Why Do You Exercise?
While you’re thinking about the answer to that question, consider this; most people don’t have any idea why they REALLY exercise.
If you ask them why they exercise, they’ll say things like they want to be healthy, or they want to look good naked, or they need to lose some weight because their doctor said they’d end up with diabetes if they don’t.
Those are surface-level reasons and are only a portion of the truth. The real bummer is that the people who supply these answers have no idea there’s more below the surface.
Let’s dig into why only having a portion of the truth is a problem and what people really mean when they say, I want to be healthy, look good, etc.
What Do We Really Mean?
When someone says, for example, “I want to be healthy,” what is health referring to?
Do they want to live until they’re 110?
Do they want to run the Boston Marathon?
Do they want to lower their blood pressure?
If you ask them, you’ll get wildly different answers from person to person, but if you keep digging, you’ll almost always come to the same conclusion.
They want to feel the way they believe a healthy person feels.
For a person that’s currently overweight, that might mean being able to climb the flight of stairs in their home without feeling out of breath or being able to get down on the floor to play with their kids without making sure there’s a piece of furniture nearby to help them get back to their feet.
For a person who’s beat up from old sports injuries feeling healthy again could be having the option to play basketball with their teenage child without having to worry about knee and shoulder pain for the next 48 hours.
Everyone’s definition of feeling healthy is different, and the route required to get from where they are now to where they want to be won’t look like the person in front or behind them in line at the grocery store.
It works the same for those who want to look good naked.
What does that mean?
It’s different for everyone, but ultimately it boils down to feeling confident in their own bodies.
That’s what they want.
That’s the way they want to feel.
The Partial Truth
Why is it a problem to go into fitness with a partial truth?
If you haven’t clearly defined what you want out of your fitness journey, the likelihood that you end up feeling fulfilled and happy with your investment is nearly ZERO.
Think of it like this. If you’re standing on a busy street corner and ask someone for directions do you ask for directions to a specific destination, or do you say something like, “I want to go west; which direction is that?”
“West” is the equivalent of plotting your fitness journey with a partial truth. You can start in the right direction but never know when you’ve arrived.
Knowing the address of your specific destination is the opposite; you know where you’re going, why you want to go there, and when you arrive, there’s no possibility of mistaking it.
This is where something we call “practical fitness” comes into the equation.
What is practical fitness?
In a nutshell, practical fitness is the level of fitness you need to live your life as you see fit and nothing you don’t.
Instead of chasing gym metrics arbitrarily, it’s setting specific goals relative to what you want to be able to do in life.
Adding 20 pounds onto your back squat isn’t likely to improve your quality of life in a meaningful way if you just want to play soccer in the yard with your kids.
Adding 2 more pull-ups probably won’t make you any happier if it doesn’t allow you to hike pain-free with your friends and family.
You need to know the deep truth behind why you exercise because you’ll have no idea what practical fitness looks like for you if you don’t have specific goals and desires to check it against.
On the flip side, when you’ve defined exactly what you want to get out of your fitness investment, and you understand the whole truth behind it, it’s easy to tell whether or not the work you’re doing in the gym is moving the needle in a meaningful way.