First, let’s get past the question of whether or not I am super fit. Like everyone else, I have good days and bad days, but for the most part, I exercise regularly, I maintain a healthy diet, and I feel great. So, for the sake of this article, let’s all agree that I am super fit.
Now that we’ve established that I possess an amazing level of fitness, let’s take a moment and ask the question; Why am I super fit? Why is anyone super fit?
I’m serious. Why do some people consistently make healthy diet and exercise choices when so many others don’t? Why do some people live a healthy lifestyle year after year, but others can’t?
The simple answer, and likely most popular, is that some of us have above average will power, determination, and tenacity. In fact, I bet most of you would say it takes a special type of person to be super fit. You either have it, or you don’t. I disagree.
The Truth Behind a Healthy Lifestyle
If you think about it, words like will power, determination and tenacity, don’t explain anything. So let’s try to find a better answer, a more satisfying one, something that can be of real help to those of you looking for motivation.
To get there, let’s ask the question of what makes someone super fit from the perspective of free willbeing an illusion. Hear me out.
The truth is, you are a conscious observer of a complex arrangement of matter, but you are only an observer. You, or that feeling of you, have no control. You are not calling the shots. You may think you are, but you’re not. Your brain is.
There is value in approaching the why am I super fit question from this angle. Because, in the context of no free will, nobody has a particular trait or potential to live a better and healthier lifestyle than anyone else.
I firmly believe this, which is why I insist, if I can find the motivation to live a healthy lifestyle, anyone can.
For a moment, put aside any arguments, and again, for the sake of finding a tangible answer to our question, let’s all agree there is no such thing as a free will.
With no free will, we can no longer use words like will power, determination, and tenacity. These are the words we’d use to describe a consciousness that is in control.
The First Step to Changing Your Life
With the viewpoint of the brain doing all the decision making, I’m going to take an honest look at what motivates me to be physically fit.
Looking back almost a decade, I have no idea why I took that first step towards changing my life. Knowing myself back then, I assume it was for all the wrong reasons. Something along the lines of thinking, if I looked better, I would be happier.
In reality, there are a million reasons why I might have taken that first step, but what made my brain take the second step, the third, and so on? There must have been some reward(s).
Back then, I was way out of shape. I was an overweight, couch dwelling, low self-esteem, pile of; you get the picture. After that first workout, my body was undoubtedly screaming, “what’s up with all the unnecessary pain and suffering!”
Here’s what I’m getting at. There was no immediate physical reward that motivated me to take the next steps, so it must have been something else. Perhaps a comment from a stranger, inspiration from a book, an existential crisis, or a combination of things. Who knows?
Here’s what I do know. The cause and effect of the universe played out in a way that my brain maintained a mediocre level of fitness for years. Then, I discovered ultrarunning, and mymotivationwas turbocharged.
I’m not going to turn this into a lecture on the merits of ultrarunning. However, I will focus on the specific characteristics of ultrarunning that in retrospect, we’re extremely rewarding, and the key to my motivation in the early years of my fitness transformation.
I’m not saying that these are essential elements to consider when choosing a sport or activity. What I am saying, this is what I firmly believe made the difference for me.
The Ultrarunning Community
There is a unique communal aspect to ultrarunning that I haven’t witnessed in other sports. The focus isn’t so much on winning, but more about setting personal goals. Everyone is cheering for everyone else. No matter your fitness level, or what your goals are, you will find overwhelming support from the other runners.
The ultrarunningcommunity understands that it’s the battle in your head that counts and points on the board are a just small part of the story.
Belonging to a group, being accepted by my peers, helping and supporting others, these are all incredibly rewarding to the brain. We are all social creatures. It’s in our genes.
Here’s the point, the reason I stuck with running as a sport early on has absolutely nothing to do with determination or discipline. Instead, it has everything to do with the positive emotional and social aspects of the ultrarunning community that my brain found immensely pleasing. Something I stumbled into by luck, the kind of luck you could be experiencing right now by reading this.
Ultrarunning and the Fountain of Youth
Is Ultrarunning a Fountain of Youth? It might be. When I first started meeting people in the ultrarunning community, I was always shocked when I learned how old they were. Soon, my perception of aging was flipped upside down.
Not only did everyone look much younger than they were. Most acted younger and ran because it was fun. The only time I ran for fun is when I was a kid. I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on.
Recent studies have proven that vigorous exercise can increase telomere length. Telomeres are the biological aging markers found at the tips of our chromosomes. It is now a known fact that high amounts of running can turn back time in our bodies at the cellular level, as much as nine years.
Again, looking back, some self-preservation mechanism in my brain must have been triggered. It wasn’t my ego’s desire to look younger that kept me going, but my brain’s ability to detect the positive changes in my body, a way for it to tip the scales towards survival. I probably thought it was my choice, but my brain was in control.
A Runner’s High is a Moving Experience
Fast forward to today, when I ask myself what motivates me to get out there and exercise. My answer is the ability to move with purpose. I’ll explain.
Runner’s high is very real, and once my brain got a taste of that endorphin rush, it never looked back.
I don’t know what runner’s high feels like to others, but I can describe what it feels like to me and why I equate it to movement.
Over the years, I achieved a level of fitness that allows my body, most of the time, to move without any objection. If the brain wants to go faster, the body runs faster. If the brain wants to jump, the body jumps without giving it a second thought.
During those moments, when my brain and body are working in unison, and my conscious mind can sit back and enjoy the ride, I experience such an overwhelming sense of well-being and purpose. Everything is doing what it is meant to be doing, and it feels transcendent. That’s my runner’s high.
I am super fit at 50 because I’m physically addicted to exercising. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen to you.
Cerebrum E Cerebrum
For my final thoughts, my brain would like to speak directly to yours. All illusions of self, please leave the room.
Now that’s it’s just us brains, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to process my story.
As I’m sure you gathered, the key to being fit and staying fit is to find and maintain the right motivation. Trying to fit into an old dress, wanting abs, increasing your bench press are all fleeting objectives of the ego. Goals like this won’t get you to the finish line.
To reach your goals, you must focus on enjoying the process and not the results.
For me, enjoying the process initially meant finding an activity that provided a sense of community, one that provided support and social interaction. From there, it progressed to feeling younger and feeling comfortable in my body. Eventually, exercise turned into play, and moving is the name of the game.
When I walk out that door to go for a run, it’s because I want to. Not because I have too, or feel like I should.
It took a long time to get here, but it is so incredibly worth it. Getting fit is the simplest and surest way to dramatically increase the quality of your life. And I’ll repeat. There is absolutely nothing special about me. If I can do it, anyone can.
If I had to choose a single point to leave you with my fellow brains, it would be this. Take that first step, and never look back.
Cycling Iceland’s Ring Road for me was extremely tough physically and mentally. Every day was an absolute soul-sucking struggle until the end. It took everything I had to finish in 14 days. Here are the things I wish I knew before starting my trip.
If you are new to running, understand this, humans are the most proficient long-distance runners nature has ever created. Any inability to run has been eliminated from your genes centuries ago. It wasn’t that far back in history, that if you couldn’t run, you would die. Everyone can run.
After completing my first ever bicycle tour, I immediately got home and booked another trip. After five weeks of touring Southeast Asia, I couldn’t wait to get back out there. The plan was to cycle Iceland’s Ring Road, but I wanted to make some upgrades to my bike. Here you will find the specs on the custom bicycle touring wheels I order through ProWheelBuilder.com