I don’t really mean like with a cold or flu. Maybe the better question would be “Are you well?”
First off, what does it mean to be sick? If you look in the dictionary, a common definition is “without disease.” So does the absence of disease mean that you are “well?”
Maybe it would be simpler (and more enjoyable) to define what it means to be ‘Well.’ Low blood pressure, low cholesterol, normal blood sugar, and the ability to breathe? Does this make us “well?” I recently met with an older woman, who had just met with her doctor who declared she had nothing to worry about, because she was “unremarkable.” Apparently, this is the phrase used when there is an absence of any mark that would send up a red flag for future health issues. I don’t know if any of us should be striving to be “unremarkable” but I digress…
What about being able to pick up your kids, your grandkids or your niece/nephew? Are you able to get down on the ground and play with them? What about when you all go on vacation, are you able to walk around and go sight-seeing? When enjoying summer in California out on a boat or at the beach – are you able to swim without worry? Are you able to play football on the beach without feeling completely out of breath? Or without being worried about hurting yourself?
Think of those in your circle who are spending time in a nursing home. Some, yes, are dealing with chronic disease. Most however, arrive there because they are not able to get off the ground if they fall. Simple as that. They lack the strength to do simple tasks like using the restroom or taking a shower. By the original definition, these individuals are NOT “sick.” But are they well?
In CrossFit methodology, we talk about the “Sickness-Wellness-Fitness” continuum. The goal is to move as far toward ‘fitness’ as possible, and hedge against ‘sickness.’ In the middle is ‘Wellness,’ meaning that you can perform normal everyday tasks, you eat a balanced diet, you do not have illness or injury, and are of a generally happy demeanor. You must move on the line of this continuum (in other words, you can’t skip ‘Wellness’ and immediately get to ‘Fitness’). This also works in the opposite sense – if you land in the ‘Fitness’ qualification, and something happens – let’s say you are injured in a car wreck or trip and fall walking to work – you must travel through ‘Wellness’ before you’re even close to ‘Sickness.’
Now let’s say you aren’t quite to ‘Wellness’ on this chart and you have that same car wreck or fall causing injury. You find yourself awfully close to the ‘Sickness’ place very quickly…make sense?
The point is to create the biggest barrier possible between yourself and ‘Sickness,’ so when things happen (because they always do) you are not immediately in trouble. Think back to the nursing home example – two folks have a fall. One individual has been physically active, eats well, and even lifts some weights to keep bones strong. The other has a walker, isn’t strong enough to carry the watering can when watering his plants and needs help in and out of the shower. Who do you think is going to be affected the most by the same tumble?
If you feel ‘well’ (or “unremarkable”) let me ask you this – are your everyday actions moving you closer to sickness or closer to fitness?
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Your partner in health,
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
-Vincent Van Gogh