Fitness Not a Quick Fix

We live in a world of instant gratifications. That is good in some respects, but bad when it comes to fitness.

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still. Chinese Proverb

We all expect immediate results. That is just part of the age we live in. Communication is fast. Food is immediately available. Ideas are at our finger tips. New drugs are always getting approved. Whatever we need can be taken care of with an email, a doctor visit or a drive through the check out lane at McDonald’s, or just waiting for tomorrow’s new advancement.

The same is true when it comes to our bodies. There is always the possibility of liposuction. There are the extreme make-over people who can turn us into magazine attractive as if over night. There is the possibility that an electric device can cause the equivalent of a thousand abdominal contractions just by plugging it in. And, maybe tomorrow, there just may be a way of altering the fat gene.

Moreover, for those who have had good experiences with athletics in high school, there is the memory of the physical transformation which came by the end of a summer of serious weight-lifting. In light of all this, how can anyone dare to insist that fitness will take at least six months–maybe longer– to just get off the ground?

The truth is that unless we are sixteen we are no longer of high school age. Too, unless we are financially well-off, we probably cannot afford an extreme makeover. That is typically not covered by insurance. Nor could we take off sixty days to go through all of the procedures. Also, as of the present date, there is not an effective fat burner which will shed twenty pounds by the next morning. Even if there were, there is not another which would keep the weight from returning by the end of the month. And, as of yet, there is not a fat gene-altering drug. Nor is there the hope that it will be affordable if, or when, it gets approved.

Thus, the supposed easy answers will not work. They do not even exist. All there really is for any of us is time and good old fashioned hard work. That means daily effort over at least six months without any deviations. In other words, what is required is six months of daily exercise, adequate supplementation and a commitment to a low fat low sugar, preferably gluten-free diet.

Those are the factors needed to make gradual changes. And, it is these gradual changes that we should really care about. Why? Because they have the strong likelihood of actually lasting. Much faster dramatic changes (in under a month, for instance) are simply too hard on the whole system and characteristically backfire with a vengeance (yo-yo phenomenon.) It is as if a part of us does not want to be any different than we are. Even if we insist that we want to be entirely different, that we do not like what we see in the mirror, this other part of us is comfortable, complacent, adequately functioning, and adamant that everybody else should like us just the way we are. That is us at an unconscious level.

At a more conscious level today, we are enslaved to new time tables. As stated before, these are the product of the age we live in. They are referred to as instant gratifications–means whereby we really can get what we want very quickly. Their prevalence influences our senses of how long we give something before we say that it is not working.

Thirty years ago, it never was that way. There was no internet; there were far fewer fast food places; letters and phone calls were the best way to stay in touch; medicine was only dimly aware of radical physique and figure altering procedures; new drugs were far less prevalent. Back then we knew we had to simply allow for some time before physical changes would happen. Everyone knew that. But today, it is different.

This is the reason that many of us fear committing ourselves to fitness. Today, we believe that it will simply take too long–a reality that should not be. On this, we are sure that everyone would agree. That means us, our families, our friends and even the person on the street. We all know this. Therefore, we avoid getting into anything that takes more than a short period–something which causes us to do what we fear the most– simply quitting, probably for the third or worse time.

What should we do in light of all of this? We should face our fear. That is the only answer. Saying that it does not exist or will not exist is a waste of energy. Hoping that it will not ever be there is dreaming. It will be; and it will be largely because of the age we live in. Refusing to recognize this is the same as living in denial–something our present age has deemed not only absurd, but potentially harmful.

Therefore, what we must do is simply say I am afraid of things taking too long and therefore I will refuse to even try at anything which might make some significant changes over time. The effect of such an assertion usually is one of laughter. How could we ever be so unrealistic? But that is how we think; and that is why the internal rhetoric just may be enough to make us simply bite the bullet and stay with a fitness routine for at least six months, if not six years.

The proverb above supports all that : we should never fear going slowly, only standing still. How timely, even if dating from the sixth century BC. How much this says about us as human beings. We have always been afraid of gradual change. It is just that today this is even more so because things are so much better!

Fear not gradual change; fear only standing still. So says the ancient proverb. Yet, perhaps, the saying is not all that helpful. Therefore a better better aphorism might be Fear whatever you like; just refuse to let it hold you back.

For further thought on staying at it in spite of everything order my e-book “Think and Grow Fit.”