For many of us, the primary reason for leading a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity is simply to ensure a good quality of life for many years and decades to come. Another popular and valid reason is to naturally improve, or at least maintain, our current physical appearance for as long as we can, in other words, vanity!
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy those very rare moments in life when a total stranger, with great sincerity, incorrectly guesses our age confirming that we are successfully defying the physical effects of aging. Some are indeed succeeding in looking fit and healthy, most are not, at least not without some strategically placed makeup, clothing or cosmetic surgery (or Photoshop for those celebs in print) and even then we still need to suspend some of our disbelief, ok, most of it.
Do you include yourself in the physically active group of people who don’t know why they aren’t getting results? Are there times when you ask “why do I look like my slug of a neighbour whose greatest form of exercise are short walks to and from the refrigerator and car?” Then here is your opportunity to get a tip from a professional who not only knows, but has been there.
Like most men on this planet, I tend to grocery shop in what I call “stealth mode” where I focus on getting into the grocery store quickly, obtaining the various targets (grocery items) and efficiently leaving with just a vapour trail, all the while being oblivious of anyone or anything that has nothing to do with successfully completing my mission.
However, my mission was interrupted today by a delay at the checkout counter. This delay created an opportunity to hit the mission pause button and scan the magazine/tabloid headlines. One particular headline from the National Enquirer caught my attention, it read: 50 BEST AND WORST BEACH BODIES.
Now, because my mission didn’t include the National Enquirer as a target item, the aforementioned issue was left behind. I can only imagine the pictures of various celebrities, some of them thin, fat and somewhere in between; each picture with a clever caption below it summing up that individual’s level of conformity to the universal standards of womanhood or manhood we have come to know and love.
The question I pose today is simple, if the National Enquirer had a snapshot of you on the beach today, what clever caption would you include below your picture?
I am at my local gym in the Greater Toronto Area approximately 6 days a week. I see the same group of members each day because we tend to train during the same time each morning. Frankly, I find that the good majority of them don’t look all that fit and are in fact overweight. Do you have the same observation about your fellow gym members? Would you include yourself in the group of physically active individuals who are overweight despite visiting the gym 3 or more times a week, remember your National Enquirer caption?
If you are having difficulty determining if you belong to this group, this may help.
If you get genuine compliments on your appearance and are asked “how do you do it?” or “what is your secret” or “have you worked out today?” then it may be safe to assume that your lifestyle choices are working, congrats!
On the other hand, do you get asked time and time again by various people who know you have a gym membership and haven’t seen you in a while this question “are you still working out?” If you do, and it is usually asked by the same person, then that my friend may be a good indication that what you are currently doing isn’t working.
If you include yourself in the results seeking physically active group, what do you believe is your primary reason for still having love handles or a muffin top? Or perhaps you include yourself in a relatively small group whose challenges center around being too thin, what is your primary reason for not being able to add lean muscle mass to your body? And finally, perhaps the caption under your photo reads “beach babe” or “dune dude” then what, in your opinion, is your primary reason for looking so fit and healthy?
I have a tremendous amount of respect for everyone who makes the commitment to leading a healthy life that includes training on a regular basis. You get up early each morning and drive to the gym before work, or visit after work; occasionally, you sneak a workout in during the lunch hour. You work out on most weekends, both Saturday and Sunday and still manage to do your share of running errands, cleaning around the home and/or doing the yard work. And on top of that, you manage to fit those important moments being there for your family and socializing with friends.
Secondly, I acknowledge your dedication, self-discipline and commitment to living that healthy lifestyle; you are in my eyes the true athletes who children and other adults can look up to as role models. Furthermore, I include you as an important part of the solution to addressing the inevitable future rising healthcare costs associated with an aging population.
I also beleive that physically active people like you should be compensated for your efforts in the form of a health tax credit that at the very least covers the cost of a membership, personal training, and nutrition classes at a quality gym.
Thirdly, set against the backdrop of a life well lived, the by-product of good health is a healthy physical appearance. There is no question that good health means a healthy looking face, hands, eyes and skin, supported by a body with good muscle tone. Good physical health is usually accompanied by an appropriately positive outlook on one’s current life and the not too distant future.
Physicians rely on visual observations as part of a physical exam. From the moment you walk in the exam room, your doctor includes what she sees as part of assessing your health. Most of us can tell immediately how well a loved one or close friend is doing health wise without having to reference any medical information. In other words, we can all see good health, it’s almost impossible to hide.
However, I want to add a very important point; the visual observation of the absence of poor health doesn’t mean you are healthy, I recommend annual physical check-ups (scheduling one each year close to the date of your birth is easy to remember) that provide empirical data to confirm your good health.
Now, back to the group at the gym.
If I had met each of my fellow gym members for the first time at a grocery store, gas station, restaurant or movie theatre, a good percentage of them, perhaps 8 of 10, I’d judge as not working out with any regularity whatsoever. In fact, there are a couple of trainers who I would never guess are health enthusiasts, let alone trainers.
Please understand that my focus is not to put anyone down. I am trying to illustrate how difficult it is for each of us, including the everyday professionals who are supposed to know and pass along their knowledge, to understand and then implement the appropriate lifestyle that improves our health and appearance.
For most of us, our unhealthy appearance is typically created by the combination of our significantly larger waist relative to our chest for males, and hips for females. So, what gives? Why are we putting all this work in and yet we look like most citizens whose greatest form of exercise are short walks to and from a car or refrigerator?
There is no denying that extra fat around our waist and organs, we call that visceral fat, poses a great challenge in preventing or delaying age-related chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, obesity and respiratory disease.
I am very interested in as much feedback and information from you as possible. I would be more than happy to provide a tip based on what you are currently experiencing as your greatest challenge(s) to getting the healthy appearance you want and so deserve. Conversely, please feel free to share a tip or two that you have found to be helpful in reaching your health and wellness goals.
So, here are those questions again:
- If you include yourself in the results seeking physically active group, what do you believe is your primary reason for still having love handles or a muffin top?
- Or perhaps you have the challenges associated with being too thin, what is your primary reason for not being able to add lean muscle mass to your body?
- And finally, perhaps the caption under your photo reads “beach babe” or “dune dude” then what is your primary reason for looking so healthy and fit?
Please do take the time to comment and share, I know we’ll learn something here that will help each of us meet our health and wellness goals. And for those who believe this is too personal a topic to comment on in a public forum, feel free to email me directly at my contact page, your privacy is assured.
I thank you in advance for your much appreciated help, support and input.
And please sign up for my Free Report, Rec Your Health: The Living Healthier Longer Strategy. It lists the 20 most effective health promoting behaviours to living a healthier life that will positively impact your last 10 years on this wonderful planet, enjoy!
I have your back.
We become what we think about!