“Watch your diet and exercise.” This is the most common advice given by doctors in response to elevated cholesterol levels. But what does that mean? Go vegan? Go paleo? Go keto? And what is a personal trainer supposed to do to help a client get back to optimal health when the problem stems from years of stress, sleep deprivation, and hard work put in over the course of a person’s life and career?
These are only some of the questions that arise as people attempt to navigate their health and fitness choices. And unfortunately, each answer is generally accompanied by more questions. Very quickly something simple, like “diet and exercise,” becomes complex. But the human body is complex, and as a result, an effective approach to health and fitness needs to be appropriately sophisticated.
One approach to health and fitness that is growing in popularity is integrative medicine. In this mode of treatment, practitioners attempt to treat the whole person, addressing not only physical symptoms, but also delving into mental and emotional factors as well.
While this is a step in the right direction, one single person cannot possibly possess adequate knowledge to address all the needs of an individual. So it seems that the answer lies not in an integrative practitioner, but in integrated practitioners (yes, more than one person!). This allows for a multi-faceted approach, created by a team of experts with varying expertise, who collaborate and contribute to a comprehensive game plan for achieving peak health and fitness.
What does a fully-integrated plan look like? Well, now we are back to our two obvious components: nutrition and exercise. But even if one tackles this with the best of intentions, mistakes can still happen. Where people tend to go wrong is in the lack of focus on a common goal.
For example, if a person’s goal is fat loss, then both the training program and nutrition need to align with that goal. But if someone is dieting for fat loss (aka caloric deficit) but has a training goal of increasing strength, then it won’t be long before those two goals are at odds with each other. Similarly, if the goal is to build lean muscle mass (aka caloric surplus), but the training program is full of metabolic conditioning, then goals are in conflict again. The important thing to remember is when you embark on a renewed commitment to health and fitness, make sure that the various elements of your regimen are in alignment with your primary goal.
While this is not a simple “3 step” program, it is the most effective way to become the best version of yourself, physiologically speaking. The days of addressing health and fitness in a siloed, disconnected fashion are gone – the fully-integrated approach is where the future of health and fitness is headed.