“The man who insists upon seeing with perfect clearness before he decides, never decides. Accept life, and you must accept regret.”
Recent discussions resulting from this post got me pondering the relationship of fitness and/or competitive athletic endeavors to one’s overall health. It occurred to me that overall “health” could be broken down into multiple constituent parts, in much the same way that Greg Glassman reduced fitness to (and thereby defining it by) its constituent parts. Furthermore, in assessing one’s overall health, fitness would be but one of multiple defining constituents. The definition of “health” then, might look a little something like this:
- An overall fitness assessment (from Greg Glassman’s 10 aspects of fitness). This might better be summarized by the DeVany/McGuff notion of Physiological Headroom (i.e., the difference between idle and the “most” you can do). I would assume “most”, here to mean power output per selected activity over a given period of time. This leads us into the debatable question, though, of what activity would be considered the benchmark for such an assessment.
- Body Fat percentage
- Circulating insulin level
- C Reactive Protein level
- Circulating Vitamin D level
- Psychiatric “centeredness”
- Spiritual well-being
- Dental well being
- Sensory acumen
I’m sure we can come up with many other attributes here, but you get the point. Just as overcompensation in too narrow a focus can negatively affect one’s overall fitness level, so too can overcompensation in fitness, as a whole, negatively affect one overall health assessment. To illustrate this point, think of the competitive athlete – or one who trains like a competitive athlete. This, of course, is not to say that competitive athletes are by the very nature of their lifestyles, unheathy, but to point out that that the competitive environment forces an athlete to continually redline the risk/trauma tachometer. This is where we get into the notion, posited by Nassim Taleb (and cited often by Dr. Doug McGuff), of the graveyard survivors (here and here).
As in all other aspects in life, one should strive for balance between overall health and fitness level. I prefer Art Devany’s idea of a highly compressed, accelerated “end of days”, that is to say, not a long and decrepit, disease-riddled crawl toward death, but a sudden drop-off from high-health to sudden, natural death. We could all hope to reach the end like the bird in D.H Lawrence’s poem:
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself”