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Posts Tagged ‘happiness’

Has she found her H-Spot?

It’s a fact – two thirds of this country is considered overweight; nearly one third of this country is clinically obese.

Although having two thirds of our country overweight is, in and of itself, not a good thing, the fact is, there are many people considered to technically be overweight who are genuinely happy with who and where they are…

…and that is a beautiful thing.

In the big picture, our inner happiness is so much more important than our outer appearance. Don’t get me wrong, physical fitness is important to overall health and should be considered a key factor in your general happiness.

However…

You could be a size 0, but if you’re miserable it doesn’t matter – it’s going to show. If you’re a size 16 and you are truly happy, you’re going to radiate; you’re going to glow. It also works in reverse – if you’re a size 0 and genuinely happy, then that is where you should be. If you are a size 14 and miserable about it, then maybe it’s time to take control.

I am a huge fan of the fitness look, the fitness glow. It lends a certain confidence that is extremely appealing to me. But I am even a bigger fan of true, genuine happiness, the kind that produces a mega-watt smile and an air of confidence; the kind that unintentionally demands attention from everyone in the room.

When it comes to the question of a fitness program, most of us know it’s not a matter of one size fits all. It’s not even an issue of individualizing programs to get people to one common goal. People need to find there happy spot; the place where you are going to be happiest – THEN you come up with a plan; and of course, if you find that you are not happy when you arrive at that spot, tweak your program; change your destination.

Obviously there are certain health issues that come into play if one is too far to either extreme. I would suggest that if one is striving for either extreme at any cost, then there are other issues at play (that or your name is Christian Bale, Jared Leto or Renee Zellweger and it’s part of your job).

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The bottom line is that the human condition is a spectrum, one with a wide, WIDE range. It’s our job to figure out where we as individuals belong to maximize our own joy and understand that if someone else finds that true joy elsewhere, that is okay.

If that true joy is at a size 0, well then you design a program to get you to that size zero – but if you’re going to be a lot happier at size 14 well that is probably where you should be – with no apologies at either end or any size in between.

Sex appeal comes in all different shapes and sizes – the most common denominator, at least from this guy’s point of view?

Happiness.

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Why do you lace up your Brooks or slip on your Vibrams and hit the road? Why do you get up early or stay up late to put in an hour on the treadmill? Why do you put in the miles?

Whatever your reason, the word for what drives you is motivation. We all come to (or I hope will come to) running from different places, and therefore many of us are motivated by different reasons. We have all had the on again off again spurts of running/exercise. Whether it was because we felt we needed to drop a few pounds or our doctor told us we needed to get some exercise, we have all dangled the carrot in front of ourselves to get our feet moving.

And it works – for a while. We achieve the weight goal or bring down the bp. But the all too often truth is that we quote our last President, telling ourselves, “Mission Accomplished” and go back to our old, not-so-healthy routines. Chasing and achieving our goal is gratifying, but then we are left with a void that is usually filled with the very things we were trying to leave behind. If you are only running and exercising so you can fit into a pair of pants or a specific dress, I can pretty much guarantee that you will eventually end up back where you started.

Now I am not saying that the carrot doesn’t have its place in the overall fitness of the general population. It can be a very powerful, if flawed, tool. It gets people off the couch to the treadmill or the road.

It is a start.

Eventually though, we have to be willing to re-frame what it is we want and desire. We need to look in the mirror and ask how that triple helping of Breyer’s or the entire cheese pizza really makes us feel. It feels so good at the time, but what about 10 minutes later – 60 minutes later. Do the bad habits really make us happy in the long run?

I am not one to say there is no place for indulgence. I have and will continue to partake in my share, but if it’s something I do every day, it’s not much of a treat.

Early on in our relationship my wife and I had a conversation about long-term vs short-term profit. If we go solely after the short-term profits we tend to lose out in the long run – just check the economic health of America’s auto industry. She was talking about business, but that principle can be applied across the board in life. Your body is the temple that houses your soul, your well-being. Taking care of your temple for the long haul is more likely to bring inner happiness.

The bottom line is that we need to take that carrot, use it initially to get off the couch and then throw it away.

That is what happened to me last November. My carrot was that my wife declared to the world that she was going to run a half-marathon, on the Cape, in the dead of winter. I wasn’t going to let her do it alone, so I said I would train with her. For two to three weeks, this motivation – this carrot – got me out of bed and onto the treadmill. I would run 2 to 4 miles at a time and not really enjoy myself at all. It was a chore.

The internalization happened when I woke up one morning with a, um, “headache” from card playing the previous night. I dragged myself to the treadmill and started running. Lo and behold, after three miles I actually felt better. I added on a mile, then another and then another. I had to jump off at 6 miles when I realized I had to pick up the kids from school. It was the farthest I had run in memory and I felt GREAT! That was the moment for me. I had discovered that running could make me feel great. I no longer needed the carrot. The motivation to run became a need and has been ever since. Before I knew it I was running 10 – 13 miles a session with a smile on my face. The increased running then led me to eat more healthfully. I already ate well, but as I got into better shape, my engine began to demand cleaner fuel. The better I ate, the better I ran. The more I ran, the better I ate. It was a virtuous cycle*.

It didn’t hurt that I could see the benefits of running and eating well in the mirror and on the scale. I never felt that I was fat or overweight. I wasn’t. But since dropping from 205 lbs. to 175 lbs. I feel noticeably faster and generally happier and healthier. I also don’t get sick nearly as often nor as severely as I once did. I feel great and I don’t want to change that.

The desire – the motivation – needs to come from within. Find a way to do that and I guarantee you’ll find a new level of happiness.

*That’s the best I can come up with for the opposite of a vicious cycle.

***Note: I do find actual carrots to be a wonderful snack. Dipped in a little Sabra hummus, they can be a great healthy and filling midday/late night munchie.***

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