A few months ago, I was listening to an NPR podcast about CrossFit when a trainer who was being interviewed on the show said something that stopped me in my tracks.
He said it’s important to differentiate between fitness and wellness, and to realize that the former doesn’t guarantee the latter.
“Ooh,” I thought. “He’s got my number.”
It struck a chord with me because in the past, I’ve been guilty of assuming that wellness will naturally come through fitness. Or, worse, of forsaking wellness for fitness.
An example: In March 2009, I ran the National Half Marathon in Washington, D.C., in 1:49, a smoking-fast pace for me. I was as fit as I’ll ever be, thanks to months of intense training. But here’s the thing: I trained so hard, and was such an uncompromising perfectionist, I skipped a lot of stuff that would have contributed to my overall wellness, to include trips to wineries with friends, and even a ski trip to Tahoe. Focusing so single-mindedly on a time goal meant I achieved that goal at the expense of almost everything else.
Like Jenn, I recently moved from Washington, D.C., to a new area—for me, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., a cool little city at the foot the Adirondacks. Though I’m continuing to split my time between here and D.C., I consider Saratoga Springs to be my primary home. Here are just a few things about this place that make it feel easy to focus on health and wellness versus fitness:
The pace of life is relaxed. My husband, who’s from Colorado, always complained that D.C. was too fast-paced. I grew up in New Jersey, and insisted that you have to set your own pace, rather than getting caught up in whatever happens to be going on around you. This is one of those rare, rare instances in which I’m happy to admit that he’s right, or at least that we are both right. People here leave work at 5 or 5:30. I haven’t heard of anyone working weekends. It’s easier to hang up the “gone fishin’” sign when everyone else is out on the lake with you.
Local is a way of life. We hadn’t even moved here yet, and people were telling us about all the wonderful local produce and dairy. “You can get bottled milk delivered to your front door,” said a real estate agent as she showed us an apartment we were considering renting. “And at Stewart’s, they actually combine milk from a bunch of different local farms and bottle it, then sell it at their shops.” There are garden stores all over the place. The farmer’s market runs year-round, twice a week during the summer. There’s a local you-pick blueberry farm with 19 varieties of blueberries. Did you know there were 19 varieties of blueberries? (I didn’t, either, before I moved here).
“Community” is more than just a cheesy cliché here. We live in a bright green house built in 1896. It has a gorgeous front porch, and in the evening, we like to sit on it and say “hello” to our neighbors as they walk by. I am not making this up—this is an actual thing that happens in our neighborhood. The day the movers brought our stuff, leaving it in giant heaps of chaos on our (1896 original hardwood) floors, a neighbor knocked on our door to bring us ice cream to welcome us to our new home. No joke. The ice cream probably wouldn’t have been on my 2009 training diet, but I’m pretty sure the whole experience added a year or so to my life.