Being asked, “How FIT are you?” is one of those questions that can elicit such fear and anxiety in many, you may as well have asked, “What colour is your pee?” Well, that is more likely to get you a tump* in the face than anything else, but it illustrates the point that it’s an intrusive question. And depending on the questioner’s understanding of what being ‘fit’ means, the answers will vary from, “Well, I’m not as fit as [fill in appropriate star athlete’s name here]” to, “I’m fit enough; why do you ask?”
Answers such as these further highlight the fact that people will define their “fitness levels” either according to some comparable basis, usually of themselves against someone else, or based on a mainstream definition that puts people on a spectrum of some sort. It is very rare that people will compare themselves to … well, themselves: their past versus their present selves.
And therein lies the crux of the matter. Fitness is not confined to just one activity, let alone a certain kind of person to whom one needs to compare oneself. It is instead a collection of habits that make us better, happier, kinder and overall healthier human beings. Lord Chesterfield puts it rather simply:
“Regularity in the hours of rising and retiring, perseverance in exercise, adaptation of dress to the variations in climate, simple nutritious aliment and temperance in all things are necessary branches of the regimen of health.”
How, then, do you become a fitter, healthier human being? It’s pretty simple, really — so simple that a child could do it. Wait a minute: children DO in fact do this. They:
✓ Wake up each day eager and excited to take on or go in search of whatever adventure awaits.
✓ Expend energy on a daily basis, through playing [games] either with others or by themselves, and derive great pleasure from doing so.
✓ Eat until satiated not caring about whether they have finished a meal or not, especially after physical activity.
✓ Get the same number of sleep hours every day/night — sometimes more, if their bodies demand it.
✓ Wear appropriate clothes.
✓ Laugh often and don’t sweat the small stuff.
✓ Show kindness to others, including animals.
✓ Are innocently honest and fiercely loyal to those who show them love and support.
✓ Are always eager to learn new things.
✓ Aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it.
Now, seriously, how simple is this list? What’s stopping us from becoming as fit and happy as our kids are? The adult in you may say, “Kids have nothing like bills, loans, work, etc., to worry about, so they can afford to be carefree and optimistic.” To that I say you are as sure of your mortality as you are of the weather. You never know when a storm will hit or a sinkhole will open up and swallow your house with you in it. So why not seize the day?
Take charge of your fitness and your health by exercising your brain, moving your body and being kind to your soul. Try that first for a time and then compare to see just how far you’ve come. Find the things that you enjoy, and share them with a stranger; be a kid every now and then; eat for sustenance and not for greed; be honest and kind; push your body to new limits, but listen when it speaks; and, finally, believe that you can be happy, fit and healthy.
Your kids sure do!
[*] Jamaican word meaning “thump”