Fitness vs. Happiness

 “It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness”  ~Leo Tolstoy.

One of my missions as I endeavor to spread physical and emotional health via Dane Life Fitness is to help Women find their self-esteem, and not be martyrs. The number onehappi4 culprit behind women’s’ feelings of inferiority, jealousy, and lack of appreciation of what and who they are is the ever-in-your-face demand that we be physically perfect.  As I scour DLF’s pinterest site (www.pinterest.com/danelifefit) daily, I am saddened by how many posts are focused on quick ab fixes, ab challenges, killer thigh and butt routines, and boost your metabolism diets — all affixed to photos of 20-something fitness models who spend 6-8 hours a day exercising, eating specifically limited diets, posing with just the right lighting, and of course, photo re-touching!  There is NO way your average 30-50 year old woman (whether career woman, stay home mom, or both) can compete.

happi5My clients vent why can’t I look like J-Lo, or Heidi Klum?! My response, because you’re not them! You are you, you have a different set of circumstances.  You must work with what and who you are. Yet off they go, sweating away precious hours of life all the while miserable, or following fad diets to little success — again feeling deprived and unhappy.  So I ask, what price do we pay for fitness.  How many hours of your day, week, month, year — life — do you spend exercising?  How many hours a day to you think (and in some people’s’ case agonize) about what you will/should eat, when, how much, and how it will affect you? Is your quest for fitness enhancing your life, or draining away your spirit?

happi2A gentleman named Tim Ferriss wrote a book (“The Four-Hour Body”) in which he outlines a plan of minimal exercise, minimal sleep, and minimal food choices to achieve rapid weight loss and physical fitness.  Some of his theories fly in the face of conventional fitness (i.e., claims that cold showers can burn calories; no dairy except for cottage cheese; no whole grains or fruit of any kind; minimal weekly exercise,  and a binge day once a week).  Many busy, exercise-hating individuals will find Mr. Ferriss‘ plan enticing to say the least.  However, I again look at how much happiness there is to be had in such a restrictive diet, cold showers, and for me who loves exercise, an absence in my daily dose of exercise-induced endorphins.

But happiness is ultimately in the hands of the beholder.  Decide what/who you want to be and what makes you happy.  If you like exercise and are a fruit-a-holic — then go for it — in moderation, and be happy.  If you hate exercise and want to eat the same few things day after day so you don’t have to think about it and can spend the rest of your time enjoying all that life has to offer — go for it and be happy.

For me, life is best served in moderation.

happi3

 Take care of the have-to’s and the need-to’s, but make sure to do some of the want-to’s as well.  This applies to everything from how you spend your money to your exercise or what you eat.  There are certain have-to’s when it comes to exercise and nutrition (walk, stretch, hydrate) and definitely some need-to’s (resistance training, cardio, 4 servings of veggies and fruit), but do not forget the want-to‘s as they are often the most rewarding (rollerblading, dancing, ice-cream).

Fitness is different that physical perfection.  Be fit.  Be healthy.  Make sure whatever you do allows your body to move the way it needs to, have energy, have a healthy internal system (circulation, heart, lungs). Then you will have fitness but not at the expense of happiness.happi

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