This is a short blog for Development Perspectives to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals Challenge that we are taking part in. This month we are focussing on Goal 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), by partaking in the #HealthOlympics. I’ve decided to go one step further this month, and share some of my insights and experience in how to maintain good health and well-being through fitness. HOWEVER, if fitness is something that you don’t enjoy reading about, nevermind taking part in, well then this piece could be for you. This is not a blog trying to convince or motivate you to become fit, it’s just offering a different approach that you might not have thought of. The inside out approach.
Okay so, let’s start with a little experiment… When you think of the word ‘fitness’, what comes to mind???… Well, I think of health, movement, enjoyment and even nature, because that is what fitness is to me. However, if you think of it as something different, something more negative, I don’t blame you, because in my opinion, the idea of fitness has been hijacked. It’s been hijacked by people who use phrases like “gains” and “max reps” and “leg day” and “Thursday Throwback Transformations” or whatever the hell it is. For example, type “fitness” into Instagram and what do you see? You see these people.
Now I’m not saying that these guys are wrong to use the word fitness for this because whether I like it or not, this is what fitness obviously means to them. But I am saying that it is wrong for you to simply accept that this is what fitness is. Because I know that if I was to simply believe that this is what fitness is, then it would be game over for me and my fitness!!
I’m asking you to think of fitness (or physical activity) as a tool that will help you feel better on the inside. For example, running on a treadmill might help you look better on the outside, but will it make you feel better on the inside? If like me your answer is no, then running on a treadmill is not a tool that will work here. So take some time and discover the types of activities that you actually enjoy.
Think of badminton, kayaking, pitch and putt, tag rugby, trail walks, martial arts, swimming, hurling, table-tennis, cricket…the list goes on and on and on… Try them out. Be brazen and rock up to your local archery club on a Thursday evening. Go get your time at one of the many 5k park runs on a Saturday morning. Join a dog walking club. Keep looking!!! And eventually you will find the activity that is right for you. And once you do, you will begin to shape what the word fitness means to you.
The inside out approach is a much more enjoyable way of achieving good health and well-being through fitness. It’s basically tells theories like ‘No Pain, No Gain’ to “piss off”. It says “Listen buddy, I’ll do what I want. I’ll deal with this my own way. A way that suits me”.
Take your time with your new approach and think of the long term health benefits. Don’t get frustrated if you cannot see any physical quick fixes. Instead, be mindful of how much better you’re beginning to feel on the inside. This way, you will enjoy the journey just as much as you enjoy the destination.