It’s something we all say we want. But I think that really, most of us say that as a hedge because we know that extremes–especially of the emotional variety–are ultimately unsustainable. Think back to the most joyous moment you can remember: You probably couldn’t recreate that feeling even if you reenacted everything from that time. Painful experiences may cut deeper and stick with you longer, but they too pass, eventually. AS part of the human experience, positives and negatives go back and forth, both due to circumstances in our control and out of it.
I say all this because balance is probably the hardest thing to actually achieve and can be just as fleeting as euphoric joy or agonizing pain.
I started this blog because I wanted to emphasize the most important lesson in living a healthy lifestyle: You must find whatever works for you and make it sustainable. That’s it. Define what is “success” for yourself (and it’s OK if that changes–it should over time), and don’t compare your personal situation to others (as hard as that is).
That sounds easy and straightforward right? I think it’s good, solid, if unsurprising advice.
So let’s make it personal.
I would say I’ve been “not unhealthily overweight” for about two years now–just about 10% of my entire life if we exclude ages 0-8. Which suggests I’ve been unhealthily overweight (at least based on appearance and doctor’s opinion) for 90% of my life. In other words, being at a “healthy weight” is relatively new to me, and it’s something I appreciate a whole lot more than someone who has been in good or even decent shape for most of his or her life.
However, being around a healthy weight–the primary objective for most regular people, the “sustainable lifestyle” if you will–isn’t always enough. Sometimes, you get distracted by short-term temptations. Like…
- I want a six-pack in preparation for the summer
- I want to gain more muscle so I can benchpress 225 lbs
- I want to lose 10 lbs so I can fit that shirt
- I want to lose that darn belly fat, so I’m going to only do ab exercises
- I am not going to eat lunch today because I don’t want a big belly in the afternoon
- I am only going to eat steamed chicken and broccoli for the next three weeks because I’m going to Vegas soon
These are all thoughts I’ve had at some point or another over the past two years. And I don’t think they’re bad in and of themselves. But I also know that starving myself so I feel more confident walking around without a shirt on isn’t worth it (I found that out the very hard way).
So when I think sustainable fitness, what am I ultimately trying to achieve?
Here is an incomplete list:
- Play my favorite sports with my friends and have the endurance to last hours, not minutes
- Manage my weight so I don’t have a huge protruding gut like I used to
- Walk for hours while listening to my favorite podcasts or talking with friends
- Burn calories to balance out my milk tea and beer consumption
- Wear the color white without feeling self-conscious about it
As you can see, not all of these are noble, laudable ends–some reflect my own vanity and self-consciousness. But it also reflects my history and what I personally feel is important–and because I think it’s important, I know I will work hard to make them a reality.
The clash between where you want to be now and where you want to be in the future will cause you to question yourself. Don’t ignore what you want in the short term, but also don’t neglect to ask yourself if it’s what you really want, too–and if you’re prepared to pay the necessary price to get it.
Keep on pushing the pile, friends!