The Battlefield; The 11th Question…

 “I was dead for 14 billion years before I was born. So when I die again, I should be quite adept.”  Richard Dawkins

Missiles In A Large, Empty Space

A battlefield exists, different than any you can imagine. It’s a place of infinite space, with everywhere to run, and nowhere to hide. It’s a theater where an ongoing battle takes place between the opposing forces of ability and reason, and where the tenets of can versus should attack each other daily, unprovokedThese opposing sides of a single concept, take orders from one leader – instructing both camps to fully leverage their potential against the other. The battleground I speak of…?  You guessed it – it’s all in my head.

What the inside of my head looks like...

This battle between ability and reason, reaches for a clear answer to one simple question: just because somebody can do something in exercise or fitness, does it mean that they should? 

To be born at born at all, is to have been automatically assigned a death sentence.  To be born American, might expedite that sentence.  Me

Can Vs. Should

There are many methods, trends, and agendas offered by many practitioners in fitness.  Who’s to say what’s wrong in exercise, or what’s right? Just because a 73 year old woman can bench press 90 pounds, does it mean she should?

Before that question can be answered though, the question might also be raised: What might be the consequence of that action?

Question further: Could it adversely affect her health or quality of life?

Further still: Could it benefit her? 

One more question: If the 73 year old woman can bench press 90 pounds without a consequence and chooses not to, is that choice wrong as well?

That was a sample inquiry, but the ideology behind it can apply to everyone who exercises regularly, within any genre of fitness.  One has to exercise supreme honesty to benefit from this approach.

My 30 years experience in exercise and fitness has taught me that nobody has clear answers, but the wisest and most cultured fitness enthusiast, is the one who asks the most mindful questions...

Framing Your Fitness

Fitness, is a word which has been hijacked and transmogrified over recent decades by varying factions from reasonable to bad intent, each wanting to wholly own the term and use the lure and the promise of that term to promote (usually) for-profit agendas – not necessarily consistent with what true fitness might be.  Me  

Here are 10 lesser questions to consider first, before you sign on to work with a trainer, or subscribe to a particular style of exercise:

  1. What is it you are trying to accomplish?
  2. What is the risk involved with your long-term and short-term health?
  3. Is your goal achievable?
  4. If it is achievable, is it realistic for you and your circumstance?
  5. How long will it take you to achieve your goal?
  6. How much time do you have to dedicate to this endeavor?
  7. Do you have the financial means to achieve this?
  8. What gets sacrificed along the way; family, work, friends, other hobbies, etc.?
  9. Will the results be worth the sacrifice, the investment of your time, and the investment of your money?
  10. Who are you really doing it for?

Only after these questions have been answered, can a form begin to take shape with one’s fitness structure. With these answers can come the framework of all that you might become. Still, there looms that other question, the 11th question: Just because somebody can do something in exercise and fitness, does it mean that they should?

Me, Over-Thinking All Of This – Again

Ultimately, the answer to this question is unattainable. However, I believe that asking this question can evoke a new perspective on the values, as well as the consequences of exercise – and make no mistake, there are consequences with exercise.

Most adults who take to exercise for the first time offer me this simple statement; “I want to look and feel better”. Good reason enough I suppose and it is probably be best left at that. However, I have always suggested people new to exercise contemplate the 10 questions above before they begin. As I grow older though, the 11th question has eclipsed the other 10; Just because somebody can do something in exercise and fitness, does it mean that they should?

In my life I have trained as a springboard diver, a bodybuilder, a powerlifter, a cyclist, and a sprinter. I have run every race from a 5K to a marathon – because I could and because I wanted to. Still, does that mean I should have?

Long Beach 1/2 marathon -- because I wanted to, I guess...

And even if there is an answer to that question in the short term, it is likely that time will change that answer. As we grow older, the term fitness is likely to mean different things at different stages of one’s life.

I do believe this, and perhaps this is as close to an answer as I will ever offer to myself on the question: If I can, if I want to, if I don’t sacrifice too much to achieve it, if I feel there is some benefit, and my health won’t be adversely affected, then just maybe I should – but maybe not.  Be well.  rc

8 responses

  1. First of all, great picture! Love the smiling faces. 🙂

    It’s a good set of questions and to answer them one has to really think – really think about what they are wanting to accomplish and what fitness means to them.

    I’ve learned “fitness” isn’t a friend that you bring back into your life when you want to lose weight – it’s not an old friend that visits only when welcome – or when the sweat is pouring again. I’ve found that “fitness” has become a part of my being and is no longer separate or independent from my ideals and thinking. It’s not a lone entity I strive for. The purpose of having it in my life is vast and answering it in this comment box would be difficult.

    Thanks for getting the wheels turning in my head this morning. I think I need some more coffee.

  2. Finding that clear message within the conflicting voices in our heads can be a challenge!

    I became fit more as a lucky process rather than a thought out plan. I liked doing certain things, doing them made me more fit, and being more fit made me better at doing them and so it went.

    Lately it seems I notice more people who didn’t do it the best way and they are paying the price for that.

    I often wonder about all this too. Sometimes I wish I didn’t think so much 🙂

  3. GREAT POST! I love your set of questions too.. 1-10. I think anyone should think those thru & I see the SMART principle is in there too… realistic, achievable.

    I think Dr. J said it better for me when he said his comment: doing them made me more fit, and being more fit made me better at doing them and so it went.

    The fitter I became, the more confident about the things I did & tried I was…

    As for #11… I know there are certain things I could do now & I could have done them back when.. but personally, I just did not want to do them enough to put in the training effort OR like when my feet & knees were creating too many probs with my 5K races, I decided it was better I don’t push myself so hard to race fast & just go for a long term of a healthier body so I stopped the 5k’s. I still run/jog the distance or more, I just don’t push for those super fast miles that would end me up injured.

    So, to me.. it is all an evaluation of is it worth it to do this something & if it is & I know I will benefit from it somehow, even just with the sense of accomplishment & it does not hurt me or others long term.. I am in!

  4. Those 10 questions are really important to consider as we all go through life – not only for fitness/health goals. But the 11th question is great. I’ve got some things in my life that I could do but am stuck on the should.

    Great post Roy.

  5. Great thought provoking post! I exercise because it makes me feel good and helps keep my weight in check. From time to time I get obssessed with weight lifting, and I have to step back and ask myself why I am doing this? Then I usually take it easier for a while and I feel better.

  6. Sheri: Thank you. The thought process has a lot of gravity!

    Bobbie: I could not have phrased it any better — truly. Fitness is not independent of who we are, it is a part of it — or at least it should be. Thank you for the phrasing.

    Dr. J: You and me both on the thinking too much thing. I sometimes think “fitness” is just living — under false pretenses.

    Jody: In truth, I tend to side with your perspective – to do, but not to over-do. It’s a more broad line than fine for me since “fitness” is what I do for a living. I feel like I have to live to a higher standard even if, in the end, living to that higher standard wears me down more. Sad.

    Diane: Much much much better to be stuck in should than stuck in could.

    Carla: Yes, check and balances — and more checks and more balances. And more checks and more balances….. And so it goes…….

  7. Pingback: The Framework Of Fitness Part I; What Matters Most… « Roy Cohen's Contemplative Fitness

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