Declaring health and fitness a religion may seem a tad exaggerated, but let’s examine some observations.
- Idols who possess a “perfect” physique are worshipped.
- People pray to the gods of great glutes, abs, curves, long legs, and other specific body parts or shapes.
- We search for a savior in the form of the next greatest diet or fad workout program hoping it will make all of our dreams come true.
- With fervor we devour magazines, websites, books, and other resources to help us mold our bodies into something we can be proud of.
- We pack gyms to work off calories from evil foods and purify ourselves from over indulgence and offer our sacrifice of a gut-busting effort as sweet incense to the gods of iron and cardio machines.
A bit exaggerated? Perhaps. But if you’re nodding in agreement you’ve likely seen this in action, or even participated. At one time I was an avid, evangelical member of the religion of health and fitness. I wasn’t trolling neighborhoods, knocking on doors, and attempting to share the good news of a healthy diet and rigorous workout routine sprinkled with a hefty dose of obsession, but was close enough.
Health and Fitness. A New Religion?
Health and fitness was a tool I used to punish myself for overeating, workouts were performed out of hatred for certain parts of my body, and all I cared about was how I looked and what I could do to manipulate my body into a form that wouldn’t disgust me.
The gym was my sanctuary. But this wasn’t an unhealthy obsession, right? I mean, how could working out every day and being meticulous about what I ate be anything but a good thing? So what if I was exhausted from long, frequent workouts – at least I was burning calories! So what if avoided certain foods and developed disordered and binge eating behaviors – at least I was dedicated and disciplined!
My obsession with my physical appearance and workout and nutrition practices were not healthy.
Because I was consumed with my body and spent hours per day obsessing over meals and getting in my next workout I lost sight of what truly mattered in my life. This is one glaring reason I don’t write exclusively about nutrition and working out and include more “real life” stuff (e.g. topics such as getting out of your comfort zone, not allowing fear to hold you back, facing Oh Shit! moments, bravely saying “Screw perfection“!).
I don’t want to add to the problem of making health and fitness seem overly complicated. I don’t want your life to revolve around eating and going to the gym. It should be part of your life, but not dominate it.
Health and fitness is a growing religion, and many are losing sight of what truly matters. They’re spending hours per day obsessing over food and combing the internet for the latest fad diet or trick for eating fewer calories.
I’ve lived on both sides. I’ve spent years of my life spending every waking moment obsessing over my next meal. Refusing to miss a single workout for any reason.
Then I finally realized I revolved my entire life around food and a gym schedule.
This, my friend, was not healthy. It’s why I’ve left the religion of health and fitness.
What’s the Solution?
Simple. Take the opposite approach. Focus more on real life and less on health and fitness.
Health and fitness should make your life better. It should allow you to live life to the fullest. It should not dominate the majority of your time or mental energy.
So how do you do it?
Yes, follow a great workout routine and simple nutrition guidelines, but then use the rest of your energy and effort and focus more on your life and less on health and fitness.
You can achieve this by committing to the basics (i.e., bare essentials) of strength training and nutrition, exclusively, and use the remainder of your time to engage in other, perhaps better and significantly more important, areas of your life. Take that extra time to do something you enjoy. Read more. Learn a new skill. Discover a new hobby. Spend time with a friend. Get your finances in order. Do anything that makes your life better or reduces stress.
You can refer to these great articles for the basics of nutrition and strength training:
- The Diet That Has No Name (and Why It May be the Best Thing Ever)
- 7 of the Best Bodyweight Exercises You Should be Doing
- Triple-Exercise Total Body Workouts
Practice the bare essentials and forget about the remaining stressful details that can easily consume us. Use your energy on better endeavors. Remember, health and fitness should make your life better. It should be part of your life, but it shouldn’t define you.
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