Keeping a fit mind through reading and learning is something I was more encouraged on as a child than keeping a fit body. Our upbringings lead us to fall into either side when the right path may be a balance of both. I wasn’t overweight as a child by any means; I would use the term twig-like. The unhealthy food was expensive, and the healthy food was too expensive, somewhere in the middle we just settled on bland. From the outside, it would look like I was on a diet, but I was just too lazy as a kid to eat enough.
I loved the idea of sports, the competitiveness, and the strategy drew me in. It started with catching the games on TV and then I graduated to watching it live. I wanted to participate at some point. I didn’t have the chance to join a fancy team due to financial reasons, but I would occasionally find organized open play teams in the park I used to visit. I felt alive running around those fields as a kid. The visuals of superstar athletes were the backdrop of my mind and the inspirational spark that led me to emulate some of their moves and gestures on the field. The two sports I love are Baseball and Basketball. Baseball has a closer place in my heart. I lived just four blocks from the Yankee Stadium, whose team is the winningest franchise in baseball; that influenced my sports preferences. Playing with other passionate kids, I started to see that although the mind is critical in your skill set, the body is the core tool that executes that.
The core lesson transcends sports; the body and mind get stronger when they are both fit. There is a connection between the body and mind. When I’m sick, I can’t think straight, when I’m stressed (perceived) I feel sick.
In high school, there were certain ‘types’ of kids who were in the gym consistently. For stupid reasons, I didn’t want to be thought of being part of that group. Another part of me was intimidated by the big guys there and not knowing how to use the equipment.
In college, some of my earliest friends were through playing pick-up games of basketball. I would get a wake-up call when the bigger guys walked in and dominated games.
Around summer time, when the frisbees and girls would come out, I didn’t have much to display; shirt stayed on. As I reflected on that thought, I realized how much I was comparing myself to others and overestimated how much others thought about me. When it came down to it, I just want to be healthy. I want to be fit for me; my fitness is mine, and I will find it.
I realized that being skinny, didn’t necessarily mean I was healthy. When it came to sports, I just wanted to put up good competition; the same way I would like a good competition.
The shift in fitness started to transform from a thought of something certain people do, towards a fundamental life enhancing habit. Being fit is for everyone, and it doesn’t have to happen only right before summertime. It’s not easy, and you’ll feel uncomfortable and a lot of pain at times, but the body is built to adapt.
Since it’s been working on keeping my mind fit, I built up some good research skills. So I studied exercises and routines. I went to scout out gyms to learn the layouts; I prepped my mind to be familiar with its new home away from home. There was no resolution, just a personal declaration; this is what I do now.
Instead of focusing on results, which would make led me to workout my eyes more than my body, with all the mirror looks and body checks, I focused on the process. I started small and kept a stable routine to build the habit. The first few months hurt and I felt like quitting every other day. But it was too late now; I already made my declaration. This is not a trail run. Why would I put good health on a 30-day trial? Through sweat, swelling and an increased appetite, I put in the work and built up my body. As a side effect, I also learned more about my mind, through becoming more aware of my body’s sensations and having the discipline to focus and follow the process.
For those searching for their fitness, look early in time, find clues of old fears and motivations. Simplify and demystify your misperceptions. Start small and start soon. Maintain that vehicle that’s taking you on this journey through life.
Also published on Medium.