The worst lies are to yourself.
The truth, the uncomfortable, damning truths we need to tell ourselves are the ones that question our true motivations. In any field or on any issue in any era, we need people to speak on the uncomfortable things hindering progress. Though I do not feel the immediate need to comment on injustices, poor practices, and corruption in all aspects of society, I do feel the need to comment on such occurrences in fitness. When people see the three-fold failure of a system, one where individuals are being manipulated by a system, the individuals blindly crave the manipulation, and individuals who are successful share in none of these cravings but can not help the unfortunate, they act quickly, they form groups, they raise money to fight the machine.
This is where fitness has gone.
I am no expert, and good for that! There are enough experts. There are enough trainers and doctors and physical therapists and gurus and yoga/crossfit/spin/barre/dance instructors and nutritionists and coaches trying to make a buck who will sell the idea that they know more than you do. Here’s the first truth you need to understand before you’re a fit person:
They do know more than you…about their thing, and they’ll talk you to death about their thing until you vow that their thing is the only way and you fill their pockets.
Admitting this should be no problem, but it’s a huge one. Here’s why-people think they are avoiding commitment to one method (and person or place) by say, joining a gym. But then the gym becomes the method, or the combination of many methods. It becomes the place to go to “get fit” which to us really means “look fit” literally and figuratively. One might be better off choosing a method and mastering it, even if it fills the pockets of some clever businessperson. At least you might learn something along the way.
Learning is important to independence. Independent people have philosophies that set the groundwork for all that they do and their successes depend greatly on them. The more extensive their education, the more access to independence they have because they have more framework for personal philosophies. I teach children now for this reason. I don’t want to implement a fitness philosophy in their minds, I want to educate them to a level of independence so that they are constantly reforming their own. It is something that is successful at the primary school level and simply doesn’t pay the bills when you’re training adults. Adults think that fitness is a service, something to be sold. Obviously. They are paying for it. Here’s the second truth you need to understand before you’re a fit person:
Fitness is free, like all of the other best things in life, so treat it just like those things.
Things like love, and nature, and determination and all of the free things we know come from within we treat with reverence and we attach them to everything we truly want. Then we say “I want a six-pack” and instead of pursuing a practice that gets you the strongest, leanest, most elastic abdominal wall for life, you think “who or what can I pay to get me a six-pack by THAT date.” We wouldn’t treat the other important things in our lives this way, so third truth:
Fitness isn’t really important to you.
This is fine too. I don’t hate you. I love the entire world. Only, don’t ask me how to help you lose your belly, or fix your butt, or help you look better in a swimsuit. If you don’t want to take your background, resources, abilities, weaknesses, and mostly your core beliefs and build personal philosophies around fitness then it isn’t important. You absolutely can not do any important thing in your life any other way and be successful. I know because like most people I’ve failed at this in so many areas of my life. When you attempt to do important things in other ways, people around you question your motivation. Right now, I am questioning your motivation. Looking great is not motivation, it is a true afterthought in the bigger picture of accomplishment. Important goals with superficial aims aren’t actually important.
Even if all your goals are superficial, can you create core beliefs around those and stick to them for life? Who can? Or, who can do that without being a completely obnoxious person? Trust me, when I talk of “fit people” I’m not talking about this person, because their obsession, given any subtle shift in their lives, could be sent in the opposite direction. Fit people are people who would seek physical activity and higher levels of physical activity even if gyms and fancy sneakers and elliptical machines didn’t exist. Fitness is important to these people in the way money is important to Warren Buffet-it is there, it is in abundance, it is the source of envy, most of it has been made, there is really no reason to stop making it, there is no one way to make it but only one way to make it work for you long term.
That’s more powerful than losing 10 pounds.