I have a serious question for you.
If you aren’t the best at something, is it worth doing?
I am pretty sure that most of you, after thinking about it for a moment, will come to the same conclusion as me. Of course!
Think about it; if there wasn’t a point to doing something unless you were the best at it, then you probably wouldn’t do 99.99999% of the things you do (My apologies to anyone who is the best at something. My bad.) For example, I like to play FPS games like Gears of War and Call of Duty on Xbox Live. I also get shot in the face; a lot. I am far from the best, or even from top-tier (let’s be honest, I kind of suck) but I keep doing it because I find it entertaining.
Here’s another, more pertinent, example; I train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu very seriously and I also compete both locally and abroad internationally. I do so with moderate success, but I am far from a being a World Champion. So why do I keep doing it and pushing to be better? Because I enjoy both the activity itself and the benefits I reap from it!
So why is it when it comes to personal health and fitness that people take an all or nothing approach? I can’t count the number of times I have heard people lament that they just aren’t going to do anything because they don’t think they can ever have six-pack abs? (“You’re dreaming about gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly brie time baby!” Anyone? 7 minute abs?!? “There’s Something About Mary“?!?!? Come on people!)
When you take a step back and think about it, that is absolutely ridiculous!
I get it, I honestly do. There is a definite cultural mis-perception that being fit and healthy means you must have bulging muscles or 3% body fat. Every magazine and blockbuster movie throws this image upon us and, like a bad pop song, this image worms its way into our heads and takes up residence. Resistance is futile.
The covers of magazines such as Men’s Health, Oxygen or Muscle & Fitness all are pitching you a product; what people see as the pinnacle of health and fitness. They want you to look at the men and women adorning the covers and interior photo shoots with their Adonis and Aphrodite-like physiques and think to yourself “Man, I don’t look like that…” and then subsequently buy the issue so that you can learn all the secrets to rippling abs and bulging biceps contained within. The problem though, is that a lot of people confronted with that imagery are out of shape and/or suffering from some level of poor self-esteem so what happens is the opposite; they decide it isn’t even worth trying. The image they have of themselves is so far removed from what is staring back at them from the newstand, or from up on the silver screen, that they don’t think they can ever measure up, so they just admit defeat before even starting the battle.
Could you imagine if during the Avengers movie Hawkeye or Black Widow just hung up their S.H.I.E.L.D. badges mid-flick because they realized they can never do what Thor or the Hulk can?
I shudder to think how crappy a movie that would have been! Just because they can’t fly or ignore being hammered in the face repeatedly by laser beams did they give up because they weren’t the “best“? Of course not! The issue is “the best” is a problematic term. Unless you are involved in a competitive endeavor there is no point in comparing yourself to someone else (unless we are talking about friendly gym competitions with buddies, like who can do the most dips or pull-ups; those can be fun and productive). The key is to continually work for your own personal best. Instead of looking at a magazine, lamenting why your arms aren’t flex-worthy or why your stomach isn’t flat, look in the mirror and recognize the hero living inside you that is just waiting to be set free with the right amount of dedication and hard work! Is that hero going to be the mighty Thor? Maybe or maybe not. Perhaps inside of you is a Blue Beetle or Booster Gold; not as buff as everyone’s favorite Asgardian but super-heroes nonetheless!
While it is nice to have something to strive for, the constant barrage of fitness model images can sometimes be counter productive. They create a sense of defeatism in those who feel they can never reach that goal.
The good news is there is a middle ground!
Fitness is not an all or nothing endeavor. Don’t just abandon all hope just because you think you can’t look like you belong on the cover of a fitness magazine (don’t sell yourself short though, I have seen some amazing Heroes Transformations in my time). Some people are born with great genetics, but for the majority of us it is going to take a healthy dose of hard work! The way I look at it though is that it’s the superheroes who have to struggle to succeed that are the most compelling. Not everyone is born on Krypton, and not everyone becomes faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound just because they do a little sun-bathing. Sure Superman, the pinnacle of the superhero world, is fun to read but give me the Hawkeyes and Black Widows over him any day of the week.
The people who work hard to reach the height of their potential are the most compelling to me. Just like those heroes I prefer to read about I work hard to be fit and healthy, following the 8 Laws of the Jerd-Herd, and just because I don’t feel magazine cover-worthy doesn’t mean I am not going to put in the effort to reach my personal best!
So what about you? Are you going to suffer defeat and give up on yourselves, or are you going to stand tall and kick the evil Captain Lethargy right in his face? Do the right thing for yourself, be your own fitness hero! (Cue Joe Esposito’s “Karate Kid” anthem now!) Let me know what kind of hero you plan on becoming by dropping a comment below, make sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter and be sure to Sign up for our free newsletter! (No spam, I promise!)