I love knowing that fitness makes my life feel full. I can participate in more activities than people even half my age, and I can help more people, thanks to fitness. That said, fitness is not an accident or an event in time. Fitness is a lifestyle that requires an investment.
Conversely, it creates a multitude of regrets for those who don’t make the investment. I feel both humbled and blessed to have made time in my life to maintain health.
This thought is a part of every New Year’s gratitude check. During the last week, I read the results of a survey in BestLife magazine about what people (in their 50’s) tend to regret in life. The consequences of their choices gave me an ever-greater sense of thanks. It concurrently gave me an idea to write about. So, here goes.
The study asked the question, “what do you regret in life?” The most common answers given by people in their 50s were recorded and compiled, and the patterns and rankings that were observed caught my attention. They listed 50 common regrets. All the ones that caught my attention were in the top 10 or so.
Not being more adventurous. We all seem to wish we had more of a free spirit when we were younger instead of listening to people who told us to jump right into our careers and get “serious about our future.” Nearly 25% of respondents said that they wished that had thrown “wise counsel” regarding career and life direction into the wind and gone off on more wild goose chases.
Wasting time hating your body. The general population is dissatisfied with their bodies. No shock there! As a result, we choose not to cherish our bodies and succumb to the temptation that “that is just the way it is.” We don’t seek to renew our mind and make our bodies into the Temple of Christ. This problem gets exacerbated as we age, in that we conclude that our bodies “ain’t like they used to be.”
Not eating healthier. Everyone goes through waves of poor eating. Too often, though, these waves become chronic problems, and before long, the labels that we should be looking at when we pick up a piece of food (namely, the ingredient list) get lost as we focus on the marketing message and the misleading of our tongue. The tongue causes great damage when we speak without thought. It does even more damage when we put food in our mouths based on what we think taste good instead of what we need.
Not travelling more. I get great joy of not just seeing a new place but experiencing it with someone else. In fact, 56% of respondents agreed that they spent too much time sticking close to home.
Not taking care of your health. Health is not something that you can get “around to” when you age, as the act of getting it back may not be possible. Not taking care of your health is a regret that grows in its impact, as children of unhealthy conscious people are often unhealthy as well. Elderly obese people view their own obese children with a sense of shame, knowing that they didn’t set a good example.
Working too much. Few of us have remnants of their working career on the tombstone. Parallel with this report was an equal number of people who wished that they had taken more vacations and earned less money. Skipping out on rest and relaxation may appear to help your career and better prepare your 401K, but that behavior damages your health. As I have learned watching my in-laws and my parents, wealth is nearly meaningless if you don’t have your health.
This is only 6 of the 50 items listed on that list. You can read all of it, here.
I draw four conclusions that address how fitness can be part of the solution to each of these regretful choices and outcomes.
- Living an adventurous lifestyle is easier if you are fit. You can travel to more and different places than if you are not fit. Getting in and out of chairs, falling asleep on a plane or bus, walking between terminals or hotels is all easier if you are fit. Travel for the unfit is scary. What happens if there is no wheelchair available where you are going? What if there is no bus around the park? What if there are no taxis late at night in that part of town. For a fit person, these unexpected long walks in troublesome places are non-events. For the unfit, they justify concern and are deal breakers.
- Fit people generally don’t spend time hating their body and avoid looking at their problems. Instead, they hire a coach, make and execute plans to get fit. They measure their body regularly, for no other reason than to have credible information about their recent efforts and guide their future.
- Fit people understand that eating healthy is integrated into all that they do. Earlier in my life, I used to finish a long run with Cheetos and an energy drink. That worked when I was 35, but not at 45 or 55 years old. Now, I drink a handmade protein shake within 5 minutes of finishing. Within 90 minutes, I eat a complete meal consisting of veggies, a lean protein and a complex carbohydrate. I will not go back to Cheetos.
- Fitness has shown to play a role in extending quality life. Fit people don’t necessarily live longer than unfit people, but the quality of their life activities is higher. They avoid heart disease, wheelchairs and diabetes longer. They remain independent longer. Who wouldn’t want that?
There is a reason I am becoming a coach-I not only have a passion to share “how” with others, but it gives me a chance to tell my story of escape from overworking, sedentary living to that of an active athlete. Start living 2019 with a no regrets attitude.