I have to admit as I write this that I have been struggling lately with my overall fitness. When I say overall, I mean physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. Don’t worry, I’m not in melt down. I just know that I could be better in each of these areas and I know that each one affects the other.
With that in mind I started to look at what it is that is keeping me from reaching a peak level or even in some cases just getting started on a better path. Here’s what I came up with when I kind of stepped out of my own situation and took a bird’s eye view of things.
- My targets were all in the past. I’ll explain in more detail later.
- I wasn’t practicing gratitude on a regular basis.
- At this point in my life I have gained a wealth of knowledge which I am not applying.
- Sometimes the first step is really the toughest one by a long shot.
- Complacency is a real dream killer.
My targets were all in the past
If you’re 25, which I’m not, trying to get back to that special time when everything clicked in life may not be that difficult. In your early twenties, you have physical resilience on your side. Dropping 25 pounds is as easy as going for a few runs and adding a couple of good workouts in at the gym. Your body will respond in kind and reward you with physical fitness. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually at 25 you haven’t accumulated enough life experiences(sorry, I know you don’t believe this now but one day you will) to make you jaded or skeptical about the possibilities of life. Let’s face it… in your early twenties life is your oyster and everything is within the realm of possibility. That’s probably why when we reach our 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s, we look back longingly at the good old days. It’s OK to look back and cherish those days. Memories are what make us who we are to this point in our lives. The good ones and the not so great ones.
In a few short months(and yes they seem shorter the older I get), I will turn 55 years of age. I am as Zig Ziglar used to say; decidedly overweight. I have never eaten too much by accident. I am in relative terms still fairly young and yet, I would like to extend that as long as possible. I figure, I am at about the half way point in this journey called life. I know that if I stay on the path of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health I am on, the second half of my life gets a whole lot shorter. I also know,despite what anyone would have me believe, I cannot ever get back to how I looked when I was 25 years of age. That does not mean I can’t be healthier than I was then. It’s just that my body has more miles on it. I have more muscle mass than I did at that point(even though statistically we lose 2% every 5 years after 25). I weighed in at 148 lbs during one particular point in my early twenties while on a serious running binge. I promise you, I will never weigh that again. And, when I honestly look back at that time, I was not particularly healthy, just skinny. Today, I have a lean muscle mass(weight minus adipose tissue or fat) of 172 lbs. I can’t safely, healthfully, get back to a weight that is less than that. Nor should I try. In fact according to the American College of Sports Medicine(ACSM) an above average male age 50 – 59 should have a body fat % of 15.3 to 17.8. Apply that to my current lean muscle mass and that’s 198 to 203 lbs.
There in lies part of the problem…
I would guess based on experience, I am not alone in this path of thinking when it comes to health goals. Staring at the past, wishing you could be that again. Let’s face it, when things aren’t exactly what you expected in life, it becomes easier to look back at times when things seemed at least on the outside to be pretty good. I am not ever going to be that 25 year old guy I remember. No matter how much I wish it to be, it’s just not going to happen… unless someone actually does create a time machine. Problem is, we don’t really have a very good sampling of role models for what is possible as we age. Sure, there are a few living examples of what’s possible if we apply ourselves in the second half of life but look around and it’s much easier to find models of poor health.
Where does this leave you and me? Decide what it is you want. Be realistic( perhaps slightly unrealistic is OK). Don’t try to get back to something in the past because that’s where it is and you can’t go back there. Remember, if you’re running forward looking backwards, eventually you are going to get hurt.
I wasn’t practicing gratitude on a regular basis
One of the things I have learned for certain is that the sooner and more regularly you are grateful for what you already have, the sooner you will have more to be grateful for. I like to keep a Gratitude journal. I try to sit with it every day for just a few minutes, preferably in the early morning and jot down ten things or so I am grateful for in my life and why.
We spend too much time focused on what we don’t have and that leads to more “not having” and eventually causes us to stop even trying.
I’m going to pick up a new one today!
At this point in my life I have gained a wealth of knowledge which I am not applying
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that life will teach you things if you let it. I will be the first to tell you not to let your life experiences limit you and yet I will also suggest you let them guide you. For example, if you hate running and always have, your first choice of a path to health should probably not be running. That’s not to say you can’t learn to love running but if you’ve tried multiple times to get into it to no avail, move on to something that does get you going.
In 2005 I began a journey, a knowledge quest, to learn as much as I could about health and fitness. I have certifications in everything from life coaching to nutritional coaching to personal training and beyond. My plan at that time was to make a transition away from the business I was in, to the personal development industry. I have done some personal training here and there in those 10 years but never really transitioned in to a full time profession. What I did really get and continue to this day is expert level knowledge of all things personal development. My point? Oddly enough, I chose not to apply what I learned on the person who should be my number one daily priority… myself. The good news is, I don’t have to travel too far to find an expert to help me out!
Sometimes the first step is really the toughest one by a long shot
The blessing or curse with being an expert in an area you are personally struggling with is that you know what lies ahead including the pain(spelled S-O-R-E-N-E-S-S) you encounter and the effort required. That means before you even begin, its easy to give yourself excuses as a preemptive strike to avoiding the impending discomfort. The older you get the busier you are and the more stuff you can do instead of getting healthy. This is one place where you just have to apply that blindness of youth and just do it. The truth is, if you’ve been active at other points in your life, once you get rolling the feelings you get from working out or being active will kick in and help keep you going, but you have to begin.
Complacency is a real dream killer
Why should I exercise? I’m not in that bad of shape. It’s only 50 lbs of extra body weight. There are lot’s of other people that are way worse off. I just don’t feel like it. I really just want to go home after work and watch my favorite shows, and maybe some YouTube, and maybe some Facebook time and every other mindless thing I can think of.
At some point you and I have to realize that our time on this planet we call home is short. Life is meant to be lived, not survived. Why would you want to sit back and watch other people live the life you dream of?
Isn’t there something… anything that you would really like to do that doesn’t include sitting there in your chair slowly dying?
Create a juicy new future based on what you don’t already know about. You cannot ever, ever, ever go back. Trust me. And if you could, what would that prove because everything else that was in your life back then would have moved forward to the present where you are right now. To me it only makes sense that this… would then be the point from which you would want to start. If you were running a 100 mile ultra marathon and you were at mile 98 you wouldn’t want to go back to mile 2 and start all over again. Why would you want to do that with anything else in your life?
Take what you’ve learned to this point in life and start from here, right where you are. That’s what I’m doing.