Balance the new fervor with that which sustains the long haul
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
A long time ago, a really smart fellow told me to stay out of religion and politics in this space. For the most part, I’ve heeded that advice (I’ve been writing this column for nigh on 28 years).
Not so much today. So here goes: I’ve come to the realization that exercise and religion are a lot alike. You’re going to have to bear with me on this one for a minute.
I see a lot people that seemed to have “discovered” exercise. They become obsessed by it. If they aren’t exercising, they’re thinking about what they’re going to do the next time that they do exercise. Or what they will wear.
They can tell you what their VO2 max is while bragging about their percentage body fat, their latest PR, or their resting heart rate and belong to not one but two gyms.
Often they extend that to their diet as well. One day it’s burgers and fries and the next day it’s bean sprouts and tofu. And if you were with them yesterday enjoying that burger, well today you might get a lecture on the sins of fat grams.
I see some religious converts act the same. They’ve gone from a life of doing lots of wrong things to one of sanctity and piety. Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s definitely direction that they should have taken and it is far better sooner than later. But they are totally consumed by this new-found religious fervor. They’ll tell you all about it without being asked (which, again, is not necessarily a bad thing). And their life is consumed in converting you to their way of thinking (which might very well be a bad thing).
They’ve not really changed but they’ve found an “answer” to everything in their life. See where I find the similarities? I think there is a better way. A middle ground, if you will.
About a month ago, I gave the advice that if you would exercise daily and remove the one single worst thing from your diet, that you would be healthier and live longer. That’s what I’m talking about here: not a radical change about everything you do but substantive, important changes in the basics.
There isn’t one single way of exercising and eating that works for everyone. Some people run marathons. Others need some sort of competition to stay motivated. You’ve just got to learn what works for you.
And it will only work for you if you do it. If you cannot sustain it, you need to move on to something else. No one has found “it,” that perfect exercise (or the perfect life, for that matter) that works for all. As for food, I find that those that deprive themselves completely from too many things end up with a whole new set of problems. Sure, there are some things that are healthier than others, but you can get to the point to where the only thing left to eat is cardboard and melba toast (which are about the same thing anyway). Besides, if you just wait around, the food that is bad for you today will be found to be healthy for you tomorrow (although I’ve been waiting for bacon to be found to be healthy for a long, long time). I also believe that The Golden Rule is a too often forgotten message about how we should live our lives. I don’t have to always agree with you about religion and politics, although too many people live their lives that way. My late father-in-law was that way. You could either agree with him or you could be wrong. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you — to me means that if you want to be treated with understanding and kindness that you need to always treat others with understanding and kindness. You don’t wait for someone else to be nice to you, you get to go first.
And if that understanding and kindness are not returned to you, well that just has to be OK too. Do not be consumed with revenge or retaliation. Those twin criminals will consume you.
If your kindness is not returned with kindness, just move on down the line. Your reward is going to be found somewhere else.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)