Definitions For Those In Quest Of More Definition…

I will be in Chicago for the next week assisting my daughter in the set-up of her first apartment.  That sentence alone makes me feel entirely too old. 

Good news: There is a HUGE window in my daughter's new bedroom. Bad news: Yes, yes that is a platform for the L-train as seen through said window. Urban living....

That said, I will not post another new column until Friday, August 20th.  Between now and then, I won’t be online much.  In the mean time, there is this remix from a past column:


Definitions For Those In Quest Of More Definition…

Fitness, 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 for-profit agendas – not necessarily consistent with what true fitness might be. There are at least three definitions of fitness; Webster’s, mine, and yours.


1) The quality or state of being fit

2) The capacity of an organism to survive and transmit its genotype to reproductive offspring as compared to competing organisms; also : the contribution of an allele or genotype to the gene pool of subsequent generations as compared to that of other alleles or genotypes


Fitness is the sum of balance, flexibility, endurance, strength, internal workings such as blood pressure, heart rate, balanced cholesterol, etc. Fitness, in my definition, includes command of the body, speed, power, heightened senses, and a reasonable aesthetic form.


Take a moment; write down what the term fitness really means to you. Keep that definition handy. Each week refer back to your definition of fitness. Add to it as you wish, or take away from it if you need. Make it a living document. Always maintain an awareness of what fitness means to you, and why it’s important for you to be fit.

Beyond The Definition

Now that we have had this important conversation, I wonder who has included the following virtues in their definition of fitness:

  • Being a good parent
  • Being a good sibling
  • Being a good child
  • Being a good neighbor
  • Being a good employee
  • Being a good friend
  • Being a good citizen of the community
  • Being a good member of the congregation
  • Being a good leader

Roy High On His High Horse — Yet Again

Society is often quick to express disapproval of why/how so many over prioritize fitness (working out) in the modern age. In pursuit of results, it often seems that fitness-minded people forsake the more important virtues I listed above in their quest for a better bod, myself included. To sacrifice any of these virtues for the sake of a workout, one’s priorities would surely be out of whack.

But, to include any and all of these virtues as reasons to workout might be suggested – especially for those who struggle finding motivation to fulfill their own fitness ambitions. Ambitions fulfilled, the blurry line between fitness moderation and obsession becomes more clear.

I admit that my own fitness priorities have been out of whack on more than one occasion. However, as I sit here in robe-clad rumination drinking coffee on a cold San Diego pre-dawn, I have no doubt that I have been better at all of the above because of my commitment to personal fitness; a better neighbor, better father, better business man, better writer. I can also say that when I have stepped too far from my fitness path, my ability to be good at anything has immediately and proportionately decreased.

I can think of few great thinkers, great leaders, or iconoclasts of social or political change who have been true exercise junkies. Conversely, I can think of many who practiced reasonable fitness daily. Be you wanting to lead and facilitate change in the world, the community, the workplace, or the family, a more fit more confident you is much more likely to succeed.

The Change-up

That said, my fitness tip for this week applies to those who, like myself, have a harder time negotiating that blurry line between obsession and moderation in fitness:

  1. Skip the workout today go have a root beer float with your elderly neighbor.
  2. Take your kid out for pizza.
  3. Don’t just have one glass of wine with dinner, have the whole bottle – just don’t leave the house.
  4. From your front porch, shoot spit-wads at those smug cyclists and runners as they move past your house in those pretentious running and cycling outfits.
  5. Buy Girl Scout Cookies outside the grocery store, and make the girls laugh as you open the box and begin eating right in front of them – before you even get your change back in your hand.
  6. Hijack your workout partner and go see a movie instead of of hitting the gym.
  7. Put down the egg whites and oatmeal and enjoy your wife’s pancakes for a change.
  8. Instead of lecturing your subordinates at work on the “ills of junk food” surprise them with a box of donuts – and let them see you take the first one.
  9. For today, just for today, be okay with who you are!!!
  10. Find a fitness trainer and tell him to, “shut the fuck up and get real”. Remind him that life is more than sets, reps, lunges, chicken breast salads, and that there are greater causes in the world than doing sinister justice to a pair of jeans.

Wrap Up

If you are a fitness enthusiast and have already done any one of these things this week, good for you, you are a fitness moderate and you are right where you should be.

If you have done all of these things this week, then it probably is time to write down and review your own definition of fitness, and get grounded.

If you refuse to do any of these things for fear that your abs will disappear, your arms won’t look so hard, or your 5K  run time will suffer, I pity you, but pity those close to you even more. Be well.

12 responses

  1. This post really resonates with me at this time in my life, but not because fitness is over prioritized. Fitness has been at the bottom of my priority list, I’m afraid, but for good reason. My brother is in his final weeks of life and I need to put his needs above everything else for a while. I do worry that when his time comes that I’ll find it difficult to return to my typical fitness patterns. One day at a time is all I can think about right now.

    • Karen: I am so sorry about your brother, and I know he is nearing the end. Having been following you for a while, I have no doubt whatsoever that you navigate life with logic. Your priorities will find their way to the front.

  2. CalorieLab is on the new server now and is working correctly.

    The ‘L’ in Chicago will take you most anywhere in the city!

    My definition of myself is ever changing. Now, it’s could definitely improve 😦

  3. Like Dr. J, I am always a work in progress. Now saying that, I need to reread some of this too! 😉 I do tend to get pretty caught up in my fitness stuff BUT on the good side, I plan for my treats. A cookie on the weekend is always part of that but if it turns into 3 cookies, I am not worried as I know how hard I work out!!! And the cookies are BIG!!!!!

    As for fun times, I don’t eat just because it is there. But if there is something I really really want & worth it, I eat it!!! 🙂

  4. Jody: I think you and I are definitely kindred gym spirits, and share a lot of the same emotions — good and bad.

    RE: Indulgence, I always like to say, “Celebrate, but keep the size of the celebration, relative to the size of the occasion!”

  5. Since I am just beginning my lifestyle change (see comment on your post crime and punishment),I am currently in the mindset of NO treats. I have to get my eating and workouts become a habit first. If I want to miss a day at the gym, I make myself go. If I want one goody, I don’t have it because it will turn into a binge. I am scared right now of sliding back into where I once was. Once I get things under control, I feel I will be able to have one piece of pizza, or miss a workout if I just want to read a book, etc. Your posts are thought-provoking.

  6. Roy,
    I love this!! And…I would say I’m in the moderate camp nowadays (however…I very much recall days that skewed a bit much toward fanatic).

    …time for some ice cream….

    Enjoy Chicago!!

  7. Mary: That is a great perspective and I applaud you for seeing things that way. I wish you much success, diligence, and fortitude on your way.

    Diane: Having followed you for a while now, I have a great appreciation for how you conduct your fitness-life. You put a great emphasis on food — which is where the real work gets done!!!

    Lance: Thank you very much for dropping in! I have visited your site previously, but not commented — so many blogs, and still my full-time job — I know you know what I mean.

    From what you have written, you have moderation down well, and consideration for your family too!

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