Fitness. Everybody’s favorite word to describe how long and far they can run. Or how much weight they can lift over their head. Or how many times they can pull themselves up to some arbitrary bar that is inconveniently set between their master bedroom and the hallway. “Hey you see that pull-up bar? I can squeeze out 20 pull-ups now…No big deal.” Cue rolling eyes and lack luster, “Oh, that sure is something,” response.
So how do you define fitness and why should it matter?
My honest answer is that it doesn’t matter, not for everyone at least. And that’s fine. Everyone has their own interests and physical activity is considered such a voluntary experience that it often falls into the categories of, I love it or I hate it. It’s not inherent for us to be in a constant state of motion or to be challenging our muscles to a point of fatigue. Or at least that’s how we feel. Physical training seems contradictory to our goals of stress reduction and freedom.
But what I would advocate is that we all would be a little happier, a little healthier, and a little more stress free if we added this obviously stressful activity into our lives. It’s physics, to get somewhere new you have to leave something behind and leaving your old self behind sounds like a good trade for a better body and healthy state of being.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, fitness is-the capacity of an organism to survive and transmit its genotype to reproductive offspring as compared to competing organisms…Ok, stay with me.
This basically means having the ability to survive and perpetuate your life forward. Physical fitness and health are pretty much inseparable. The more physically fit you are, the healthier you should be, in theory. Now sure there are extremes to this but speaking on averages, odds are that if we take a 30 year old American male with no medical ailments or diseases and take the same male and add in 30 minutes of physical activity every other day, the latter would have a better chance at staving off future health problems.
The science is always evolving behind nutrition and physical activity’s benefits to humans. There are a million different opinions and studies to support anyone’s position. So I will always strive to be an unbiased party and just provide neutral and generally well-accepted fitness and nutrition advice to help people reach their own specific fitness goal.
For me, my fitness journey began at about 10 years old, playing football for my grammar school team. That was the first time I was ever involved in a form of focused physical activity. As I grew older, I took charge of my own training. After graduating high school, playing football, basketball, and baseball weren’t an option anymore. So, I started running. I remember the first day I stepped on the treadmill thinking, let’s see how far I can go. 5 miles and 50 minutes later, I was hooked and my legs weren’t feeling as enthusiastic as I was. I kept running, almost every day, anywhere from 2 to 15 miles for some long runs. Running became my form of meditation. As strange as it sounds to people, the tougher the run, the more I loved it. Summer heat and humidity or winter snow storms, I was running outside.
A few years later I ran the 2012 Chicago Marathon and my running career ended. Not for any dramatic reason, I was just done and I felt like I needed to chase my next athletic goal. Enter weight-lifting and bodybuilding. I had weight-lifted throughout high school with my sports teams but man, I can’t describe to you how much I despised staying after school or getting there early to work out but on my own, I was motivated. I had an idea of the type of body and fitness level I wanted to achieve. So for the last 7 years Ive been in the gym almost every day, playing with weights and learning. Over the years Ive gotten better, more knowledgeable, and now as a certified personal trainer, former facility manager of a private personal training studio, and someone who has his own bodybuilding & nutrition coach, I think I know a few things that can help others. My body and fitness will always be a work in progress and I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied but that’s the fun part for me. It a never-ending chase. It’s a grounding method to help keep my head level and my momentum moving forward.
Enough about me. What should you do?
Start to move more. Eat in moderation. Thats it. As humans we love to complicate things. The fitness industry loves to do this even more in order to confuse the consumer into believing that you need their product or diet plan or whatever it is they’re trying to peddle. In reality what we need to focus on are the little steps towards healthy eating habits and a sustainable physical training regimen.
My 3 basic tips to start yourself on the path to a healthier lifestyle and fitter body:
- Move more than you currently are, on a daily basis.
- Eat less than you currently are, on a daily basis.
- Watch that sugar.
Seems simple right? Well that’s the point. I remember that the first step I took toward a healthier diet 10 years ago was removing sugary snacks from my daily consumption. Nowadays my pure sugar intake is probably around 10-15 grams of added sugar daily. To give you an example, a regular sized bottled soda has anywhere between 40-70 grams of sugar in it! I don’t even have sugar in my household and we use stevia as a sweetener. Stevia is an amazing option when you want to add some sweetness to food and its sold pretty much everywhere.
So take whatever you’re currently eating and reduce it by one. If you drink 2 cans of soda per day, try only having 1 per day for a week. Then the next week, try going with a diet version. The small steps add up and make it easier than going cold turkey with things that our body will crave. At least that’s what I believe to be a healthy and sustainable version of sugar reduction and other unhealthy snack habits.
The movement piece is a little simpler, just go outside, and start walking. If your already walking, then try and walk a little longer or farther. If your already doing that than start jogging here and there. Theres no magic formula and my best results have always come down to just committing to the simplest methods of training and nutrition. We all know how to lose the weight or what were “supposed” to do, we just don’t want to do it. We look for shortcuts and secrets that do nothing but waste our time and leave us confused as to why we’re still out of shape. We just have to commit to doing the work.
I’ll be writing more in-depth articles pertaining to types of training and nutrition based on your goals so don’t worry, I’ve got your back. My point with this article is to give you a good idea of how simple fitness and health can be. Don’t overcomplicate it for yourself and remember that anything worth having just takes time and effort. You will always look and feel as good as you truly believe you can.