A Dainty Diary of Lifting

Fitness as a State of Mind

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I’m not dead. I’m just on vacation from school and life in general. I feel like I left too much of my spark on the platform when I competed, and now almost a month later I’m still feeling a little lost.

What have I been up to? Well, I went to Wal-mart last weekend and bought carrots. I’ve been back to Hostyle Conditioning and seen some incredible signs of progress on my bench. I’ve read the farcical article published by Men’s Health that establishes a definitive guide to the fittest man of all time.

All joking aside, the issue of labeling someone as the fittest man of all time raises an important question: What is fitness?

Despite the fact that I’ve been called a “gym rat” on numerous occasions, no one would ever pick me out of a police line-up for being guilty of the crime of fitness. And if the internet has taught me anything, it’s that the purpose of getting fit is to get super lean, toned, and sexy so that you can feel more confident and get chicks.

But if Brad Pitt abs are the ultimate metric of fitness, then I’ve failed quite miserably. Except that it seems like an indisputable fact that fitness is actually a measure of athletic ability and a person’s ability to be stronger, run faster or jump higher. If that’s the case, then fitness is not a body type, but rather the state of mind necessary to better yourself constantly.

When I say that I’m on vacation, I mean exactly that I am in the frame of mind of taking a break from fitness. I don’t feel fit. The amount of change that has happened in my body over the past few weeks has been quite minimal, and I’m still forcing myself to go to the gym and execute the motions of squatting. But somewhere along the line, the fire that was driving me forward seems to have been extinguished: I don’t sit at my desk all day, counting down the seconds until it’s finally time to deadlift. I eat a box of pop tarts and think, “Meh, I’ll get down to my competition weight later” when 8 weeks ago, all I could think about was shrinking down to 132 lbs! Where did I go wrong?

If you’re reading this blog because you want all of the answers to “How do I motivate myself and get totally ripped in 6 weeks?” you’re in the wrong place. I’ve been trying to ditch my spare tire for over a year. But at the same time, I’m no Morrissey crooning, “Does the body rule the mind or does the mind rule the body ? I don’t know….” because in fact I do know.

At some point in my life, I was told and forced to accept that I will always face barriers when trying to “get fit”. There are professional athletes who face much bigger hurdles than I ever will. Being “fit” is very much a test of will to overcome these obstacles. All of those dudes on that stupid Men’s Health list find a way to make it work. So when I feel like I’m too tired to go to the gym because of school and work and wine, I remember that I can either choose to let all of those things get in the way, or I can choose to stop treating them as excuses. I am the only person who can make that decision for myself.

Actually, when people ask me how I’ve managed to lose weight, my primary response is that I started acting like an adult: I don’t like paying taxes, put I’ve got to do it anyway. I don’t like eating my veggies, but I know I need to do it anyway. I didn’t like working out, but I had to do it anyway. The reality is that sometimes you have to do what’s good for you, instead of what you’d like to do. Luckily, I sucked it up long enough to start enjoying the gym… until lately.

In truth, the fact that I continue to go to the gym 4 days a week despite my mental side trip to Hawaii is reassuring. I may not be in the running for the title of fittest man alive for a couple of reasons, but  when I feel like a fat ass for eating fries with dinner last night, I remind myself that getting “fit” is a journey – and there are peaks and valleys along the way. I may be in a valley, but as long as I keep moving forward, then I am closer to my destination. And I know that when my inner drill sergeant says “Put down the doughnut, fatty” I need to tighten my bootstraps and listen. The mind rules the body.


One thought on “Fitness as a State of Mind

  1. Yes! To everything here. Acting like an adult includes taking the ebbs and flows in stride. And sometimes vacations are needed.

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