What does it mean to be fit?

Through open experimentation and habitual training, I have come to believe that fitness is an essential aspect of my life and my happiness in general. I truly believe that if you are not consistently working out that you are missing something irreplaceable.

Military Style Fitness by Benjamin Steele

Blog #47

I have basically come to believe that being fit means to not only be physically healthy, but also mentally and spiritually.

What you're about to read may sound a little brutal, particularly if you are a little (or a lot) out of shape, but I wanted to speak as honestly as possible on this one. This post comes as a result of two things: (1) noticing more and more how people generally don't value physical fitness and health like they should and (2) how fitness has increased my own quality of life substantially. 

I firmly believe that people who fail to prioritize fitness and overall healthiness are often less happy, less confident and unable to experience all that life has to offer. I believe that fitness is an essential element to living a successful and healthy life and want others to find that for themselves as well. Studies have shown that being overweight not only effects happiness, but that it even effects the length of life. According to a study by Oxford University, 'Moderate Obesity' (which is now common), reduces life expectancy by about 3 years, and 'Severe Obesity' (which is still uncommon), can shorten a person's life by 10 years. That 10 year loss is equal to the effects of a lifetime of smoking cigarettes. 

So...if being in poor physical health has such a negative impact on our lives, why aren't more people prioritizing the preventative measures? Why aren't more people discussing the problem? Why has the culture of "it doesn't matter how you look" developed?

I can tell you from experience that a life incorporated with fitness is happier life than one without. I also can tell you that I am a firm believer that most people are physically able to become relatively healthy and fit, regardless of their genetics. Here are a few more thoughts on the subject:

  1. You do not need to be a body builder or a model to be fit and happy.

We all have different genetics and therefore we all have different abilities and different boundaries. It's true that some people simply don't have the ability to look as physically good as others, however, as mentioned before, this is not an excuse. I am convinced that if you consistently go to the gym or exercise and eat healthily, you will eventually lose weight and build muscle. Yes, you may not look like a body builder or a super model, but you will look and feel like your best self. Personal fitness is not about comparing yourself to others and their progress, but comparing yourself today to yourself the day before. As long as you are improving your best self every day, than you are on the right track.

If you workout 2-3 times a week or less and eat unhealthily, then you have no room for excuses. If this is the case than it is ridiculous to blame your health on anything other than your lazy and unmotivated self.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said, "What we face may look insurmountable, but what I learned is that we are always stronger than we know." I agree with this quote. YOU are able to achieve more than you know. The only way you will discover the strength that you have is by pushing yourself in the first place. 

2. Going to the gym just a few times a week and giving a partial effort once you're there is NOT going to cut it!

If you want to look and feel great physically, I can guarantee that going into the gym just a few times a week for the month prior to beach season simply isn't going to cut it. I hear a lot of people claim that they are "trying to be healthy" because they occasionally eat chicken or salad and go to the gym a few times a week. If you really want to notice physical improvements, it's going to require MUCH more than a few times a week effort. To really see a difference, it will take attending the gym or exercising almost every day and eating healthily consistently. It's going to take doing these things for months on end. It's going to require jumping all the way in and committing, not just sampling the waters. 

"Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth." - Sylvester Stallone

3. Just because you are content with your weight doesn't mean that it's right.

Much of our society has fallen under the false assumption that it is "ok" to be overweight and unhealthy. That being overweight and unhealthy isn't necessarily anyone's fault, but that genetics are to blame. I'm telling you that in most cases this excuse is absolutely wrong!

Doing anything to shorten life and quality of life is wrong and should never be advertised as acceptable. One of the greatest gifts we have in life is our bodies and the freedom that they give us. I believe that it's almost disrespectful to God to not take care of ourselves. Not only that, but think about people who are actually unable to be completely healthy due to physical ailments or serious sicknesses. I'm sure they would do anything to be in our shoes and it's unfair to them to not take care of what we've been given. 

Try looking up healthy standards for someone your age and height to see how you compare. Once you know the baseline, record where you're at and make a plan improve. YOU are the only thing standing in the way of being in the best physical shape of your life. 

"Follow your dreams. If you have a goal, and you want to achieve it, then work hard and do everything you can to get there, and one day it will come true." - Linsdey Vonn 

You may feel that these things above are the basics; things that everyone should know. I would agree, but the data doesn't show this. According to a poll by Gallup, about 7 of every 10 American's are overweight or obese. Of those 7, only 36% actually believe that they have a weight problem. This means that not only is America ridiculously obese, but that many of them are in denial of that fact. This is simply unacceptable! 

I ran my first 10K when I was 11 years old and have been loved fitness ever since. Over the years I have tried a variety of exercises from running to lifting to CrossFit to martial arts to sports to hiking to skiing to military physical training and can tell you that they all types have impacted me positively. Setting aside just 45 minutes to an hour of your day everyday to do something physically challenging and controlling your diet will be two of the greatest decisions that you ever make in your life. Often starting is the most difficult step. Once you've been doing it as long as I have, it simply becomes a habit that I don't even have to think about anymore. Even after a long day of work it's not a question of if I'm going to exercise, it's just something that I do.  

"The real purpose of running isn't to win a race, it's to test the limits of the human heart." - Bill Bowerman

So this is my challenge to you. Take my words to heart and make a commitment to improve. If it helps, reach out to me (contactme@benjaminsteels.us) and I will do what I can to help you in your journey. If I have to email you every week to help, I'll be happy to do that. There are plenty of great places to get fitness and diet advice online, so let me know if you want any recommendations. I believe in you!

God bless,