The greatest athletes at the peak of their careers are not necessarily healthier than an average punter. In fact, they might even be worse off because of the toll their sport is taking on the body. Leaning too heavily on performance will have a negative effect on health. And there’s a tax the high level athlete will eventually have to pay for their success.

Similarly, the most aesthetics pleasing body is not always the healthiest. A six pack is not the pinnacle of health. It too often comes with a tax on health.

The tax might not be due tomorrow. But there’s no escaping the reality that one day this price for success needs to be paid back. It’s the price for sacrificing health and longevity for a relatively short term goal.

One-dimensional goal: winning. Two-dimensional outcome: success with the tax on health. Great, if that’s the goal. High level athletes are ok with the sacrifice. Winning is worth the tax. That’s how sports work. That’s how you make it to the top.

In high paid athletes the tax isn’t necessarily a problem. Inconvenient? Sure. But apart from collision injuries to the head, they will have the money to pay most of the tax later in life.

But what about those of us who are not highly paid athletes? We can’t think like the athletes do. We can’t sacrifice overall wellbeing to win the ultra competitive local wrestling competition every year. It’s probably not worth the sacrifice. We can’t afford to pay the tax.

And even if we can, it’s worth asking, is this performance goal worth the price? There’s no right or wrong. But I know where I stand*.

Focus on being a healthy, well functioning human first. Have a bendable, but unbreakable foundation. Add performance (whatever this means to you) as much as you can without reducing function and health.

Let someone else win the wrestling.

*in the stands. Having a beer.

After taxes.
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash