Ideal and Real, the stress of trying to be the best.

Ideal: satisfying one’s perception of what is perfect, existing only in the imagination, desirable but not likely to become reality. 
In today’s world everybody wants to be a professional athlete athlete. Or, if you are in that crowd, anybody who is anybody wants to be a professional athlete, everybody else is just slothful and gluttonous. Previously this dream ended for most somewhere between graduating from high school and dropping out of junior college. With the explosion of Crossfit, Grid, And subsequently Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting, any body can be a professional athlete through the manipulation of social media and brand ambassadorship. If you have a personality, followers, and a half way decent total you can lobby for supplement and apparel sponsorships. What a time to be alive. 
This creates a special type of monster, the one who makes everyone feel like the ideal is achievable, that through hard work, dedication, and supplements from company X that sponsor them you too can live the American Fitness Dream through the warped filter of Instagram, Facebook, And Twitter. In reality, society’s ideal of fitness is not any more attainable than it was pre social media, it only appears closer thanks to the tiny super computer that we all carry in our pocket. But that isn’t true health and fitness, only the appearance of it. By changing our perspective and a large dose of honesty and hard work, we can all achieve a semblance of true health and fitness.
Health and fitness are two completely different subjects if you ask a western medical doctor. Health is defined as the state of being free of illness or injury. That’s a very broad range that can either be standing on a podium at the olympics or shuffling around an old folks home. Fitness is defined as the condition of being physically fit AND healthy. Well if that doesn’t leave much to be desired. If health is defined as the absence of something and fitness is more health, how can I have less disease and injury if by being healthy I already have none? Quite the rabbit hole.
In order to be healthy you must be balanced across the four pillars of a healthy body. The four pillars of sleep, exercise, nutrition, and stress management are absolutely crucial to a thriving human being. But if that’s health where is fitness? One would instinctively state that exercise done to an extreme state would lead to a certain fitness. While they would not be wrong, the body’s constant search for homeostasis would lead me to believe that such an imbalance would be swiftly checked resulting in injury or illness (i.e. not healthy). I would rather believe that continuous growth and expansion equally across ALL four pillars would lead to a greater and longer lasting fitness. Mr. Glassman was not wrong when he stated that fitness and health are on the same continuum. However when describing what constitutes health and fitness he failed to mention sleep and stress management, focusing primarily on exercise and nutrition.
Imagine an architect designing a building. If while building the foundation he raised two of the four supports the rest of the building will be built lopsided. When he goes to build the rest of the building, while he might be able to overcome insurmountable odds and finish the project, the building is likely to fall at the first sign of foul weather or misuse. On the other hand, if the architect designed the building with a solid foundation where all four support pillars are of equal height and evenly support the building, not only will it be more aesthetically pleasing, it will also be able to weather the brutal storm and the ravages of time. The human body is the same way. If we are uneven and unbalanced our body will seek to create balance at the lowest level, laying us low with injury or illness if we do not maintain homeostasis across all four domains.
In an ideal world everyone would get 8-10 hours of sleep, eat plentiful and nutritious bounty, have the body of a warrior and the zen mind of a Buddhist monk. Sadly this is extremely unrealistic in the modern world. What is more common is a 9-5 job that drains our spirit, a rushed workout on an elliptical or strength training on a machine, a dinner of food drained of nutrients because of over farming and a sleeping disorder because of the soul sucking job, horrible traffic and constant stimulation necessitating prescription or recreational drug use in order to fall into a fitful sleep only to wake up tomorrow and start all over. It’s enough to make you want to go to the nearest gun shop and suck start the first firearm you see. Thankfully we are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think.
In the event that you feel like an ant attempting to climb the Everest of health, wellness and fitness it is best to start small. Take one step at a time with your head high, enjoying the new perspective with each step. Don’t look back, you might fall back into old habits and destructive behavior. Don’t look forward or you will be exhausted by the long road ahead. Stay present, breathe new air and take the next step in your own time when you are ready. You never know when the next step is your last. Appreciate each of them as if the view were from the top of the mountain, because that might be as far as you get.

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