Be strong. Be mobile. Be enduring. Perhaps, be relatively lean. Don’t throw away health because of idolatry to body composition. Skinny does not mean healthy or fit. Heavy doesn't mean unhealthy or unfit. Body composition is body composition. No more. No less.
I once had a client who was in the best overall shape of her life while we were training only twice weekly. She was plugged in with me, with a yoga practice AND a variety of endurance training and activities. A busy season of work and life began to chip away at her availability, first bringing us to once weekly meetings. At that point, her strength remained. However, she stopped yoga AND any cardiorespiratory efforts. Body composition began to slightly worsen and it was evident that her endurance vanished.
Over the course of three years, our frequency lessened all the more, all the while I increasingly encouraged her to find a way to become more plugged in through the week, perhaps finding a new yoga studio, signing up for a cycling club or ANYTHING.
I no longer had the availability to take her more than once every two weeks or so. Otherwise I would’ve encouraged her to return to the template which worked, our original weekly split. She began reporting back “exercise” as “going for walks.” This would be a win for someone who was completely sedentary. But for someone who was athletic and actively opting out of improvement or even maintenance, this was a bad sign.
Anything less than once weekly, and strength will vanish too. Unfortunately, strength is the key to all other aspects of health and fitness. Endurance, mobility and body comp can all be achieved pretty rapidly once there’s strength aplenty. Without strength, they’re a dice roll at best and an impossibility at worst. Getting lean without first obtaining and maintaining ample strength is extremely rare. Technically, it's not biologically viable. The amount of strength you have dictates how much of your food gets allocated toward NOT FAT. With high strength and intense muscle contraction, food goes to feed THAT strength and muscle contraction. Without high strength and intense muscle contraction, food goes to feed everything other than that strength and muscle contraction. It's pretty straight-forward, actually.
Long story short, the client decided to become weak along with throwing away her endurance, mobility and composition. I worried for her, as she had become quite slight, and now had really big risks of bone break or trauma with even a light fall. She took a routine simple fall at work last year, resulting in traumatic brain injury.
I checked in on her to find that she was attending therapy, but had become even less regular in her fitness practices than when we discontinued working together.
She reported the all or nothing false religion. Since she couldn’t be immediately lean and high cardiorespiratory output, why bother even strengthening, right? I worry for her.
But her false religion is ubiquitous. If people can’t lose weight readily, they quit strengthening. If people don’t have high cardiorespiratory capacity, they stop with mobility practices. They choose to get worse at everything since they can't be great at one or two things. But you can't be great at those one or two things without first getting stronger. Your choice to avoid strength is what is making you worse. It's not age. It's not time. It's not circumstances.
Fitness is bigger than magazine covers. And force production is THE ONLY thing that will keep you out of the nursing home. There are plenty of flexible and thin people with endurance in the nursing home. There isn’t one person at the nursing home who can squat 200-500lbs.
Don’t throw away your health just because you misunderstand fitness.