Discipline: The 5 Practices – Practice 3

Exercise, Health, Discipline, Balance

Balance, a key aspect of health. It starts with how you approach exercise…

This practice is short, and you may see it as an extension of the previous practice, but since it can be applied separately, I chose to treat it this way.

The practice is deceptively simple, and it is possible that only few will relate to it. It may be because it is nowhere near applying to you, in which case that’s great. It may be because you are denying it, in which case I hope this short discussion will at least raise some flags in your mind.

Here it is: Maintain the balance.

As you exercise regularly, perhaps even train in a specific sport like running or triathlon, allow yourself to relax from time to time.

In other words: Don’t be a “stick-in-the-mud” always focused on your training. Allow yourself some leeway, through activities with family and friends or even by doing other sports just for fun.

Too many sports or fitness enthusiasts, particularly if they discover such physical activities later in life, go overboard and spend way too much of their time, energy, and money, pursuing exclusively that activity.

Many call it “having a passion”; however, although I’m no psychologist, from the perspective of a coach it smells a lot more like “being obsessed.” It is as if the new-found activity is a pressure release valve from something else (everything else?) in life. And it ends up taking too much space.

Or the activity is taken so seriously that it prevents the spreading of the joy of moving to others. I’ve seen it: Perfectly good opportunities to share one’s enjoyment of, say, running, with a partner or friend because it is not “optimal training.” What a shame! Partners/family and friends should come first, at least some of the time.

(Shameless plug: I did write about training with a spouse or life partner before. It is worth reading, if you can spare the time…)

Let’s be clear: If you do not move everyday, if you do not exercise regularly, you need to move more. That’s what you need to do to obtain and maintain the balance that you’ve been missing so far.

If you are in that group of folks who move a lot, and then move some more, and spend lots of time and money on your sport/training, you need to take a step back and relax a little.

Because going overboard in anything is unhealthy.

Especially if the focus is on looking a certain way, or performing to a certain level. That is unhealthy in so many ways that it warrants an entire post of its own. So I’ll leave it for now.

Passion is fine, though I would reserve that for sentiments like love, and perhaps an over-arching goal in life. Most of the time, what is described as a passion is in fact a fixation, an obsession.

Consider: If a key part of getting fit is to pay close attention to how our bodies feel, then it stands to reason that we should also pay close attention to how our minds are doing.

Listen to your body, and to your mind; both will tell you how exercise is making them feel. Beware of a mind that constantly turns to training, that finds refuge there from other aspects of life. Remain in control; maintain the balance.

The easiest way to achieve this is to relax, take things less seriously. And keep a clear order of the priorities in your life.

Picture from Pixabay.

What is “fitness”? (Part 3)

If you’ve read parts 1 and 2, your patience will now be rewarded.

(If you haven’t read the previous posts, well, too bad, but before judging this one, perhaps you should read the others.)

In the first two posts of this series, I covered some definitions of fitness that I feel should be rejected as inadequate for today’s reality.

We remain animals, but the measures of fitness that come from biology are probably not the best we can use given all that we’ve done to ease our lives, mostly by changing our immediate environment and the conditions of our lives.

Training too hard, which I feel is in compensation for feeling like something is wrong with our current lifestyle, is fraught with perils. It may work for a small portion of the population, but not for the majority. Also, all too often it focuses on the visual aspect of our bodies, which in itself is a bad idea. Those forms of obsessions are damaging to our health.

So my key point, the conclusion I’m proposing, is that we need a new definition of fitness. One that makes sense today, and for everyone. Let me give it to you without further ado:

Fitness = Sustainable Activity

Think of it this way: Fitness should be about our ability to go about our regular activities without undue difficulties. It should be about being able to handle the variable demands placed on us by life. It should also be about being able to do so for a good long time. You know, as in living a healthy, active life, well into Old Age.

In essence, we need to do enough physical activity, train ourselves through movement, to enable our bodies to be healthy without negative consequences. If our occasional exercise regimen causes us to have problems functioning through the rest of our daily activities, we are not really being fit: We’re being extreme once again.

It is a fine balance, but one that is well worth seeking. And one that requires constant vigilance, not just the occasional bout of intense training and/or dieting as compensatory measures for too much time spent watching TV and eating nachos…

It has been repeatedly demonstrated that physical activity is the key to health, both physical and mental. This is a topic we will explore at length in No-brainer Fitness. For now, please accept it as a factual premise.

Incidentally, the sustainable level of activity that is fitness is highly individual. Some can, and will, do more than others. You like running marathons, and are doing so in such a way as to remain healthy, then by all means, go ahead! In fact, and I’ll come back to that in other posts, you’d be surprised at what each and everyone of us is capable of.

Some, therefore, will be very active; others, less so, yet much more than they currently are. Some will lose a lot of weight, over time, while others may lose less. What matters most is to seek one’s own balance, without falling into the trap of obsession and extremes.

In fact, the only obsession that makes sense, is that of seeking balance.

How do we get there? How do we build this fitness we’ve just defined? That will be the subject of my next post, and probably many more after that, outside of this series, which is now at an end…