How Long Should We Stay at Fitness?
We all start somewhere. Where we end up is most important. The fitness lifestyle of the great Jack Lalanne started with him being an out of shape kid addicted to sugar, This was the beginning of a career with many star-studded accomplishments But his last day was his best. He was still doing his two hour workout, supplementing and dieting on the day that he died at ninety-six.
Where are we all at today, and where do we see ourselves heading? Some of us are just starting off, never having been into fitness at all. Unlike our peers back in high school, we were never out for a sport. Therefore we do not know what the athletic kids went through, what they got told, how they felt about winning. Yet, a few years of effort today can make up for what was missed back then; and that can catapult into an exciting way of life.
Or, today, some of us may be running scared because we have been given the doctor threat. This goes something like "if you don't lose fifty pounds by Christmas you may not live to trim the tree. " Generally it is not quite that drastic. It comes more often in a mild form such as the threat of diabetes; but that is bad enough. Often that will make us drop the excess pounds. The only trouble is that this threat loses its force once the danger zone is past.
Still others of us (baby boomers, mainly) have been told by our MD that we are healthy . But, we think there really should be something more. In other words, we believe that being healthy in today's understanding is not "as good as it can get." Granted, we may look good in our clothes (fit into normal sizes), have standard doctor-visit tests within acceptable parameters, and have no bad habits. But we have always aspired to look like our favorite movie stars, "How can I get that way, " we ask. The answer is simple : get into a fitness lifestyle and resolve to never get off of it.
Most everyone knows that a fitness lifestyle will work wonders, It is this last part of the sentence which causes difficulty, namely "never getting off of it." This suggests a life sentence--something even an MD feels bad talking about. Nevertheless, the "life sentence" is the aspect of fitness that needs to be stressed. On again off again, cutting back after finding your match on EHarmony, or retiring when you get too old are not only uninspiring, but just plain major causes for quitting. What needs to be thought of instead is that Lalanne was doing two hour a day workouts through his ninety-sixth year. That is, he was doing his daily routine on the day that he died. How many of us will be spoken of the same?
For us to stay at fitness for a virtual forever, there needs to be another way to think about what we do--something different than the prison imagery of "life sentence." Instead, fitness should be thought of as no different than the brushing of our teeth. We expect that we will do this on our last day, even if given only a week to live. That is only right, so we think. Yet that same type of thinking borders on fanaticism when it comes to fitness. Why?
Perhaps it is due to the media and AMA which glorify the life of ease with its grocery store food, alleged harmless treats or indiscretions, and retirement to sunny Florida. That is supposed to be the essence of the American good life, a richly deserved reward after a lifetime of work and child-rearing. How much better than life in the Congo this may be, but is really "as good as you can get?"
A fitness lifestyle (of diet, supplementation and exercise) makes everything else better. It is as simple as that. Do it and everything else that you do goes more smoothly. Do not do it, and feel less inclined to enjoy the other aspects of your life. In other words, being into fitness is the same as being all about quality of life. Lalanne invested eighty of his ninety-six years professing this. All of his accomplishments were secondary-- his books, TV shows, health clubs and Mr America trophy. Nevertheless, his greatest gift to us was his commitment through the end.
Thus, if asked how long we are going to be at fitness, we should answer "Forever." We certainly would say that when it comes to brushing our teeth. We would never expect to miss doing so even if given only a week to live. Being that way when it comes to fitness would make us in part just like Jack Lalanne.
For further thought about fitness as an ongoing way of life order my e-book "Think and Grow Fit."