#MyTherapy, Mind-Body Connection
It's not breaking news that throughout time, what we as a society consider "fitness" has changed quite a bit. Standards change, as do our expectations. Perhaps this is part of the reason that being “fit” tends to mean different things for different people. Some people feel the need to run every day to maintain a certain level of fitness. Some people prefer playing organized sports. Others take the more extreme route and sign up for marathons every few months or compete in events that glorify hardcore fitness, including mud runs and competitions similar to the now popularized American Ninja Warrior phenomenon. Some people still consider "fitness" something other people do, not something they incorporate into their own lives.
The good news is that the more the standards and expectations change, the less “fitness” seems to be associated with a particular size, shape or weight. Rather, it refers to the overall health and well-being of the individual. Fitness, nowadays, transcends the physical, which should make the goal of achieving it much more approachable for the average joe.
With physical fitness becoming less a matter of meeting one standard, a general healthy lifestyle to increase fitness has become more popular. Instead of driving to class or work, for instance, many people have taken to walking or riding their bikes. Instead of taking the elevator, one takes the stairs. Instead of buying lunch, one prepares Greek yogurt and hummus dip to stave off hunger during the day.
These small lifestyle changes are an excellent way to start incorporating fitness into your life. We all know, change doesn’t happen overnight, you're not going to lose ten pounds by taking the stairs a few times. Becoming “fit” in the ecumenical sense is a gradual process, and that’s something that anyone who’s striving toward that goal should understand.
Let’s revisit a concept we brought up before. Fitness transcends the physical, right? That’s because fitness is less about the body and more about the balance of all of the elements of our lives. Being fit physically feeds into being fit emotionally, which feeds into being fit mentally, spiritually, socially, etc. (and not necessarily in that order).
Making one or two lifestyle changes to up your fitness level can have a cascade effect on other parts of your life as well. Let’s say, for instance, that you tend to be an impatient person. You dread stoplights, you avoid running into people you know at the grocery store because you know it will slow down your plans, you’d rather nearly run over the old lady crossing the street if it means you’ll get that parking spot that’s right in front of the store.
Imagine what would happen if you had some inspired “moment,” where you realized that you need to be more patient. Good for you. Emotional fitness? Check. What happens next is something you never saw coming. Now, you stop and talk to your neighbor when you run into them, and you realize you’re both horse figurine enthusiasts. Wow! Now you finally have a friend who shares your strange passion. Social fitness? Check. You’re generally a nicer person because you’re no longer almost running over elderly people. With a clear conscience, your spiritual fitness is in check, too. And, now that you’re willing to park a little farther back in the parking lot, you add a few extra steps to your walk and a few extra minutes carrying those heavy grocery bags (because you also decided that you didn’t always need a cart). Before you know it, your arms and calves are gaining definition.
If you think it may be time to start living a healthier lifestyle, but aren't ready to commit to those mud runs and gym memberships, try taking the stairs, riding your bike, and bringing your own lunch. See how you feel and start thinking about what fitness means to you.
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