We’re supposed to work hard, eat good food, and train often. But we hardly ever ask ourselves why. For some it is for performance, others to feel and/or to look better. Ultimately, no matter what motivates us, I think we all just want to live and be happy.
Amongst our endless to-do lists and busy lifestyles, we tend to place most importance in the ideals that we process most frequently around us. We’re bombarded with knowledge we do not have, and the idea of having things we do not yet possess, amidst a constant rush to reach perfection.
In this rush, we sometimes place too much emphasis on values that aren’t as fundamentally important to us. We concentrate too often on beingleaner, stronger, or lighter, as opposed to being mobile, content, and feeling good about yourself. The former are merely details in the bigger picture of health. The latter are necessities. When you acknowledge that there is a deeper meaning beyond all of this, you begin to realise why it should be enjoyable.
Sparing you of an existential rant on how to live your life, I’d like you to remember that certain experiences that you have and/or will encounter make you wonder what is most significant around you. I was recently at a funeral where I got the chance to reflect on this. Suddenly, we are made to realise that the value of a 1RM squat doesn’t matter so much to somebody that has one leg, just like body fat % means nothing when being faced with the prospect that you are seriously ill.
We’re told to set goals and aim high, and we seek to validate who we are based on our success or failure in reaching them. This is especially true when we compare our results to those around us. Measurement becomes obsession, eating habits become disorders, and instead of improving our quality of life we begin to take away from it.
This is precisely how diets work. Having to log everything you put into your mouth in order to balance the grams of macronutrients you eat each day is unsustainable. Adhering to a specific meal plan and timing, and impatiently waiting for the day that you are allowed to gorge on as much ‘bad’ food as you can fit in your stomach only serves to create an unhealthy relationship with your food. Staying away from people you love because their eating habits don’t agree with yours takes away the possibility that you may have a good time with them. While extreme strategies are followed with the best intentions in mind, they only serve to limit your experiences and create negative habits.
Similarly, we exercise to be stronger, fitter, and healthier. Instead we train too hard and end up injured. Whether it is a quicker race we want to run, a gold medal in a sport, or less aches and pains in the morning, our training methods should improve, not hinder our quality of life. Nevertheless we crave to be ‘smashed’ and measure the quality of our workouts by the level of soreness we experience the next day. Rather than working out to better ourselves, we start to rely on debilitating, self-inflicted pain as validation of our strength and determination.
In the quest to maximise our overall wellbeing, we ought to respect ourselves more by listening to both mind and body, and making decisions accordingly. Work smart or hard? There is no distinction, for both have their place. It is important to eat wholesome food, and to challenge your body during your workouts, but never forget why you’re actually doing it all. Obsess less about where you want to be, and enjoy being where you are currently. Appreciate this crazy journey because that’s the only way to be truly healthy.