking a supplement.
Unhealthy Relationship with Fitness and Nutrition
More often than not when appearance is the most important goal, people use photoshopped, idealized images to motivate themselves.
This only sets people up to be disappointed and frustrated because they have a misconstrued perception of an “ideal” body. When in reality, bodies in magazines and social media are often unnatural and unrealistic.
When we strive to be whatever we have self-defined as the “perfect image”, we are reaching for a perfection that doesn’t exist. The perfectionist mindset is taxing, grueling, and can take a toll on our emotional health.
Are There Ways to Achieve Quicker Results in a Healthy Way?
Let’s say you have an event coming up. Of course, you want to look your best. But, we’re not talking about crash diets or restrictions.
You might be wondering if there’s a way to optimize your appearance so you can look and feel your best without jeopardizing your health. Luckily, the answer is yes.
Here are some ways to achieve results in a healthy way:
- Focus on nutrient-dense foods: Nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and lean sources of protein nourish the body from the inside out. You’ll feel good from eating whole foods, and your skin, hair, and overall glow will improve too.
- Hydrate: One of the best habits we can do for overall health and appearance is to ensure adequate hydration by getting at least 8 cups of water per day. In fact, research suggests that poor hydration status may impair muscle growth and function (3).
- Ensure plenty of rest: When we sleep the body undergoes important restoration processes in order for us to function optimally. Impaired sleep not only leads to us looking tired and fatigued but the immune system and even metabolism can be affected as well (4, 5).
- Incorporate regular exercise: It’s well known that exercise is key for health and appearance. Regular aerobic and resistance exercise, especially HIIT workouts that increase blood flow, boosts muscle growth, increases metabolism, and reduces disease risk – all of which optimize our health and appearance.
- Limit added sugar intake: Excess added sugar intake can weaken the immune system, contribute to excess body weight, and can even leave skin more prone to wrinkles and acne. It’s recommended that adults aim to consume less than 25g of added sugar daily.
- Reduce stress: It’s no secret that stress can take a toll on our health. Stress increases cortisol production, which can lead to poor sleep, weight gain, and impaired muscle growth. While it’s not realistic to get rid of stress completely, aim to reduce your body’s stress response through meditation, yoga, reading, journaling, or spending time with friends and family.
- Add health and beauty-boosting supplements: There are several evidence-backed supplements that can enhance both beauty and health. I love collagen and super foods like moringa, spirulina, maca and mushrooms.
Ultimately, peoples’ appearance will improve as they continue to engage in healthy habits. Health starts from within, so by nourishing the body from the inside out we can improve our natural glow and overall appearance.
It’s important to focus on habits and strategies that are sustainable in order to achieve long-term results.
What you perceive health to look like does not always equate to health. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
It’s absolutely possible to improve both health and appearance. The best option for long-term health and appearance is to adopt habits that are sustainable and enjoyable, such as following a nutrient-rich diet, engaging in regular exercise, getting good sleep, and reducing stress.
Need help optimizing your health and appearance? I’d love to speak with you. Schedule a comprehensive E-Consult with me HERE