Fit or Healthy?

March 18, 2017

Fit or healthy?
Are you fit, or are you healthy?   If this sounds like a trick question, it may not be as obvious as you think.  In life, our obvious goal is to be healthy, look and feel good.   For the most part we go to the doctor, have a physical, do some blood work, and then make the assumption that everything is fine if the results come back normal.  We eat good, exercise, and try to do all the right things, but sometimes the right thing can turn into the wrong thing.  Being a competitive cyclist, we always strive to get better and push the limits.  Sometimes these limits can create issues.  As athletes we always look to the pros as the bar, and try to emulate them.  While in theory this may be a smart thing to do in some sports, but for endurance sports this could be a big mistake.  Real pro cyclists typically do extreme events, like grand tours and multi day events that almost always last more than 4+ hours a day of high intensity.  These type of events promote some very very long hours of training to be able to compete at that level.  I see many people who try to emulate this type of training where more is better.  If it works for the pros, it must be ideal.  The reality is, we are not pros.  I’m not saying there are people who don’t have the talent, I’m saying we do not have the resources to make this possible without some sort of consequence.  For the pros, riding is work.  They have team support, team doctors, daily message therapy, and team cooks.  This minimizes the stress of training greatly.  Regular people who take on this workload could be putting themselves at risk.  Training can become a means to a healthy life, but when it becomes an obsession, things can go wrong.   When we think of Addiction, we think of people who are hooked on drugs going down a bad path, but could it be possible to be addicted to exercise??  People that obsess and stress over missing workouts, or the more is better mentality could have an underlying addiction.  Where this becomes a problem is when the body talks to deaf ears.  You feel totally exhausted, but it’s a training day, and you push through anyway.  Yours legs hurt from a race, or big ride, and you continue onto the next workout because it’s part of the “plan”.  While you may finish your workout, and even have a good workout, it’s the unseen damage where the problem lies.  Most people know that the heart is a muscle, so when you just killed your legs in a race, what do you think happened to your heart? It’s a medical fact that after severe aerobic activity, blood tests shows similar signs of heart attack victims.  The heart is not the only thing that is unseen.  Our body creates the stress hormone cortisol, which floods the system with excessive training stress.  This secretion of cortisol is part of the reason the body has a hard time losing weight due to the fact it causes blood sugar imbalances, and immune system suppression. Another known fact about endurance exercise is the depletion of other hormones.  Testosterone, Oxytocin, Thyroid, Progesterone, and estrogen can all be affected through the abuse of exercise.  This depletion can lead the body away from homeostasis, creating many health issues. Ever wonder why we always hear about the pros doping?  When the body is running at hormonal efficiently, it will always perform better.  They are maximizing their hormones to counteract the severe effects of the exercise they do.  This gives them a tremendous advantage over the “clean” athletes they compete against who are more depleted.   What can you do? Stay tuned for part 2…

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