The 12 Gifts of Fitness, 2015 Edition: Day 3 – Getting Real

The 12 Gifts of Fitness

[Originally published February 18, 2015]

Editor’s note, 12/17/2015: I just want to say that I really did start Days 2 and 3 of the 12 Gifts of Fitness series with Star Wars references a year ago. Go see The Force Awakens – it’s very cool.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (actually, it was probably just Pennsylvania, where I grew up), I thought that people who looked fit and healthy had some sort of magic gene pool that they were drawing from to get that wonderful healthy glow about them. They were the lucky ones.

I, of course, was unlucky. Chubby-ish as a kid, piling on more pounds through the years, always tired, always feeling like life was somehow passing me by.

Oh, how fitness has changed all of that. Not just what I look like to the outside world, or in the mirror…but in what I now believe to be one of the biggest gifts of fitness.

We learn what’s real.

One of the best fitness tools ever, for figuring out what's real: a simple notebook. With an actual pen, even. (Image courtesy of tor00722 at
One of the best fitness tools ever, for figuring out what’s real: a simple notebook. With an actual pen, even. (Image courtesy of tor00722 at

There’s noise out there (“you have the ‘fat gene’,” “you have bad genetics”) and then there’s, well, reality.

The reality is that there’s a massive cause/effect relationship between living healthfully and experiencing actual health. The only way to know that, of course, is to live healthfully over a period of time, and see what happens next.  The easiest way to track that cause/effect relationship is to write down what you’re doing, and see what the results are, and go from there.

When I started to write it all down, I discovered that the self-limiting belief “I have bad genes, so I can’t be really healthy, no matter what I do” was actually leading me to do the very things that kept me unhealthy! Whoa! I joke about it now, but it was no joke back when I finally figured this out: “I thought I had bad genes and had tried everything to take care of myself. Turned out I had ‘tried everything’…except eating well and exercising.”

More than six years later, my health profile rivals that of the people I was always envious of, and I know what’s real. Good nutrition, a consistent fitness routine, thinking positively, and having a life that I love, surrounded by people I love and work I enjoy.

This tracking concept works even when the goal isn’t specifically fitness-related, too. Say you want to get more sleep at night, and yet you find yourself with some type of device on your nightstand more often than not. How about tracking the days when you sleep well vs. when you don’t, and then seeing where that little device was for each of those nights? (Hint: When my devices are in another room, I always sleep better. Always. Here’s one article of the many out there that supports that idea.)

It’s a huge gift: the gift of knowing that good health isn’t found in a magic pill, or a magic gene. It’s within us to find for ourselves. It takes practice and making mistakes along the way, but isn’t that what life is about, after all?

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