If you were an alien visiting this planet for the first time and taking in all the different sources of information we have available to us (TV, internet, magazines/newspapers, books etc) to learn about your new planet and it’s people, you’d quickly form opinions and ideas about our society.
Some of these would be absolutely and hysterically incorrect but others would be very accurate.
For example, an alien might come to believe that “Twitter” is a God who doles out important edicts in 140 characters or less, all day long.
They may determine that our primary food source is french fries and burgers from McDonald’s (and don’t forget the Coke!).
They may wonder why some people on this planet are starving and yet other parts of the world have grocery stores that are so overflowing with food that some of it gets tossed in the trash every day. They may come to believe that every American swallows a small white circle called a “pill” that has a funny name that gives them a dog, a spacious back yard with luscious green grass and a smiling husband and kids but also has to watch out for side effects like diarrhea, skin rashes, leukemia and even death.
This would look like a really strange place to someone who’s never seen any of it before.
Let’s say this alien’s job was to understand what being “fit” meant to humans, in particular, people in America.
I know you know where I’m going here, but just for a minute try to view this stuff through the lens of totally fresh eyes.
What would you see?
What would you learn?
Using the same sources of readily available information, much of it coming from heavily available advertisements and articles, this alien would soon create an idea in their head that being FIT equals:
- being tan skinned
- having no visible body fat other than in female breasts and booties (which may or may not be enhanced by implants or injectables)
- being tall
- usually being caucasian
- having well developed and very visible muscles
- wearing very little clothing but whatever clothing fit people do have is tight fitting
- spending hours upon hours in an enclosed space called a “gym”
- eating lots of fruits and vegetables, low fat foods and also powdery substances called “protein shakes”
- working so hard that your body cries visible tears (sweat)
- demonstrating amazing feats of strength and endurance by completing competitions like marathons, powerlifting, triathlons etc.
- moving fast
I’m sure you can think of a few other things that would seem to be typical of a “fit person” in America if viewed through the eyes of an alien. That list is a little tongue in cheek but how much of it do you agree with?
What is being fit? What does it mean to you?
In our real “human” lives we take this same information and internalize it, some of it consciously, and some not so consciously and we kind of develop a similar impression of what it means to be fit.
I have spent many years being frustrated that my body physically didn’t look the way it was “supposed to” despite all the things I did to be “fit”.
I wasn’t the right size, body type or height. My body has and had plenty of visible body fat.
To someone just looking at my outside at most points in my life, and possibly even today, I may not appear fit . . .to them. I know I’m fit regardless of what I may look like to someone else.
Fitness and “being fit” is not a one size fits all definition and it certainly doesn’t have one single look or body type. Being fit doesn’t always look like what we think it looks like.
Here is what being fit means to me.
It is feeling and being strong and capable. Having the energy to do all the things I need to do and not be completely spent afterwards. Or being spent afterwards (sometimes that’s the goal!) but recovering quickly enough to be excited to do it again.
Being fit is being able to carry my snow tires on their rims from my basement to the back of my car without needing to ask anyone for help.
Being fit to me is being able to bike 30 miles on one day and still have the energy to meet up with friends afterwards.
Being fit to me is being able to help a friend move without being totally sore the next day or being sore but not having it destroy me.
Being fit to me is being able to climb several flights of stairs and not be out of breath for very long.
For me, being fit is so much about function than aesthetics.
It’s about feeling powerful, experiencing joy, having good health (something else with more than one definition), pushing oneself and pulling back as needed, and being able to adjust to a change in course.
I’m not planning to ever be a marathon runner or a powerlifter (but props to those who are).
I’m not fast. I’m also not that flexible. And I have some foot injuries that pop up occasionally that slow me down a little and even cause me to modify some things.
However, I also have a lot of strength and endurance that doesn’t quit at the end of a long day.
I know when to rest my body, when to give her the time and care she needs. I know when to push myself and when to back off. I know what I’m capable of, what I’m not and when it’s possible that I might entirely be wrong about myself.
My hard workouts are still hard. Even though I’m physically fit, I get out of breath, muscles cramp, and aches and pains sometimes make me stop before I want to. I sweat. I pant. I get rosy cheeks.
But I’m willing to adapt, modify and change my view if it means being able to continue moving forward, making progress and smashing my own goals. Being fit is accepting where you’re at right now, but also being interested in doing at least one of the following: maintaining, growing, challenging or changing. You decide what, how and how much. You decide what’s enough.
I urge you to question what you believe “being fit” means. If your beliefs about what “fit” looks like don’t match up with what you look like, despite your effort, energy and capabilities, throw it out the window and build your own definition from scratch.
What are you capable of?
What incredible stuff does your body do?
What sort of activity makes you feel incredible? What brings you joy?
What do you wish you were even better at?
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