The Toughest Part of Self-Improvement

Running at the fitness clubFor me, at least, the single most neglected and avoided part of self-improvement is physical fitness.   Without a doubt, I loathe every moment I spend in a gym.   Many of you may be the same way.

Yet I personally believe that it’s probably one of the things that holds me back more than anything in my desire for personal development.  Here’s why:

  1. How you view yourself takes into account many different inputs. It’s not only the things that you say and do that impact your perception of who you are, but how you look is also very important (for both men and women).  If you have a negative perception of the way you look in the mirror, you’re going to have a hard time liking the rest of yourself.
  2. Your level of physical fitness accounts for your levels of stress, your ability to think and act creatively, and a host of other issues. By neglecting exercise, you allow your strength, flexibility, and endurance to suffer.  This, in turn, impacts how you react to stressful or inconvenient situations that crop up during your day.  Whether it’s meeting a deadline at work, or dealing with a repair person at home, you’ll be more calm, collected, and rational if you’re consistently doing something to improve your body and relieve stress.
  3. Being healthy allows you to do the things you want to do better and for a longer period of time. I’m only 33 years old.  I realize that this may not be old to many folks who read this; on the other hand, it may be ancient to others.  What I’ve come to realize in the past few years is that, even at this early age in my life, my body has begun to give out on me.  I don’t recover from strenuous activities that I enjoy (like hiking) nearly as quickly as I used to.  I wake up with pain in joints that I’ve never felt before, and don’t even recall using.  Exercise prevents this slow decline (or at least will stave it off for a longer period of time).  I don’t want to be old before my time.  I want to be able to play with my son without getting tired out, or enjoy a game of softball without waking up the next morning with a sore shoulder from throwing and a sore back from swinging a bat.

You’ve heard all the suggestions before, haven’t you?  “Just find something you like, that way you’ll stick with it!”  I’m here to tell you, as a person who doesn’t enjoy many active pursuits, that you CAN do this.  You may have to work at it (personally, I enjoy riding my road bike and hiking, two activities that don’t mix well with the winter season here in Idaho), but you can find SOMETHING.

And you know what?  If you don’t, you may just have to suck it up and find something that works, whether you enjoy it or not.  The important thing is to remember what will happen to you if you don’t; you’ll become old before your time, encountering many health problems and at risk for a premature death.  Lately, the fear of hypertension and cancer, two issues that run in my family, have convinced me to take my health a lot more seriously.  Let me tell you 20-somethings:  it’s a lot harder getting back into shape when you’re my age than it probably would have been just staying that way.  But it can be done.

5 thoughts on “The Toughest Part of Self-Improvement”

  1. There is no doubt that physical fitness and nutrition can be two of the trickiest issues to deal with. No matter what, everyone seems to have trouble with falling off the wagon. I think your advice about finding something you enjoy is great, but on top of that, I've found that it helps to anchor your pursuits by participating in races or other competitions. You can "compete" just for fun, or try to set personal records, but the looming competition day always seems to provide the extra motivation to stick with the program (whatever that program might be).

    While I might be one of the most competitive people in the world, I really think this can work for less competitive people. There is an abundance of charity races and events of all different types, so finding something to prepare for is always possible. If you don't like running, for example, there are charity workouts to support wounded military members or to raise money for "toys for tots" and similar programs. These events can be great anchors for achieving fitness goals, and can serve the greater good as well. Talk about a win-win!

  2. Well, I need to do some kind of exercise in order to survive, or I'm not going to be able to remain in my house or be able to handle small daily tasks. Maybe exercise will turn my physical decline around, and maybe not, but it is a temporal hope to at least try. It helps, or is supposed to help, with pain management. Physical exercise increases the brain's ability to make endorphins which are the body's natural pain aids. Glad you are writing these encouragements to young people. It does help as one ages to not have extra weight, as that makes exercising all the harder then. It is humbling to barely be able to do much of anything physical, but even older people can build up some strength, balance and endurance over time. Thanks, Jason, for writing.

    Also, what kind of template did you use to design your web page, or did you design it yourself. I like it.

  3. Well, I need to do some kind of exercise in order to survive, or I'm not going to be able to remain in my house or be able to handle small daily tasks. Maybe exercise will turn my physical decline around, and maybe not, but it is a temporal hope to at least try. It helps, or is supposed to help, with pain management. Physical exercise increases the brain's ability to make endorphins which are the body's natural pain aids. Glad you are writing these encouragements to young people. It does help as one ages to not have extra weight, as that makes exercising all the harder then. It is humbling to barely be able to do much of anything physical, but even older people can build up some strength, balance and endurance over time. Thanks, Jason, for writing.

    Also, what kind of template did you use to design your web page, or did you design it yourself. I like it.

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