I was watching a stand-up comedian one day doing a bit about people at the gym. He was not a particularly in-shape guy, and he was talking about how he can’t stand seeing fit people at gyms crowding up the place and taking all the equipment, “Like if you have abs, what are you still doing here? You’re done! Go home!” The comedian, whether he knew it or not, was calling out one of the most common misconceptions people have when they begin their fitness journeys: that one day you will be done.
For many of us, there is some point we feel like we must arrive at with our health — like hitting a number on the scale — in order to be happy. And having fooled ourselves that the number on the scale will solve all our problems, we think when we get to said number, we will cross a finish line and go about our lives again. It’s this line of thinking that would cause us to think that the number on the scale is the only thing that matters. And unfortunately, this sets us up for failure.
The number on the scale (or whatever external goal you use) is only an indicator of your progress towards health; it is not the end in and of itself. If I lose twenty pounds by starving myself and crash dieting, I may have lost weight, but I did not become healthier. In fact, I became less so.
Most people tend to look at health and fitness as something they get. But in reality, it’s something you must become. You don’t get a fit and healthy body. You become fit and healthy and in turn, get the body in the process. The implications of becoming as opposed to getting means you will need to continually embody and develop the traits that got you your results long after you got the results in the first place. The same way marriage doesn’t end at the wedding or parenthood at the delivery table. It begins there. What follows is a lifetime of fulfilling the role. It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the same with fitness.
Right now, in the middle of a pandemic, it’s easy to spot the people who are trying to get fit as opposed to those committed to becoming fit. They are the ones that equate gyms being closed with meaning they can’t workout. They have gained weight through lockdown because they sit at a desk and on the couch with little physical activity and way too much snacking. And they are telling people that “as soon as things go back to normal,” they will get back in shape. They are consuming all manner of negative information that feeds fear and disempowers them.
This is called fair-weather fitness, when you’re only able to get and stay in shape when things go well. Compare this to those who are becoming fitter, even through the weird turbulent times we are living in. These are the people who understand that the very definition of fitness is the ability to adapt, not wait for the storm to pass (and the treadmills to be available).
It’s easy to spot these people too. They are in the garage, living room, or backyard working out. They are a little out of their routine because this isn’t an ideal situation, but they understand that their best option is to keep moving forward even if it might be slower or more inconvenient. They are still cooking, prepping, eating healthy, and training hard. They know that besides not being able to go to the gym, nothing is really keeping them from continuing to make progress towards becoming healthier. They can still sweat, go on walks, and eat healthy. And in fact, the more they do, the better and stronger their immune system will be.
They are focusing on what they can control and not getting too caught up in the rest. When you know there isn’t a finish line, you never have to stop. spt