WHY I TRAIN FOR LONGEVITY not Aesthetic Fitness Goals - tips for a holistic approach to fitness

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When I focused on aesthetic fitness goals I was unhappy. But when I made the switch to training for longevity so many aspects of health opened up. I became aware of metabolic health, nutritional health, joint health, sleep health and so much more. Now I train for longevity and overall health and that's made me happier.

What used to motivate me to train and get fit doesn’t motivate me anymore.

Back then when I trained for aesthetics:

I’d get hung up on certain areas and want to “fix them.”

Then when I’d “fix them”, did I stop to smell the roses and appreciate my hard work? Noooo. I’d move on to fix the next thing that didn’t need fixing. And on it went.  

Welcome to the Neverending Story. Unlike the actual movie, this version does not have a happy ending because you’re not happy after you “fix everything” that doesn’t need fixing.

Today I’m sharing how I focus on training for longevity instead.

You’ve heard me talk about training for longevity versus training for aesthetics many many times on my channel and so I decided to do a deep dive and explain my thought process here.

When I switched to making my training about longevity, this opened up the door to having a more holistic approach to my health and fitness. Movement and fitness are a huge part of that equation but so are a few other things. Let’s dive in.

Metabolic Health

As we get older we become more insulin resistant. This means that with age we become more sensitive to refined carbohydrates. All of us. Even the people you know who seem to digest carbs well. Them too. And when you look at the statistics...in the US 90% of adults have a metabolic disorder. So that’s a staggering number and it shows that metabolic syndrome is more pervasive than was previously thought.  

So with Metabolic health, it’s not just what you eat but when and how you eat it. So both my husband and I are huge proponents of fasting. We’ll do time-restricted feeding daily (right now my fasting window is between 16 and 18 hours) and twice a year we do prolonged fasting. Water fasting is one of the best tools we have to repair gut health. And daily fasts like time-restricted feeding i.e.,16/8 is a great way to improve metabolic fitness. If you’re interested to know more about fasting I’d recommend reading the scientific literature and checking out Dr. Peter Attia, Dr. Rhonda Patrick, and Dr. Valter Longo.

Sleep Health

Sleep does not get that much attention, does it. I remember in my twenties, sleep was the last thing on my priority list. I’d pull all-nighters to finish papers and study for exams. I’d get into the habit of going to bed late and waking up early and just walked through life utterly sleep deprived, until I started making it a priority in my late twenties. And so glad I did, just wished I started sooner. 

Good sleep hygiene is important for our muscle repair and growth, but also for our brains. When we sleep our brain cleans our the toxins that have accumulated during the day. And don’t you want to clear your brain of toxins? I aim for 7 to 9 hours. Personally, 8 hours is the sweet spot for me but if I had a really tough and intense workout I’ll need closer to 9 hours that evening to fully rest and repair. Dr. Mattew Walker is a sleep scientist who has done extensive research in the field of sleep so I highly recommend checking him out. He’s on multiple scientific podcasts and also has a book called “Why We Sleep.”

Mental Health

Placing all the focus on appearance did not help my mental health. When I shifted my mindset and made the training sessions become about building strength and improving performance I became relieved and relax and actually began enjoying my workouts. My workouts became a place for me to work on my mental health once I changed my perspective and priorities.  So now I use exercises for my mental health and I also do meditative activities throughout the day. For me walking outside (without a book or podcast, just immersing myself in nature) and drawing is two meditative activities I really enjoy. I also try to meditate daily although some weeks it’s only a few times a week.

Nutritional Health

Eating healthy and balanced with the right nutrition is key to properly fueling our bodies. I don’t believe in trendy or fad diets, I believe in sustainable and consistent eating spectrums and lifestyle. Everyone has different nutritional needs and there’s certainly no one size fits all with nutrition. Find an eating spectrum that suits your needs, makes you happy, and that you can do consistently throughout your lifetime. It takes trial and error and really forces you to evaluate your priorities and well as conducting an assessment afterward (say in the case of experimenting with different foods and eating styles). 

What really made me open my eyes on nutrition was recently on a podcast I listened to with Dr. Peter Attia and Dr. Layne Norton. Dr. Layne was talking about he hears people talk about how it’s 80% nutrition and 20% training but….and this is the kicker...this is what he says: “training is the most powerful thing for your health and body composition that you can possibly do” and this is coming from someone who has a PhD in nutrition.

Physical Health

Strength, Mobility, Cardio are the three main ones.

Strength is extremely important because muscles are our life “ensurance”. Muscle mass helps protect our bones, improves our posture, increases our stamina, and reduces chances of injury, particularly as we age. It becomes harder to build muscle as we age...I am concentrating on building muscle NOW.

There's even research that supports how lifting weights can help lower anxiety. I can certainly attest to this as I feel good when I strength train and find myself focusing on that mind to muscle connection instead of worrying.

Mobility Health

Joint health and how much stress we’re putting on our joints is another thing to consider. Working on mobility might be boring (at least I have found it so) but it’s key for our longevity. Also, if you’re strength training, the only real way you can safely increase your weights and intensity is if you also have the mobility. So that might motivate you to do mobility training alongside your strength training. I have made is a priority recently as it’s also a good way to prevent injury. Think of mobility training as being important for the stuff that starts to fail people when they reach their 60s and 70s. If you treat it right then it keeps working.

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Yeah so once I made the switch from training for aesthetics to training for longevity a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It was really liberating because it was about gaining strength, gaining confidence, and gaining performance abilities.

Moreover, it allowed me to unpack the term “healthy” and include all these other aspects of health that get little to no airtime in the fitness community but are vital for our longevity.

Health and fitness is about the long game. It’s about doing the things that are healthy now so we can be healthy throughout our lives and into our old age. And sure, when you do these things...all of these things (the fitness, the sleep, the mobility, and maybe even the fasting) you will feel better and you will look better because that’s the byproduct of all your hard work. The best part is you won’t stress about looking a certain way because it’s not about that anymore, there’s so much more to it.

For me, it’s no longer about “fixing things” that don’t need fixing, to begin with, it’s about enhancing my ability, my strength, improving my headspace, getting good sleep, and fueling my body with what is good for me and makes me happy.

You’ll probably agree that there are no quick fixes or fast results, it’s about keeping consistent for the long haul and about being patient. 

It’s not about getting there quickly, it’s just about getting there.

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So I hope you took away something valuable from this video. Training for longevity provides more of the bigger picture because it requires that we look at other parts of our health, not just our physical appearance, which oftentimes doesn’t fully indicate what’s going on in our bodies.

I’m curious to know what your take on all of this is? Do you find that you’re currently training for longevity? What’s your experience with training for aesthetics? Share that with me and the other Ignyters in the comments down below.

See you in the next one, ciao for now!