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  • Jesse Irizarry

It's Time To Learn What Healthy Means

I don’t think we get many real wake up calls. I’m not even sure about the phrase itself. But dealing personally and socially with a global pandemic can definitely open our crusty eyes. We’re hearing reports of how this is affecting proclaimed healthy people. Some people will always be susceptible to disease, like this, even if they do everything right. And others who are older or have dealt with other illnesses are more likely to be hit hard by this. It really is devastating. They need to be taken care of and protected. But some of you, who say you’re healthy, aren’t a part of the solution. Because you’re not healthy, and you have no idea what the word is. It’s not because you’re not smart or educated or the answers were kept from you. You chose this. I did too.

The Ridiculous Lines In the Sand I really can’t stand the fitness and strength world. I’ve said this to a handful of close friends but never publically like this. But I really can’t align myself with it anymore. Some of those close friends think I say this to be funny or for dramatic effect. I promise you I’m not. The word industry needs to be taken from strength and fitness. It’s not one thing. If you haven’t spent time in this subculture being indoctrinated at a gym or listening to the opinions of trainers and coaches who preach some particular denomination, you may think fitness is one cohesive whole. But it’s not. Everyone finds this out. There are fragmented mobs, each indifferent to another. I’ve played the role of someone who’s only fitness was being strong. And I kept the role long after I was competitive in strength sports, which made no sense. When I took up the part, I did everything I could to be strong. That meant gaining weight. So I made myself fat. Three-hundred pounds fat. When I stopped competing and lost some of my competition weight, I still kept my bodyweight higher than necessary. If I lost more weight I’d lose more strength and I couldn’t deal with that. So I kept my body fat higher and avoided conditioning to keep that scale number up. There’s probably blog posts, videos, and articles of me saying how I only cared to be strong. Cardio and conditioning are useless. I was hard to kill. But that wasn’t true. I was probably really easy to kill then. The wrong virus or a situation that required me to have some aerobic health to withstand and that would have been it for me. Even my opinion of my strength was limited to what I could do in a single effort. A 1 rep-max. I wasn’t interested in the stamina of my strength, and I made that clear. I’m won’t be taking those articles and videos down. I want them to stay to show how it’s OK to change course and admit you were wrong. To show how someone can change and should grow. There’s plenty of people like me. Others take on the intensity role. Everything has to be done to failure. Everything workout has to leave you on the ground, writhing. Training like this is supposed to cover all of your bases. But there’s no room for general aerobic training or basic strength training. That’s too easy. Then there’s the ultra-endurance crowd that fights with intensity champions. They work plenty hard but don’t need to flail around like idiots to do it. They’re words not mine, of course. And both these crowds think that any time training to just be strong is meaningless. Let’s see...who else? The boutique fitness regulars, the holistic and flow warriors, the body sculptors. Everyone saying they found their fitness. As if they know what that means. As if they thought what they really need and what would create physical wholeness for them. The Talk Of The Town(s) High rep sets are cardio. Yeah, I know some of you reading this say it too. I’ll shame myself first and be the first to admit I said it and hindered progress because of it. There’s other talk too. Talk from the opposite end Talk about how moving stretches can make you strong or build cardiovascular endurance when you’re heart rate never really increases and your breath never becomes labored. All out for 10 minutes and you’re done. You’ll get all of the strength gain and cardiovascular health you need. I’m not in the mood to science things up and explain how that’s not how the body adapts to stresses and how modes of wellness need to be focused on individually at different times. Just know its wrong.

Past The Movement All I’ve talked about is exercise. But health isn’t found in exercise, its found in each part of each day. I think the biggest deceit of it all is that health is found in the box of exercise. And that this box can be checked off and is separate from every other thought and action and process we live out. And the hypocrisy of the fit people of my industry is even worse. Take a handful of fitness professionals labeled as physically ideal. They look like they should and talk how they should. Look how hard they work on these goals of theirs. But give me some time and I’ll show you how unhealthy any of them really are. Overworked, overtrained, over-caffeinated, eating only for a body fat percentage or a performance goal and not to supply their body with the best quality to allow it to regenerate itself both short and long term. Their sleep habits suck because they’re so wound up, they have overuse injuries from obsessively doing the same exercise and not exploring new and novel ways of using their bodies. They’re aggregating physical stress with psychological stress with emotional stress with even more physical stress to deal with the psychological stress. Personal trainers and coaches are some of the most depressed, unhappy people out there. The exercise didn’t fix them. If they were mentally unhealthy before, finding their fitness just made them sicker. And many are in denial about just how sick they are. These are the standards others look to. Some sick guy goes to a personal trainer or buys some online fitness revolution resource. He logs his couple of hours a week doing his fitness. But every waking moment he’s still tired, bloated, and inflamed from shitty food. He’s mentally foggy, sad, and angry, full of anxiety. He has no real personal and emotional connection in his life. He doesn’t move enough, he doesn’t get outside, he doesn’t know how to breathe, he doesn’t use his body in any way that shows what a damn miracle it is. He doesn’t take care of his mind and spirit, he sits at work, sits at home watching too much T.V. He falls asleep in front of glowing screens that disrupt his sleep. He doesn’t sleep enough and when he does sleep it’s interrupted and of poor quality. No one tells him that any of this is wrong. That he’s still NOT healthy. I’ve spent more time talking about training and methods of exercise than health. And I’m done with it. Because training is nothing without health. You want to train, be a physical specimen? If you’re mind and body aren’t healthy the training will break you down. If you’re young or new to training, you can argue with me now. I’ll still be around when you’re older, more experienced, and broken down. But now is the time to really think about health, if there ever was a time. We need to free ourselves from all of this. All of this small thought. We need to be healthy beings with our minds, bodies, and spirits collectively restored. There’s no wrap-up or next steps on how to find yourself a healthier person, here. I’m just telling you to look, and that you need to look. It’s easy to find. Go read something from someone who isn’t trying to sell a secret. What the hell are they selling anyway? They’re selling basic education that you could find written on someone else’s website for free if you just clicked on the second page of Google search results. You probably know the primary pieces. And if you didn’t I did just give you that. Find out how you can take steps that help you sleep better, condition yourself, and remove what’s actually polluting your body and mind. Be strong, be conditioned, be flexible, be good at some sport, but be healthy first.

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