We all believe in the importance of fitness. Heck some of us are selling it. But what is fitness, and how do you achieve it?
My idea of fitness is a broad one. It includes physical, intellectual, social and spiritual components. But my concept of fitness does not mean merely maintaining the status quo. To me, keeping fit means getting better: stronger, smarter, more flexible, more self-aware, more engaged, more fully human.
We aren’t designed to stand still; we are designed to move, to learn and to grow. True fitness means being able to cope effectively with the accelerating pace of change and the increasing complexity of this global village.
I find that my biggest barrier to developing a fitness routine is lack of motivation. I don’t even like the word “routine.” It just sounds so boring and isolated from my the rest of my life. I don’t want a fitness routine, I want a fitness lifestyle.
Even getting to the gym three times a week can become just another chore for many of us that absorbs way too much precious time and money. Kids raised in the country during the 1950’s, as I was, didn’t need any motivation to stay fit. We were on the move from sun up to sun down, running, climbing, crawling, balancing, lifting, and building our way through each day.
In that environment every moment was a fitness moment and the combination of all those moments created a natural, organic fitness lifestyle. I still believe that model of fitness to be the best. All that’s required is the addition of a little awareness and creativity. Most fitness moments add no additional time to your day but add a huge amount to the quality of your life.
Here are some are some guidelines and examples for building a fitness lifestyle, moment by moment.
- Be curious, ask questions, experiment. This attitude is innate in every kid. If it got squelched in you. revive it. For example, I never go on a diet. Instead I do open-ended dietary experiments like seeing what happens if I drink my breakfast every morning in a smoothie. Some of my experiments result in enough positive effects that they turn into habits. If they do, great. If they don’t, try something else. Everyone is different, so your fitness lifestyle will be unique to you.
- Multi-task. If I find myself standing in line or on a train, I do isometric leg exercises, even if I am also reading a book or listening to a podcast. If I am waiting for the microwave to beep, I do a couple of push-ups or other exercise on the side of a counter.
- Break a routine. Boredom is a big flag of opportunity signalling you to look at an unconscious routine with fresh eyes and find some aspect that you can turn into a fitness moment, like switching your tooth brushing or hair brushing hand.
- Sweeten the moment. We all know we should eat more dark leafy greens, but a salad for breakfast seemed too radical. However, adding raw spinach or kale to a morning fruit smoothie tastes great and is far healthier.
- Spice things up. A part of me responds well to challenges and competitions. I decided I wanted to lose a few pounds so I began keeping a spreadsheet, with a graphic chart of my post-shower weight every morning. Just that extra 30-seconds of record keeping is a fitness moment that helps keep me off the Haagen Dazs coffee ice cream.
I will be adding regular posts to this section of the blog and invite your comments and suggestions for fitness moments. How do you create your fitness lifestyle?