Fitness is a State of Mind

Attitudes like “I’m too old to exercise”, “Why should I exercise when I don’t need to lose weight” or “I’ll just take a diet pill” are mental obstacles that keep people unfit and overweight. Here are the attitudes I wish people had about fitness so they can improve the quality of their lives.

Looking the best you can is a pleasant side effect but it isn’t the most important reason why you should exercise. Exercise is a vital part of being healthy. It is something that you cannot do without if you want your body to operate in tip-top shape.

Long ago, there was no need to make a conscious effort to exercise because strenuous physical activity was part of daily life. Today, we live under abnormal conditions because our bodies are made for hard physical labor and, in fact, thrive on vigorous activity, and yet, our lifestyles don’t demand anything more taxing than moving a computer mouse or texting on a cellphone. The result is that our bodies deteriorate prematurely as we grow older and we fall prey to lifestyle diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

Someone once said, “Exercise is optional but movement is essential”. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym. It can also mean dancing, doing martial arts or sports, housecleaning, and gardening. Keeping physically active is what is important. Walk whenever you can. Climb stairs instead of the elevator. Purposely be “inefficient” by talking the longer route to your mall destination.

Choosing a workout that you enjoy is powerful motivation to exercise for the rest of your life. But you should also have the right attitude. The people who are the most consistent exercisers are those who think of their workouts as a pleasurable reward for their bodies. Even if you enjoy your workout, if you believe that exercise is punishment for eating too much or being overweight, you will not be truly committed.

Young and old
Exercise isn’t just for the young. On the contrary, the older one gets, the more important it is to exercise. Just like a brand-new car doesn’t need much maintenance, the ill effects of not enough physical activity are not obvious when you are in your teens and twenties.

The older you become, just like an old car, the more you need regular tune-ups. Unfortunately, unlike a car, there are no spare parts for your body that you can easily buy at your local car shop. All the more reason that you should exercise to keep your body in good running order.

For every “body”
Everybody needs to be physically active. That includes people who are naturally thin. Research shows that slim unfit people are more likely to die of all causes than overweight fit people.

Exercise is not just for healthy or able-bodied people. Even if I lost both my legs tomorrow in a car accident, I would not stop working out because there are exercises to keep what would remain of my body in excellent shape. Being physically handicapped doesn’t mean that exercise is not relevant. Under those conditions, it becomes an even greater priority.

The same goes for people with special health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, etc. You are not expected to do the same exercises as athletes or people without your condition. But there are definitely exercises that are appropriate and beneficial.

I once saw an ad for a fitness center that said “The dictionary is the only book where success comes before work”. I would be a liar if I told you that there is such a thing as instant fitness or instant fat loss.

The truth is that discipline, self-control and consistency are the keys to success. This is true not only for fitness but also for everything else in life.

You can win the lotto tomorrow and have instant wealth but there is no guarantee that you will be able to keep it unless you have the discipline and self-control to invest it wisely.

The truth is painful but if you accept it, it will set you free to be fit and slim (not meaning a size “small” but whatever is a healthy size for your height and build) for the rest of your life.

Body appreciation
I feel so sad when I hear people say negative things about their bodies. It used to be mostly women who would say these terrible things but now I am hearing more men indulge in negative “body talk” too. Not content with that, people say negative things about other people’s bodies also.

Words are powerful. How can you encourage yourself to stick with your exercise program if you are constantly criticizing your body shape, size or fitness level?

Love and appreciate your body by saying kind things to it. Focus on the positive changes that your body is going through when you exercise. Do not deny the negative aspects of your body but do not get obsessed over them either. Your body is a gift from God. Treat it with the respect it deserves.

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