What is fitness, really? I’m not asking for Webster’s definition. That’s going to give some vague smart mush about physical capabilities and yada yadas. The definition isn’t the word, it’s just a description. And it feels pretty unrealistic. I’m in my 30s, fitness ain’t the same as back in the olden days. Ain’t nobody got time for 90 minutes in the gym. Not if you’re working a 9-5 and got a spouse and kids and cats and need sleep and have side gigs. What is fitness? I’ll tell you what it’s not: It’s not sacrificing your sanity for a max deadlift.
Then again, who am I to demonize enjoying time in the gym? Fitness is subjective. Some people can make it work. There are people out there who can workout for 3 hours and still live life to the fullest. I’m not going to pass judgement on them because they’re better at managing their time than me. Maybe they’re more motivated. Or just plain better.
How about this…
Fitness is not a competition. If you can’t do something, don’t do it. Work for it. Earn it, but don’t try to do it just because you’re older brother can. Don’t think that your health is based on how you compare to others. That’s the enemy of joy. And it’s not going to help you. We all have a limit on energy, and there’s no reason to waste energy wishing you were more like someone else. Just be you, better version than yesterday. Growing, striving, thriving, failing, and then… doing it all over again.
But nooooo. We want to be fit. We want to be sporty. Look at Angelica and her perfect stomach. She never eats carbs and has 3 kids with straight As. Look at Chase and how consistent he is. He makes it look so easy. Social media makes it look so easy.
For so many of us, we don’t even try. We’re too busy looking at the people we can’t be, we fail to embrace our own capabilities.
I think it starts with changing our definition of fitness.
As for me…
My brother has won the CrossFit Games multiple times. He’s totally fit. I’ve spent hours in the gym with him. We enjoy working out together. He laps me in most workouts, destroys me in some, but we enjoy time together. Sure, one workout caused my body to go into some kind of shock and I cried for several days after. I didn’t quit, even though I wanted to. His fitness is superior to mine.
I say that with pride, mind you. He earned it. The guy is the most fit person I know.
But we workout together in life, too. We spot each other, give each other encouragement, and challenge one another to grow. Our conversations in the gym aren’t all that different than our conversations after our babies were born. Different topic, same tune. Same intentions.
What is fitness if it’s not encompassing complete capabilities? What good is strength if you can’t practice restraint? Why have endurance without perseverance? How valuable is your Grace time if you refuse to exhibit grace to others? Power isn’t just in output, sometimes it’s expressed by self-control.
I gotta change my definition of fitness, it’s also gotta factor in the remaining 23 hours of my day.
As for us…
Health is important. Physical health, and mental health. We honor men who throw kegs over high barriers, but rarely take time to pat someone on the back after sharing their emotions. Which one is harder? Does it matter? Is it a competition between the two? No. But, it’s also darn-well impressive when someone can express humility and grow. We need more encouragement. Let’s build each other up. Not just for their strength, but their willingness to admit weakness. Pride is lonely. We could go a long way to build together and smile together. Our fitness can be more about your ability to carry your kid’s bike at the end of a reluctant walk.
Everyone can be fit. But you can’t judge a fish off his ability to run a mile. Let’s embrace pure fitness. Let’s allow others to ask, what is fitness? And then help them find their own definition.
If you think I’m lowering the bar, or adding to the snowflake nature of our society. If this sounds like I’m advocating for everyone to get a trophy, then you’re missing the point. You want a trophy, cool. I got plenty in my life. I don’t know what happened to any of them. They don’t last. The relationships I made, those I still have. Those I cherish. I remember the work. I remember the reward. Not the metal or plastic.
We’re living in a society that deserves to be treated with dignity and helped, but somehow has been vilified when being in need. Weakness is embarrassing. Failure is shame.
- Make simple goals. Don’t over complicate your future.
- See fitness as a roller coaster, not an escalator. Accept the rhythm of your dance.
- Remember that fitness should be 24 hours a day, but sometimes that’s all about fitting this pizza in your mouth.
- Share victories and failures with friends. Find a support group.
Which brings us to Resiliency…
Different seasons require different definitions. Be adaptable. There’s nothing wrong with change. Nor is there a problem with starting over. You’re going to through hard times, sorry. But they don’t define you. How you persevere through them is who you are… and that’s what defines you.
I guess you could say, it’s also defines your fitness.