Sometimes, we get deep here at Tiny Fitness. After all, your brain consumes 20-25% of your calories when you’re at rest, so it’s an important part of your fitness journey! So, come, philosophize with me for a moment as we tiptoe through the shadowy world of fitness illusions.
The first three noble truths of Buddhism, roughly, are as follows:
- All life is suffering.
- Suffering exists because of unfulfilled expectations (desire, attachment).
- Suffering can be overcome.
Life is “suffering” because it is impermanent – the tighter we try to hold onto a moment, the more quickly it seems to pass through our grasping fingers. In this sense, “life” as we consider it in the big picture is an illusion; it’s a story that is written moment by moment, but by the time a moment is written into the story, it’s already gone.
(OK, don’t think too hard about it.)
Fitness is suffering, too, sometimes in a more literal way than others. Our fitness journey is made of these impermanent moments, and the results we are chasing are equally impermanent. Rep by rep, squat by squat, mile by mile, we eke our way toward our goals, but every moment along the way is really the truth of the story.
There is no end to your fitness journey. It is a series of moments.
The images and moments you have stored in your head from your fitness journey so far – can you call them back to life? Can you remember your way into your high school jean size? Can you imagine your way into a new weight lifting PR? Probably not…these moments have passed out of reality and into the world of illusion, and you’re left with now as your only moment.
The images and moments you have stored in your head from other sources – the Instagram and Pinterest fitspo, the magazine pages – may literally be illusions. Even those “candid” Instagram photos are often edited within a few pixels of their lives. Waists are nipped, glutes are rounded, teeth are whitened, legs lengthened…whatever it takes to create the illusion of “perfect fitness” that will capture your attention. These frozen moments aren’t proof of fitness – they’re illusions to ensnare you into attachment, to attract you to an impossible ideal, and to distract you from your authentic fitness journey.
Similarly, you don’t have to flip truck tires or fly on a trapeze to be fit. You don’t even have to run a marathon. These images are commonly in the media because they are much more enticing than images of real fitness – repping it out day after day, week after week, training smart and safely to avoid injuries.
You’re probably smart enough to know that wraps, pills, cleanses, and powders that promise phenomenal and fast results are made of illusions, too. They try to attach you to their promises – and don’t their promises sound good?? – of quick changes, but at best they provide you with a temporary illusion of progress.
You might also know that activities like pinning workouts on Pinterest, joining online fitness enthusiast groups or Meetups, and reading fitness magazines burn only a tiny fraction of the calories as actually doing the workouts or participating on a group fitness activity. These activities might give you the “high” and…yes, the illusion…of getting in better shape, but they don’t get you closer to your goals.
These illusions are harmless in and of themselves. I’m not at all against Pinterest, Instagram, or quality fitness magazines. It’s our attachment to the illusions that creates an issue.
You will probably never look like the touched up fitspo photos unless you have key organs and skeletal structures removed. (I’ll let you make that call….) You can, however, look like your best you.
And you can look like your best you for today, because today is the group of moments that we have right now.
And tomorrow? You can look like tomorrow’s best you.
And if you keep putting in the effort – getting proper nutrition to fuel your body, doing effective and consistent workouts – you will find yourself closer and closer to your goals with each passing moment.
So, now – you are closer to your goal.
And so on.
We overcome these illusions by detaching ourselves from them. We can’t be attached to the illusion of our own fitness success; we are only as fit as our most recent workout. Your nutrition is only as good as your last meal. And you are always going to be working toward being your best you, because you are the only person you can be.
Look at fitspo if you want to, but don’t let it into your heart. Don’t believe that you will look like those pictures, because you will always look like you – perhaps a trimmer, tougher you, but still you.
And that is amazing, because you are the only you there is!
Free yourself from any illusion that’s clouding your vision or blocking your path; free yourself from fitness “suffering” (just keep suffering along with me in your training sessions!).
Embrace now, embrace today, and make these moments count toward your goals.
Maybe that means taking a rest day, or maybe it means a hard plyometric workout. Maybe it’s time for a treat meal, or maybe you need to add an extra vegetable to your plate. Your path is your path, and if you follow it step by step, you will arrive at your best you.
What more can you really ask for?