Take a moment and think about what that word means to you. What comes to mind? A certain look? A certain number? A certain body type? Yourself?
Sadly, that last one, for a lot of us, is definitely not what comes to mind. It certainly hasn’t been for me, even though I am an exercise fiend. Even though I can ride my bike for hours on end, can do at least 3 pull-ups (it took me a year to work up to that!), and have a body fat percentage in the “fit” range.
But I don’t know that I’d refer to myself as “fit.” Because, you see, I can still grab flab on my belly. My triceps have a little excess fat. And my legs, despite doing a gazillion lunges and squats, don’t look like those in all the fitness and health magazines out there. I don’t even like to wear shorts because of it. So surely I’m not what you would call fit.
But maybe I should be.
At the end of the day, “fit” is really a subjective term, an idea that has no absolute boundaries or definitive features. “Fit” means different things to different people, experts included. In fact, being “fit” is something that you may not even be able to define for yourself. I know I’m “fit” when it comes to biking, boxing, and strength training. But I’m currently not in shape enough to run more than 3 miles at a time, and if I had to swim more than one lap in any given pool (kiddie pools not excluded), I’d probably drown. I’m fit at certain things, but not at others.
Look at the linesmen in the NFL. Here you have 300+ pound men, some of them with guts that look like they’ve had a few too many beers, which, based on looks alone, we would assume means they’re not fit. But they’re professional athletes at the top of their game. That counts for something, even though I’m going to go ahead and assume that most of them couldn’t just up and run a half marathon.
It reminds me of that Einstein quote, the one that says, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Maybe Einstein wasn’t talking about fitness levels, but certainly we can apply the core concept of this statement to extend to our own notions about ourselves.
I’m not the fastest runner out there, and maybe I’ll never complete a marathon or a triathlon (again, the swimming thing), and maybe Shape or Self or Fitness magazines will never beat down my door to model the exercises which will (allegedly) make my butt not jiggle, but can’t I call myself fit, anyway? Can’t I call myself fit even if I never lose these last 10 pounds?
It’s time for me–for all of us–to stop defining what we are based on an arbitrarily set standard.
What we see in the magazines or on TV may not be what being “fit” means for us individually. It may not even be realistic. Instead, how about a shift in the way we view ourselves? How about we, as individuals, to define what “fit” means to ourselves and strive for that? How about we continue to monitor where we are and go from there? There doesn’t need to be a set standard of “fit” for the entire population. We already know that one size never fits all.
At the end of the day, the only person we should care about measuring up (or down!) to is the only person who matters: ourselves.
So today, I ask you: What does “fit” mean to you?
Photo courtesy of Stock Exchange