Not everyone needs a deep philosophy in order to strive for better fitness, and ultimately health, yet this just might help some of you. For me, it is fundamental, and helps guide my actions on a daily basis, and the advice of No-brainer Fitness.
So allow me to state what I consider to be fundamental aspects of being human we must come to grips with in order to be optimally healthy. I call those “Principles” for what follows…
First Principle: We are animals. Animals with big brains, to be sure, but animals nevertheless.
Second Principle: Evolution is real. We have been, and continue to be, subject to evolution. That’s how we’ve inherited our animal bodies, and big brains.
Third Principle: We can be masters of our impulses. That’s where the big brains comes into play, in a variety of ways.
Fourth Principle: Sometimes we need help. There’s no shame in that; it’s called being human. Also something our big brains should be useful for.
So let’s have a bit of an explanation, for now, of those Principles (you can be sure that I will come back to these topics in future posts):
First Principle: Our bodies are part of nature, not something outside of it, different from it, or “above” somehow. We have faculties that set us apart somewhat in terms of what we are capable of, but they do not give us any special rights or dominion. If anything, with great power comes a fiduciary mandate to use it well (a.k.a. “great responsibility”).
Take for evidence how our closeness with our pets. This is in large part because we recognize in them aspects of ourselves. Many other species on Earth exhibit aspects of what we call human characteristics. Another piece of evidence: studies show that we recover faster from illness and surgery when afforded a view of nature…
Second Principle: our bodies are what they are because they have been shaped by the blind forces of genetics and nature. This has shaped what our bodies are able to do, what they need to thrive, but also how our minds work. Through hundreds of thousands of years we have become equipped with the means to be the dominant species on the planet, and to do away with much that was limiting in our natural environment.
In our current environment, this leads to two main types of problems: a loss of health due to over-consumption of previously scarce ressources (the modern diet), and widespread (and at times engineered) opportunities to distract ourselves from what would be well adapted behavior (lack of movement). A big brain that comes at least partially programmed to “take it easy” and eat as much as possible of things that are pleasant can be a terrible burden.
Third Principle: Given the first and second principles, it is very tempting to just give up, to admit defeat and say “that’s how things are, so it is not MY fault. BUT: as animals who have evolved to possess quite impressive intelligence, we actually have what it takes to deal with the situation.
A big chunk of it consists in using that intelligence, and an understanding of what drives us and what we need, to effectively fight the instincts and impulses that tend to cause us to not move enough and eat too much of the wrong things. It is possible; many of us are already doing it. We are all capable of doing it.
Fourth Principle: But let’s be fair: it is not easy. I’ll be the first to admit it (you can be second): sometimes I need help to get me up and moving, or to resist that brownie for dessert (or instead of a proper breakfast, for that matter). There is no shame in being helped, and it is only right to be the help at times as well.
That help can take many forms, including laws to reduce certain negative influences or promote positive ones. But that is often counter-productive because of the fight against powerful, established interests, and, more importantly, the natural tendency of all of us to resist change that is imposed on us.
Acting one on one to change our habits and help each other is an essential, albeit longer-term, part of the battle. Vote with your forks, shoes, and wallets, everyday, and we will all be the change we need…
We have the brains, let’s make the most of them!
Photos from Pixabay.