Here are some fast facts regarding the current state of Americans, brought to you be the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009–2010 2, 3
- More than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese (66.67% of people with Body Mass Index of 25+).
- More than 1 in 3 adults are considered to be obese (33.33% of people with Body Mass Index of 30+).
- More than 1 in 20 adults are considered to have extreme obesity (5% of people with Body Mass Index of 40+).
- About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
- More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.
These numbers scare me. They scare me because if statistics like the ones above actually made a difference in causing people to take action in their own lives, the tobacco companies would be out of business by now, and obesity wouldn't be a nationwide problem of epidemic proportions. We know smoking causes cancer. Yet people still do it. We know eating too much and not exercising causes obesity, yet it's all around us. Statistics like the ones above don't hit home enough. They're just numbers, they're not personal.
Personal trainers, and the personal training industry as a whole (especially the type of training and rapid weight loss methods popularized by the mainstream media) in my opinion is an extremely vain industry. We only focus on what's on the outside, not what's going on inside of us and what that means to our overall health. I mean, just a few weeks ago I wrote an article all about fat loss, how to get your abs to show, and stuff like that. That's pretty vain, too, if you ask me! But I implore you to broaden your focus to your health in general.
We all have a finite time on this Earth. We can extend it, shorten it, and dramatically change the quality of it by our daily choices. As the knight in "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade" said, if you choose to eat too much, drink too much, not exercise and the like, "You chose poorly".
You've got friends who love you and want to keep spending time with you. You've got family members who want to keep visiting around holidays. You might have siblings and children, and chances are they want you to stick around as long as you can! And you may have a spouse, and I can guarantee your spouse wants the best for you, and they want to go through life together for as long as possible.
So I implore you, don't do it for looks. Motivating yourself to exercise and eat well for purely aesthetic purposes is like going to school with the pure intent to get a letter on a piece of paper. It's vain, its fruitless, its ultimately unfulfilling. You'll get far more value out of your exercise if you do it with a long term intent of seeing the amount of progress to be gained, and remaining an "active contributor" in your own lives and the lives of those you love, just as you'll get far more out of an education when you focus on the knowledge to be gained, than the end product.
You might be thinking, "What does a 28 year old know about age? He's still a kid?" 10 years ago, I didn't feel much like a kid. Sports related injuries had beaten my body up. I was in physical therapy non-stop between 2006 and 2013, for hamstring, knee, hip, lower back, upper back, neck and shoulder related injuries, ALL of which stemmed from a single muscle tear I suffered in 2006. The compensation ran deep, and worked its way slowly up.
Years of physical abuse, poor posture, and lack of mindfulness in the weight room had led me to become extremely stiff, painful, and aged far beyond my years. I used to joke with my friends and parents that I was "18 going on 80", but I actually wasn't joking. I hurt so badly I couldn't bend over and reach my hands past my kneecaps. My hips and lower back were so stiff that my squat and my hinge were pretty much the same thing! I was a mess.
But I wasn't prepared to live my life that way forever. At some point I knew I'd have wife, kids, and family nearby, and I wanted to be able to play with them as they grew up! I knew that there was a way to change it, to turn back time, to feel capable, confident, and to move with ease once more. My pain was what motivated me to become a coach and help others avoid my plight. I decided against physical therapy because I wanted to help people to prevent the problems I had, not work with them AFTER they had already developed them.
And you know what? Though for a few years there I wasn't sure I'd ever be "pain-free", I pretty much am now. I respect my body, I feed it food that keeps it energized and ready to take on the day, I exercise daily, even if it isn't for more than 20-30 minutes, I still make sure to do it, without fail. And you can too.
Age will inevitably catch up with all of us, but we can minimize the aging process by taking care of our bodies daily, by feeding it food that not only brings us joy and fuels us with energy, by finding joy in our privilege to be able to move, play, get stronger, and by having purpose in everything we do.
If you want motivation, like, true honest motivation, do it because you want to live a meaningful, quality, long-lasting and full life, free of the disease and pain so many others around us suffer from.
Do it because you want to be there for your family, your friends, your children, you husband, your wife.
Do it because you love them, and you don't want your time cut shorter than it need be.
Do it because you want to remain an active participant in their lives, and not stuck on the sidelines observing because your body is no longer willing to keep up.
Do it for YOU.