America is losing the war against obesity. Healthy food is expensive; junk food is cheap. In a highly technological environment, sedentary lifestyles have become the norm. Busy-ness is at an all time high. An information-drenched society uses its mind so much that it is disconnected from the body that houses it. When fathers are trying to pay bills, get the kids to and from school, daycare, practices, and clubs, maintain their relationship with their partner, and advance in a highly competitive world, working out often finds itself bumped to the bottom of the priority list. With all of these challenges and responsibilities, why does physical fitness wind up festering in a foil burger wrapper on the floor of our backseats?
There are a number of attitudes which keep our cholesterol numbers in the red and add dread to our doctor visits.
Overwhelmed into apathy. Current American society is rapid-fire. Decency, empathy, and human connection are often trampled by a mutated version of “progress.” So much of our society is built upon the study, struggle, and effort of those who have gone before us. If we do not possess an awareness of our history, then we will have trouble understanding the basic foundations that comprise our daily life (political, sociological, religious, technological). As people are overstimulated into an inability to make healthy decisions, evaluate their own behavior, or live thoughtful lives, the concept of personal value is often out of reach. Basic life skills can, almost accidentally and without knowledge, be abandoned in view of a constant convenience.
Media Immersion Can Lead to Self-consciousness. When everyone you see on the television or on the movies has a near perfect body, your image in the mirror can be a real slap in the face. If a majority of our interaction with other people is viewing them in magazines or television or film screens, then we get an erroneous idea about what is the norm. If these concepts make you feel that being physically fit is an impossibility, you may want to take another look at the everyday man or woman on the street. You will realize that we are all people with similar needs. If that doesn’t give you the self-acceptance to go to the gym, then start in your living room. Make sure you check with your primary care physician to get recommendations on what exercises are safe to start, then begin to make progress in private. As you see your body changing, you will soon find your confidence and sense of achievement growing.
Invest in Yourself. Your Kids Will Love You For It. You’re their hero. You’re their model. You’re dad. Your kids learn more about life from what happens in the home than anywhere else. If you incorporate exercise into you family routine, these habits will last beyond your lifetime. If you’re struggling to find motivation, find it in the inquisitive eyes of your children as they watch you mount up on your bike, get home from a jog, or pump iron in the garage. They just might hold you accountable to the routine when they come down the stairs in their sweatbands, headbands, and sweats ready to “work out” with you. Your greatest treasures might teach you how to treasure yourself.
Mind Over Matter; Character Building Over Body Building. If the mention of running, weight lifting, or stationary biking doesn’t instantly make you want to jump into a pair of shorts, don’t sweat it. It’s hard, that’s the point! The value of sacrifice has nearly been annihilated by a mentality of convenience. Doing things that are difficult are a direct challenge to our comfort. Pay attention to your feelings and reactions toward the whole process. Do a study on the value of sacrifice. Watch how your body responds when you apply some self-inflicted adversity. This small sacrifice causes increased energy, loss of fat, increased physical ability and endurance, and clarity of thought. If you need to, pick an activity you’ve never done before. Make your work out something that engages you. You may find yourself revising your priority list and making significant changes. An odyssey of activities you never dreamed you’d accomplish may have begun, right there in your garage, living room, or backyard.
Just Because We Have Technology Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Need Muscles. Everyone wants to work smarter, not harder. That doesn’t mean your Blackberry can’t get smashed, that satellites can’t get buck-shotted by space debris, or cell phone towers get struck by lightning. There are constant unknowns in life, and our increasingly violent and turbulent world is going to throw challenges at you that will require you to access your physical abilities. When you’re in public with your family, you want to be able to ensure your and their safety. When the worst-case scenario occurs, you don’t want to be left gasping and helpless. Deep within is a warrior, a protector. Your children and partner are your very soul. To strive for a disciplined physique is to take a first step toward physical security.
Don’t Worry, You Don’t Have to Become Chuck Norris. Try to avoid making exercise another addiction or compulsion. Physical fitness is a part of a whole. You have a mind, a heart, a spirit. Don’t give yourself ultimatums or a heart attack. This is about the marathon of your life, not a sprint toward losing 30 pounds then gaining it all back when you can’t maintain the pace over the long-term. Your goal is to gain a self-awareness and an ability to cope with the stresses of life while taking care of yourself and your own. If you think you aren’t valuable or worthy of acceptance unless you’re cut with muscle or unless you’re a size two, then the place to start is not in the gym, it’s in your mind.
Misconceptions About Physically Fit Individuals. Don’t allow yourself to demonize those who are physically fit. In any group of people there will always be people you don’t necessarily click with. There are negative stereotypes of “muscleheads” and “meatheads” that have their source in reality. But don’t allow your dislike of someone else’s personality to impede your health. With every drop of your sweat you are lengthening your life, adding sacred moments with your children and your partner to your storehouse of experience. Every rep, blast of breath, swimstroke, stride, or jumpshot is the arrival of another laugh with your son or daughter, another embrace of your spouse, another stroll down the lane, or evening on the porch watching the sun melt into the earth.
Although being physically fit doesn’t guarantee long life or happiness, it is a cornerstone of our reality, an origin of countless benefits, and a way to physically express how much you care for you and yours.
Article image by: Steve Woods, SXC
Mack Dreyfuss is a freelance writer and writes on a variety of topics while doing his best to enjoy all four seasons. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and daughter. He has been rumored to occasionally change a diaper one-handed, but his wife states that such a feat has never been witnessed. You can read more of his work at themackdreyfusslounge.com.