It’s better to feel good than look good.
You’re going to get old, gray, and your muscles will atrophy. If you’re lucky that is. The fortunate among us will live long lives full of wrinkles, love, laughter, and wisdom. So why is it then that instead of savoring the journey, accepting, and even cherishing the aging process, many are in a desperate race to hang on to that youth at all costs – to keep that wrinkle free face, those toned abs, and that tight body no matter what.
The reality is that in a race versus father time, you will lose…every time. But that’s not what you see every day when you turn on the television. That’s not what you see in glossy magazines. You are told you should be leaner, younger, and more fit with each passing every year. How exactly does that work?
Many in the fitness business are happy to sell you a short-term fantasy ‘goal’ predicated on the myth of the before and after photo. Of course, no one ever talks about the after the after photo. Fitness isn’t a before and after photo. It’s a state of being well. Fitness is a way to move and a way to feel. It isn’t a way to look.
We all have vanity. Like anyone, I look in the mirror and I have that critical voice that says I can be better – more attractive, more toned, and find those washboard abs I used to rock. But then I remember that voice is simply my ego talking and my ego isn’t driving this bus…I am. The real me desires a way to feel, not a way to look. Ultimately I want to feel graceful, to feel a sense of accomplishment, and feel like I am nurturing my body, not manipulating it.
What would your fitness life look like if you simply focused on how you feel versus how you look? Would it be more enjoyable, more fun, and even more purposeful? That’s not to say that feeling ‘good’ means being lazy. It feels pretty good to take a nap and eat a plate of french fries. Ironically though, feeling good in the short-term can lead to feeling bad in the long run. Feeling comes down to a state of being, not a temporary fix. A fitness goal as it relates to feeling might be a state of grace or a state of flow. Establishing a ‘feeling state’ takes the introspective work of finding comfort in the discomfort and finding that right balance - vulnerability intersecting with being protective - stillness juxtaposed with intensity - the balance of rest versus work.
What is your feeling goal? To be graceful like a dancer, powerful like a swimmer, or strong like a wrestler. Think of the word that encompasses the essence of how you want to feel and tape it to the mirror. While you’re at it take down the before and after photo. The feeling can last – the picture wont.