Fitness + Wellness = Mathematics


Ever since grade school the thing I've always loved about mathematics is that 99% of the time there was a definitive answer.  On the other hand, the grade of an english paper often lay in the hands of interpretation or opinion and not a definitive yes or no. 

The human body is an amazing complex organism. It's smart, adaptable and resilient. But it can also be very habitual, efficient and even at times lazy.  As complex as our unique systems can be, I've always believed that fitness and wellness can be viewed as a series of simple mathematical equations. The more "x" I can produce here, the more "y" should translate over there. Or maybe, the more "x" I can remove from here, the less "y" will be left over there.  

Trust me, I am well aware that the human equation is much more complex then this baseline analogy, but for the sake of this article please humor me for a moment ...

As fitness professionals we are often asked for the secret formula. The one size fits all scenario designed for optimum health. Well I have some bad news, it does not exist. That being said, I am 100% convinced that you are a physical representation of your daily habits.  What you do and who you surround yourself with will undoubtedly SHAPE (pun intended) your personality and physicality. 

I want to walk you through two very real everyday lifestyles that I see constantly.  I promise not to embellish.  My goal is to simply share with you the honesty of numbers and the simplicity of mathematics.  For the purpose of this argument, I am going to point out two everyday decisions or habits that can have a dramatic impact on your overall health and wellness.  These two conscious choices are: your morning cup of joe and how often you move. 

Lifestyle #1 - Dave
* Dave is a busy guy. He is a father of two with a fast paced job that has him on the go most of the week.  Nothing out of the ordinary for your average family these days.   During the workweek (M-F) on his way to the office, he stops at Starbucks and grabs a Venti Vanilla Latte w/ Skim Milk. Dave has convinced himself that he has no time to workout in the morning, on his lunch break or after work.  He believes his on-the-go family lifestyle keeps him in motion and healthy enough at this point of his life.  Every Sunday, (weather permitting) he plays 18 holes of golf to round out his weekend. 

Lifestyle #2 - Dan
* Dan is also a very busy guy. Like Dave, he is a father of two with a fast paced job that has him on the go most of the week. Again, nothing out of the ordinary for your average family these days.  During the workweek, (M-F) on his way to the office, he stops at Starbucks for a Venti Amerciano.  Dan has promised himself that fitness and wellness are, and always will be a priority in his family's life.  He leads by example, and with this mindset commits to 45-60 minutes of activity Monday through Friday adjusting his schedule when necessary to make it happen.  

Important Numbers to Consider :

Lifestyle #1 - Dave

Daily Starbucks 
Venti Vanilla Latte w/ Skim Milk
Calories Consumed = 250 
Data from Starbucks 

Daily/Weekly Activity 
Golfing 18 Holes w/ Cart 
Calories Burned = 822
Data from Golf Link 

Lifestyle #2 - Dan

Daily Starbucks 
Venti Americano 
Calories Consumed = 25
Data from Starbucks  

Daily/Weekly Activity
Walking 60 minutes very, very brisk pace = 500 Calories Burned
Circuit Training 45 minutes = 544 Calories Burned 
Running 30 minutes 7 mph (8.5 min mile) = 522 Calories Burned
* Data from MyFitnessPal

Quick Summary (Over 10 Years) 

Lifestyle #1 - Dave
+ 650,000 Liquid Calories Consumed 
- 328,000 Calories Burned Through Activity 
+ 322,000 (Calories)

Lifestyle #2 - Dan 
+ 65,000 Liquid Calories Consumed
- 1,300,000 Calories Burned Through Activity 
-1,235,000 (Calories)

I want to be 100% transparent ...

This article is not about calories, it is about recognizing the power of habit driven by our daily choices.  I will be the first to argue that health and wellness are not a simple matter of calories in versus calories out. I also know that all calories are not created equally, but I ask you to take a good hard look at what the numbers are saying, even in their simplest form. The scariest and/or the best thing I want you to take from this familiar example is that it concerns ONLY two daily decisions. 

The bigger questions is ... 
What if you were to apply this simple logic or arithmetic to other areas of your life?  

What if you only took the stairs?
What if you had one glass of wine a night instead of the usual two?  
What if you consistently prepared dinner rather than microwaved it? 
What if that daily soda became an extra 12 ounces of water?
What if you had just one cup of coffee and not the full pot? 
What if desert was rare and enjoyed only on major holidays?
What if you removed one toxic relationship from your life?
What if you stretched 15 minutes every morning? 
What if you added an extra hour of sleep each night?
What if you swapped 30 minutes of TV with a 30-minute walk?  
What if 30 minutes of "Facebook" became 30 minutes of "Face Time" with your child.

How different would your life look in 10 years?

Numbers are a beautiful thing.