Most of us eat right and exercise to not only look better but to also live longer, healthier, fuller lives.
It helps that body composition and health tend to walk hand-in-hand. Many of the steps we take to build muscle or lose fat also contribute to better health, or at least they don’t negatively affect it.
Now, that definitely changes as you go further along the winding fitness road: body composition and health stop playing nice together, and in fact become very different destinations.
Ask any competitive bodybuilder: the last few months of contest prep have NOTHING to do with health — and that’s just from a physiological perspective.
Psychologically? Forget about it.
Still, it’s safe to say the choices we make to look better are net-positive in terms of health. Workout, eat a healthy diet, get more sleep, drink more water, do cardio, cut back on booze, lose bodyfat—and at the very least those measures won’t shorten your life.
So, it’s almost like we have near-unlimited control over both our quality of life and our eventual expiry date.
Sure. The key word being “almost.”
A subtle but real downside to all the healthy habits we’re told to adopt is that many lose perspective and start thinking they have way more control than they really do. Even to the point that every bad thing that happens to someone is the result of a poor choice they made or a good choice too lazy to make.
That’s obviously not true.
Non-smokers get lung cancer. Triathletes get heart attacks.
And chain smoking, fast food inhaling couch potatoes live to be 102.
That also happens.
Because while we do have control over how we play the game, we don’t control the cards we’re dealt: genetics. And your skill as a player can only take you so far if your cards turn out to be lousy.
Nor can we ignore the unsettling fact that Lady Luck isn’t always on your side at the table.
Sometimes bad shit happens to good people.
This hit me personally recently, when three very healthy and fit friends wound up in serious medical stress: an adverse reaction to a new medication, a ruptured appendix (that was initially misdiagnosed), and a brain aneurism.
Freak occurrences? Actually, not freaky at all. Ask anyone in health care. Though it might seem that way if you live your life insulated from reality in a fitness bubble or “health silo,” or if you’ve just been very lucky. Which is great, but then: have some humility.
Because life can be grossly unfair, even cruel, and not every bad occurrence boils down to simple choices or can be fixed through discipline or willpower or taking “extreme ownership.”
Disagree? Then perhaps pay a visit to a paediatric cancer ward.
If you’re lucky that will be the only reason you’ll ever have to visit one.
If you’re lucky.
Some fit people spend so much time in health silos they believe their choices:
Make them 100% impervious to bad luck.
Heart attack? He was so healthy!
Lung cancer? She didn’t smoke!
Leave the silo.
Get some humility.
— Bryan Krahn (@BryanKrahn) October 6, 2021