Does Being Fit Mean You Are Healthy?


Written by Cyndi

Cyndi is about educating. Her greatest love is to teach, both in the public arena and within the large corporate food companies, to enable everyone to make better choices so they too can enjoy greater health throughout their lives. Considered one of the world's foremost experts in Nutrition, Cyndi brings over 40 years experience, research and knowledge.

October 23, 2018

At the Fitness Show at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, I had the opportunity to speak at the Wellness Hub, one of the stages at the show. It was not the easiest talk I have done as there was a lot of noise – music, barbells dropping, and hooting and hollering all around. Having said that, I had a dedicated audience that listened despite these many distractions. My talk was on reading a food label and focusing on the ingredients, highlighting many additives and what they actually mean. I also spoke about the importance of real food because we’ve lost our instinct to eat for fuel due to the abundance of food-like substances in the diet. A Noticeable Absence of Real Foods What I saw while walking around the show felt almost alien to me. Everyone was wearing the fitness uniform; young men and women were in tight and showy gear, and many of the women wore false eye lashes and had breast augmentations. On the positive side, it was so good to see young men and women exercising, challenging themselves, being proud of who they are and wanting to show the world. On the negative side, I saw a culture of exercise but not real nutrition, of ego but not self love, of looking but not thinking. Maybe my age is showing, but in the world we live in today with so much happening in health (or rather, I should say, sickness), I felt that while the fitness show was a wonderful start, there was so much more that could have been offered by taking a holistic view of health. For example, many of the stands were filled with protein powders, electrolyte drinks, supplements and the like.

Many of the supplements were synthetic and the protein powders came in all flavours and colours with massive marketing and advertising buzz words.

As I made my way around each stall, reading the ingredients, I was filled with despair. All the protein powders had the word ‘natural’ – natural colour, natural flavours – (which has no meaning in our food standards code), and thickeners, fillers and artificial sweeteners were also plentiful. The supplements were mainly synthetic and the electrolyte drinks much the same. As far as I could see, the beef jerky and the Changing Habits products were the only real foods there. I had some time to talk to some of the institutions that were offering diplomas for personal trainers in their skill and nutrition. I asked the basic questions as to what they were teaching in nutrition. Every answer referred to the dietary guidelines, focusing on fats, carbohydrates and proteins. There was no mention of the ingredients of a product. I mused about the young people at the show and thought about when they get married and have children. My children are in their mid to late 20’s, so my childbearing days weren’t that long ago, yet there was no thought or fear of autism, hyperactivity, allergies, or food sensitivities for the child you were bringing into the world. But now there is a real chance that a child could have one of these maladies. In fact, over 40% of children in Australia have a life-long illness. The Importance of the ‘Real Food Mantra’ So, does being fit mean you are healthy? After the weekend, I don’t think the two necessarily fit together. When the show The Biggest Loser was on television my favourite part was when they showed what the contestants ate, or the contents of their fridge and pantry – this made up about 1% of the program. The show was mostly about the exercise but not much about the food. If there was a food aspect, then it was a challenge with food-like substances or talking about calorie in and calorie out or watching the amount of carbs, fats and proteins that were consumed. I read the research that was done on the contestants after the show and many had put the weight back on and gone back to their old ways. They were not being taught a sustainable outcome. We took our registered training organisation, the The Nutrition Academy, to the Fitness Show to break into a market that is about fitness but not necessarily about health.

I would love to see more personal trainers teaching the real food mantra rather than promoting the protein powder, meal replacement culture.

When it comes to health, we must consider where our food is sourced, the agricultural ramifications for our food, what we put on our skin, what chemicals we use in our home and our overall impact on the planet and how we can leave it better off than when we arrived. I’m not so sure that my generation has done this, but for the younger generation I see a glimmer – it’s there in other presenters on the Wellness Hub stage at the Fitness Show and in my adult children. They are all talking about living a life that’s real, eating real foods, taking time out for oneself and generally making sure (as my dear friend Kim Morrison says in her book The Art of Self Love) that we stay within the power of the self-love circle. That is, remaining self aware, and promoting self care, discipline, control and respect, not only for ourselves, but for others and the planet.

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  1. Min Benstead

    AMAZING ARTICLE, thanks so much Cyndi

  2. Linda

    How true you are Cyndi about people working out in Gyms. I am 66 and attend a gym. The young people there dress to the nines for their session, strut their stuff but spend copious amounts of time on their iPhones. There is no self love there and I think they are exercising for all the wrong reasons. At our gym there is a dietician you can see but I just wonder how many do.


    Hi Cyndi, I had the fortunate opportunity to be introduced to you via the Edwina Murphy-Droomer series (which I am loving and have watched each interview). I love what you have to say about in the blogs – Does Fit Mean Healthy and Nutrient rich foods. Thank you for opening my eyes to a more rich healthy, whole foods lifestyle. I have been health conscious most of my adult life, but following the typical health guidelines of the 80s and 90s. I now feel more informed to make the right whole food health choices.

  4. Avril Marten

    Very interesring. I agree with you. Being fit and young is definately not healthy. Health is something that takes alot of hard work. Fitness is only a part of health.

  5. Penelope Curtis

    The Food industry has so much to answer for. I have followed Cyndi’s advise ever since I heard her talk in the UK and have her book Changing Lives, Changing Habits. CADA is on the table every day! In the 1940′ s when UK still had rationing and folk grew their own veg teenagers were fitter and stronger than today. They ate real food!
    Thank you Cyndi!

  6. Joy

    Great article. I fall off the wagon periodically in both eating well, exercising and self care, but clamber back on. I never give up. It is a challenge to have all aspects of good health working in sync. Up for a chat podcasts are a fabulous source of support and open up so many other avenues. Thanks big time. 💕

  7. Ed Groenhart

    Totally true: the problem was highlighted by a bariatric surgeon I heard speaking at a conference last year, who said that almost every commercial diet plan failed within 5 years with the clients return to the same (or higher) weights. Very few are holistic, if any, but focus on the individual being strict with calories etc, leading to most dieters hating themselves for “failing”.

  8. Jennifer Spencer

    So very well said Cyndi. People are so influenced by advertising which is the aim of course, but those products are not nurturing people.

  9. sue domselaar

    I was at your talk at the Fitness expo. I loved it, thankyou for your inspiration.

  10. Annie

    I found your observations of the culture around fitness interesting Cyndi. So important for the real food message to be incorporated into PT curriculums and at events like this so this evidence can be shared


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