So what does it mean to be “strong for life”?
Why do we exercise? Lift weights, go out for runs and spend time cooking healthy meals and try our best to avoid eye contact with the chocolate bars in the petrol station queue. What is it’s purpose?
The greeks had a word for it ‘Telos’. They believed everything had an aim, purpose or intention.
So recently I sat down and had a little think about the purpose behind all the healthy actions I try and take each day and furthermore the actions I encourage others to take.
Now I know we can easily fall back on the obvious:
- It’s good for you
- We want to live longer
- Set a good example for our family
- Increase our confidence
- And the less than glamorous but equally trueWe want to look good naked
Nothing wrong with any of those by the way. Yet we all know those things, and they are important to us (at different levels) yet on average most of us struggle to consistently make ‘good’ choices.
We like the idea yet we lack the conviction to get it done. A lot gets blamed on motivation or willpower and the rest gets shifted to an “I can’t do that’ or ‘I’m too busy’ mindset.
None of which I believe really tells the full story.
I believe most of us struggle to live the fit & healthy life we want because of two things:
- Lack of instant gratification from taking action. In other words, it’s not fun.
- Poor understanding of the bigger picture. Your purpose (telos).
So basically we are not 100% sure why we are really doing something and it’s not much fun in the process. Not really much of a surprise that so many people struggle with regular exercise and positive lifestyle choices.
Please note there is a big difference between gratification and instant gratification. It might be fun to jump on the scales and see 10lbs weight loss but anyone who has lost that amount of weight can tell you it wasn’t instant gratification. Instant gratification is taking a sip of wine and it tastes great there and then. We probably wouldn’t drink as much wine if we had to wait for 8-weeks to feel the buzz…
The bigger picture
How can we define or quantify strength, fitness or health?
We could use fixed points and numbers for example if you can run 5km in under 25-minutes you are pretty fit. Pretty simple right?
The beauty industry does. You must look a certain way, be a certain body shape and weigh ‘X’ amount. Fortunately, it seems some people are starting to see right past all that nonsense and realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Now it’s got a long way to go but isn’t that a great idea?
Well, shouldn’t strength, fitness, and health be the same…?
Take a look at Original Strengths definition of strength for example:
“Let’s be clear when we say ‘strength’, we are talking about the ability to live life the way that you want to live it; to be able to move, think, work, play, love and laugh throughout your entire life, regardless of your age…” – Tim Anderson & Geoff Neupert
What does it mean to YOU to be physically strong, fit and healthy?
If you want to get a clear view of the bigger picture you need to know it’s purpose to YOU. Why is it important? How does it enrich your life?
For example being physically strong, fit and healthy to me means I wake up each day able to run around with my family and clients with energy, vitality, and vigor with no restrictions on movements (pain-free). It gives me the freedom to run up a mountain one day and crawl around the floor with my son the next. I want to be Strong For Life.
Note there is no mention of how much I weigh, how far I can run or how much weight I can lift. This is something I can achieve in my 30s and maintain in my 60s. This is my Telos (purpose) with regards to health & fitness.
As a side note, I would say there is nothing wrong with having more fixed goals like weighing a certain amount or running a certain distance or lifting a certain weight. In fact, I still have those goals too but I refer to them as ‘waypoints’.
Waypoint – a stopping place on a journey
Think of your telos as the end destination that spans your whole life and the more fixed goals as waypoints along the way. More on that another time.
For now, it’s your turn…
What does it mean to YOU to be Strong For Life?
Share your answers here: firstname.lastname@example.org