In case you think exercise is only for people who love it and want to get ripped, here’s a personal reminder of how getting in shape, no matter who you are, is about so much more.
Don’t Tell My Son
I’ve made it a goal to always say yes when my son says, “Let’s run!” And he says it a lot.
The only stipulations are:
1. Not in a dangerous/inappropriate environment.
2. He can’t know about my goal (or he’d take advantage).
I like that it takes me out of my own adult world of acting like I’m too civilized, or like life is too serious to take off running just for the fun of it.
I also like that I’m physically able to do it.
It’s never more than a 30 second jog at most. I won’t win any medals for my exemplary performance. But it’s things like this that are the exact reason why I choose to stay in shape.
I don’t care about being the strongest, fastest, fittest, or sexiest person in the world. I just want to be able to give my best to my family.
Here’s what that means to me.
I’m deceptively strong.
This isn’t a humble brag. To people who really care about lifting heavy, my numbers aren’t impressive. But for the rest of us regular folks, I can lift more than you might think is necessary.
Because to give my best to my family, I want to be healthy. Strength is a big part of that.
More practically, if we have a new fridge, I want to be capable of being on the two man team that lifts it and carries it upstairs without breaking my back.
Heck, on a less realistic note, I like knowing if my wife were stuck in a burning building, I’d be able to lift her and carry her out without a problem.
I don’t have to be the strongest person in the world (or even in the gym). But I like never having to question whether I’m capable of providing the help my family needs.
I’ll never break a record in a marathon. I don’t even have the desire to run a marathon.
But there’s no doubt in my mind that if there were a zombie apocalypse, I could manage 26.2 miles on foot to get my family to safety (assuming that’s what it took).
On a more practical note, I like being able to run alongside my kids as they learn to ride a bike.
I like being able to run back to the car for my wife when we forget the diaper bag and our youngest has a blowout in the store (thank goodness she’s potty-trained now!).
I also just like having the ability to be on the go all day and not feel the need to stop and take a break if my family is having fun.
It’s not so much about speed, it’s about having the endurance to live a life without missing out on the times I value most.
I want to be careful how I say this, because sexy comes in all different shapes and sizes.
For me, personally, I have no desire to maintain chiseled abs, or a bodybuilder’s physique. I’ll never be on the cover of a fitness magazine, and I’m ok with that.
I like having beer and pizza when I feel like it, and I enjoy a chocolate chip cookie (or 8) every once in awhile.
At the same time, it’s important to me that as I get older, my wife still finds me attractive. It might not even be something she cares about all that much (although I think she appreciates it anyway), but I like her knowing I’m putting in the effort.
I also do it for me.
The standards I set for myself in this department may change over the years, but I always want to be happy with how I see myself in the mirror.
Of course, this can (and should) be true regardless of your body type, but let’s be honest, for me, being in shape helps.
What “fit” means to you might look totally different than it does to me.
The only guidelines that matter are the ones you set for yourself. I’m not trying to make you feel guilty if you aren’t in shape, or if you can’t do the things I can.
None of that matters.
What’s important is that you’re able to live your life in a way that keeps you as happy and healthy as as possible, for as long as is within your control.
I don’t care if I’m the fittest person in the world.
If running with my son whenever he asks makes him feel acknowledged, loved, and accepted, my hard work has paid off.
That’s why I work out.
If this message resonates with you, know that you don’t have to love working out to achieve a level of fitness you can be happy with.
Start small. Go for daily walks, or do a few squats and push-ups everyday. If you want something more specific, try our Home Workout for Beginners.
No matter where you start, or how small a step you take, you aren’t wasting your time. Don’t be discouraged when you see people who are stronger or faster than you.
You’re not doing it for that.
You’re doing it for your friends. You’re doing it for your family. You’re doing it for you.
You’re doing it because your life has value, and the work you put into it will only increase the quality time you get with the people you love most.