“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” -Socrates
On a recent 1800 mile road trip, I found my thoughts wandering to the state of physical fitness in our country. By a myriad of both quantifiable and qualitative metrics and a legion of studies, physically fit people earn more money, have a generally higher sense of self worth, and strangers even believe them to have better leadership.
In the days of our ancestors, physical fitness was a sign to potential mates that we could survive catastrophe, provide for our family, and defend our home. Genetically, we are hard-wired to seek out and our own definition of “fit” and strive to obtain it ourselves.
So why the obesity epidemic? Why the increasing millions worldwide with sedentary-related disease, illness, and hardship unheard of mere generations ago?
Perhaps the answer is information overload. Maybe in trying to chase the promise of a Perfect Solution we ignore what we already know.
Here, as I condensed it in my mind are the three rules by which we ought to abide if we strive for Fitness.
1. Stop doing the things that make you weak.
At this point is anyone shocked to hear that sugary drinks, consumed regularly, contribute directly to obesity and diabetes?
Is anyone hearing for the first time that there’s a direct correlation between smoking and unhealthy lungs?
Do you believe that the family size bag of chips you bought to eat while you sit on your couch and watch football will contribute to your well-being?
Are the hours each day spent staring at screens–phone screens, TV screens, computer screens, video games–the very reason you “can never find the time” to work out?
Take five minutes and consider the things you do that make you weak. My mind runs over just typing this about the very things I know contribute to my own weakness, yet I continue to do them.
2. Do the things you KNOW you should be doing
You possess, at your very fingertips more training advice and free workout plans and diets than all of humanity ever combined has ever known. How can I be so sure? You’re reading this online.
I know I should eat healthier, I can simply google and read for 15 minutes. Shopping lists, budget considerations, and food preparation tips, detailed by experts and free for your use, if you chose to do what you knew you should be doing.
Say I don’t want to cough up the cash for a gym membership. Herschel Walker achieved a level of fitness that made him a Heisman trophy winner by doing push ups, pull ups, air squats and sprints. Those workouts are online free.
If I suffer from a genetic disorder or a thyroid condition or any of the other unfortunate diseases and afflictions that inhibit fitness, I can research and read of others or join an online community working together to solve our collective problem.
3. Give yourself a heaven to run toward and a hell to run away from
As an exercise, write down what your life could be like in three years if you stopped doing the things that make you weak and started doing what you know you should be doing. What would that person look like? What new things would they be able to do? What places would they be able to go to that are inaccessible to you as you write now? How would the way people perceive you change?
Now consider what your life would look like if you continue down the path of doing the things that you weak at an increased rate. If you continue to put off the things you know you should be doing, how bad can things get? How would you feel as you watch your life deteriorate with exponentially increasing rapidity?
Write down both, give them some thought, and set your aim on your goals. These goals are entirely by your own definition. Maybe you’re already in terrific shape and want to break a personal plateau. Maybe you’re so unfit that you’re completely bedridden, set a goal of standing on your feet, either assisted or unassisted. These goals are entirely up to you. Succeed by YOUR OWN DEFINITION OF FITNESS.
This article was difficult to write, not because I lack passion, but because I feel a personal indictment because there are many things I continue to do that make me weak. I fail to do many things that I know I should be doing. But there’s potential in that. The unknown potential contained in each of us cries out to be realized, if only we shift our aims and strive for our highest good.
Bonus: These rules apply to every aspect of your life.
Give it some thought. Let me know what you think, and seek greatness.