Fitness, I’m sure, has interchangeable definitions based on who you may ask. To me, it is powerlifting and eating to fuel my body. To my best friend, it is the sport of dance. To some, it is a complete lifestyle. And to others, it may be nonexistent. When people hear terms and phrases that coincide with fitness and health, they automatically associate them with something along the lines of eating healthy and going to the gym. While, yes, those are correct associations, they are only a small, basic aspect of what fitness can actually do for your life. Fitness is and should mean exceedingly more than just daily physical activity. It has changed many outlooks of life and has the ability to build a person into so much more than just somebody that is considered “fit.”
As aforementioned, people are often quick to assume that fitness is “just” something. It’s just going to the gym and doing curls. It’s just eating chicken and broccoli for lunch. It’s just getting “toned.” Like any other niche, fitness has obtained its own set of stereotypes. Once you enter the realm of physical activity, whether that may be bodybuilding, HIIT, powerlifting, crossfit or just training in general, you quickly realize that just is not the case at all. There are hundreds of thousands of factors that go into a person’s health and progression in the fitness world. It is more than just going into the gym and doing a set of bicep curls. It is copious research about how the body reacts to a certain amount of volume. It is how to personalize macros based on body type and training volume, it is science. It is trial and error, based on how your body reacts to certain exercises. It is goal setting, listening to your body, training your mind, and so much more. Just like everything else in this world, there are depths waiting to be discovered in fitness. There is so much to learn. Once you look past the surface of it all, you realize just how much more there is to it. This is the case inside and outside of the gym and kitchen. There are people that may be categorized or stereotyped as one thing or another but you have absolutely no idea what lies beyond until you dig deep enough to truly understand. There are things you may be hesitant to try because the very little facts you do know about them may not sound appealing to you. Do not miss out on things or people or experiences just because you did not necessarily like the two things you heard about them from some biased source. Life is so much more than just waking up and going through a boring routine. When you stop putting just on things, you stop limiting yourself and open up a new world of depth and new discoveries.
To continue the importance of stereotype destruction, I will move on to the idea of mental health. Some believe that fitness is strictly physical, a way for someone that is fat to get skinny, bulky to become toned, etc. In my case and many others, though, physical health was/is just a premise to mental health. Taking control of your physical health through fitness teaches you so much more about your inner strength than outer. Yes, hitting PRs is gratifying. Yes, losing those last 20 lbs may have been the highlight of your year. Yes, showing off your transformation makes you feel unstoppable. All of these ring true, but they mean so much more than just a physical change. They show that you have the ability to take control of yourself and your life and keep pushing, even when you do not believe you can. Fitness teaches you strength, true mental strength. When you have the drive and ability to get up in the morning and make that decision to eat right, or to go to the gym even when you are exhausted, that is when you are building yourself. Fitness teaches you that when you focus on the present and the good, the past and negative aspects will soon be minimized, slowly dissolving from your life. Take that strength and apply it to every facet of your life. Whether it is through fitness or not, wake up in the morning with that same drive. Push through the difficult times to become stronger.
Progress and Goals
When it comes to starting new things, the idea of unfamiliarity can be terrifying. This is especially true for me. I often times find myself leaning on what is familiar, relying on routine. While I’m not necessarily hesitant to go outside my comfort zone, I do sometimes encounter fear when it comes to new beginnings. For example, I wanted nothing more than to get my writing and thoughts out into the world. I wanted to start a blog, but once I started doing research and saw how great people were at it, how much time it takes, how much I still had to learn about website editing, I ran away. This was true until I was reminded how far I’ve come in terms of my own physical health. I was never scared to begin lifting weights because I never realized how much I would fall in love with the sport and how much knowledge I would actually obtain. I wasn’t afraid because I did not realize that one little baby step would turn into a million baby steps that would build me into a completely different person than I ever expected to be. Fitness teaches you that starting small can lead to something greater than you could have ever imagined. Goal setting is a huge aspect when it comes to progression in the world of fitness. As long as you work toward each goal, both short-term and long-term, baby steps and giant steps, you will come closer each time. It all starts with one decision. One decision that turns into another one that eventually will turn into a habit if you stick to it. Progress, in anything in life, can be slow. It can be demanding. It can feel like you are moving in the wrong direction at times, but as long as you keep moving forward, your work will pay off. The progress will show.
In the Progress section, I talked about my fear of other, far more experienced writers in the blogging industry. My first thought was that I’m clearly not as good as them nor will I ever be as successful as them. I think the idea of comparing oneself to others is almost natural, but it should not determine what comes next. Many people stray away from fitness because they are not “thin enough” or “strong enough” or whatever the case may be. Yes, I am guilty of comparing myself. I see a woman that is leaner and stronger than I am and yes I envy her. Does that mean I am going to throw in the towel and give up my own healthy lifestyle? Absolutely not. She may have started ten years before me. She may be an exercise scientist, 110% devoted to learning and teaching fitness. But in all honesty, I have no idea. This is the exact same for life outside the fitness industry. It is not fair to yourself nor to others to make comparisons or judgments. You have no idea what people do day in and day out. You don’t know what their genetics consist of, what their lifestyle consists of, how long they have been pursuing a goal, etc. Like in the gym, what works for one person may not work for you and that is okay. There are millions of factors that go into our lives that make it completely unrealistic to even try to compare ourselves or judge others. We are all extremely different from one another and need to focus on our own paths and how to progress individually rather than wondering how to be like somebody else.
Whether you have yet to begin or are actively working on your physical health, remember that there is so much knowledge that you have yet to absorb. Just start. Remember that improving yourself in one aspect of life can actually help you in other areas. Stay focused on your own definition, your unique path. Small changes can turn into tremendous successes.