Fitness as a skill

How often have we seen someone who is especially fit looking and thought, “easy for him/her. They have good genetics. He’s motivated. She’s always been healthy.

They have something we don’t have.

The hard truth is that most of the people we know who are healthy, who are fit and athletic — have worked REALLY hard to get there.

Fitness, wellness, a healthy balanced lifestyle — these are all states we can exist in only after we’ve put in the work and the effort.

Think of fitness as a skill.

Similar to possessing a high level of proficiency with a musical instrument. Or fluently speaking a second (or third, or fourth) language. The first time you attempted it — you don’t have much skill.

Unlike when we see a particularly fit person, when we see a concert pianist we immediately understand that a significant amount of practice and study has gone into the development of their skill. Watching the Olympics this past summer — there were numerous stories that featured an athlete who worked with their parent or coach for 1000’s of hours refining their skill. That kind of commitment and effort doesn’t seem outrageous.

Because it can shift our perspective — It is valuable to think of our health and fitness as a skill as well.

If we want to be fit- we have to put in the work.

When we realize (or accept) that our fitness needs improvement — that we are not where we want to be with our health (weight, strength, stamina…) — we can now re-frame the issue. Similar to how we might approach wanting to learn to play the piano. We may not posses this skill today — but if we work at it and learn the steps that are required — we can begin to develop a rudimentary level of skill.

For the piano you’d need to learn how to read music, play scales, and what the different keys are etc.

To increase our fitness skill we need to learn:

  1. what nutrients our bodies needs,
  2. how we can supply those nutrients, and in what quantity,
  3. how much activity our bodies need to engage in — and,
  4. what it means if we don’t.

For most of us this may be the first time, since we were kids, that we’re addressing our fitness. We’ll need to work at developing our skill from the ground up.

We need to practice at it consistently. And we’ll need to continue this practice over a long period of time (spoiler alert, it’s your whole life). This is how we develop proficiency.

When I was in college — I had no fitness skill. I was unhealthy and making poor choices.

Over the last 8 years, however, I've been slowly honing my skill. I’m not concert pianist (yet). But I am getting better. I still struggle. I have weak moments. It’s not always easy to make it to the gym, to pass on the treats at work, or to skip the adult beverage on a Saturday evening. I’ll admit — sometimes I just really want 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Still, when I re-frame the situation — and think about developing my skill at fitness — in an effort to live a healthy balanced life — I can find the strength to make the better decision.

Each of us has the ability to develop this skill.

I know, without a doubt, that this is true. Let’s re-frame our relationship with fitness and health — begin to consider it a skill similar to any other. And through this journey together — we can begin honing that skill — and see the improvement in our lives.


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