Redefining Fit

by Kelli on January 23, 2013

in Fitness, Health


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

Daisy January 23, 2013 at 9:29 am

For me, being “fit” is being able to keep up with my city lifestyle and then some. I tackle subway stairs, walking to and from the grocery store and taking the dog to the dog park. I want to be able to haul my briefcase up to my office without getting out of breath and to meet my friends at the park after riding my bike. Generally speaking, I want to enjoy life without worrying about whether or not my body can keep up. That is fit, for me.

kel January 23, 2013 at 9:49 am

So perfect!

Stacey January 23, 2013 at 1:07 pm

I started believeing in my fitness when I could run a 5K! Now I’m planning on running 4 half marathons this year. However, I still get a huge boost of fit pride when I take a 3 mile run. That said I can not do a pull up, and I’m ok with that fact.

Amanda January 23, 2013 at 3:45 pm

I feel fit when I reach a new running goal. I feel thin when my clothes fit differently. To me, fit and thin are not always the same thing. Particularly since whenever I up my distance in running, the muscles in my thighs get correspondingly bigger, making my pants tighter. But 3 pull-ups? As far as I’m concerned, that’s beyond fit – that’s olympic level!! ;)

Brandi January 23, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I feel exactly the same. I can climb 14k foot mountains and lead a typical “Colorado” lifestyle full of activity, but looking at myself I rarely use the word fit. Even though I sort of am, at least for the things I want to be doing.

Self-perception can be a mother, ya know?

K January 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

I feel fit when I am doing enough exercise to feel like I always have a shot of energy from it, which generally works out to every-other-day cardio plus something else like yoga on most of the in-between days.

I haven’t run more than 3 miles in over a year, but five years ago I couldn’t run a block, so being able to go out and sweat a couple of miles and come back feeling good is also a token of fitness to me.

Kelly February 26, 2013 at 6:38 pm

For me, “fit” means having the energy to do everything I need to throughout the day without caffeine. It means tone and definition in my legs and arms, and feeling confident about wearing shorts (I haven’t ever. Ever.).

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