Jan 242023

One definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over yet expecting different results.

Fitness is an area where most people are a bit crazy then. Your body, my body, everyone’s body is a near perfect reflection of what it has physically done, what work it has been forced to do, over the last 1 – 3 years. The human body offers an amazing lesson and reflection of the decisions that you have made in the mid-term past.

Barring some minor differences, dedicated long distance runners tend to look alike, as do every day gung-ho cyclists. So do dedicated hard-core weight lifters. Yoga people mostly look like yoga people and people who eat ultra-restrictive diets usually end up in the same place. One’s body adjusts to its reality over a couple of years times.

Yet, many if not most people “expect” one thing (becoming fit) but often do far less than it would take to achieve it. This gap between reality and expectations fuels much unhappiness. Modern urban society does not tax the body much, and most urbanites look like other city dwellers: somewhat overweight, soft, rounded, and a bit weak, unless they decide to tax their bodies in a substantial direction for the right amount of time (usually measured in a few years, not a few months).

If you want to be happy with yourself, it really helps to set your own expectations with an open-eyed understand of reality.

My personal wake-up call in the land of fitness has to do with calories. The one-size-fits-all FDA guidelines would make one believe that I could lose some weight at 2,000 calories a day but my body disagrees. Being in your 50s changes things it seems, and my metabolism has slowed a whole lot. Through some focused calorie counting and data collection, I now know that my personal steady weight point is at equilibrium at 1,850 – 1900 calories per day. I must consistently stay at or below 1,700 calories to begin to lose weight. The level of activity would have to double from what I do today to impact those calories, an unlikely goal given how little extra time I can find. The one thing that I do not know is what would be my long-term calorie equilibrium point if I managed to drop 8% down into the 180’s. This all of course assumes by current workout pace and effort continues without deviation.

I have a theory that those who are more fit – and also weigh less than average – generally live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. In my mind, an extra ten years of being spry is possible, and is a huge benefit worth a lot of effort and dedication. The trick is to make better daily decisions that are in line with reality and set your own expectations well. Many people clearly do succeed, even if the over-50 “fit” are a minority, overall.

That means all of us can, if we decide and believe in ourselves.

I.M. Optimisman