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posted by Justin - 2012-12-17 09:21:16

Capability

(This will be repeated later, but if you're ill, disabled, elderly, obviously this doesn't apply. I'm only talking to lazier-than-necessary people.)

I brought this up in a status last week, but I wanted to explore it at greater length today.

I think a lot of the problem with the way we talk about health is we focus way too much on what we "are" (weight, size, etc). It's true that having a certain amount of fat in certain areas is bad for your health (and often correlates with being out of shape; I said correlates, mind you). But, and I'm trying very hard to bite my tongue and not call out certain friends specifically, a lot of people really do think health is all about the scale. It's a crude measurement that can be helpful - especially if you are a boxer or some such - but it's only a starting point and it can be very misleading.

I weigh somewhere between 152-158 pounds. It varies depending on how recently I've eaten, etc. I'm only 5'5. If you just see those numbers together, your mind might create a certain image, but it would probably be inaccurate. Fact is, though, it's a lot easier to say "you will lose x pounds if you stop eating y and z" because, ya know, you really can lose a few pounds a week. I'm not saying you should, but you can see these results on a scale. It's gratifying and it makes you think you're making progress. And if your goal is to lose weight, good on ya, and good luck.

But we need to be talking about capability.

The incomparable Nick Heroux said his minimum goal was to be certain he wouldn't be a burden in a scenario where evacuation was necessary. Would you be able to help people or would you yourself be the one who needs help? Forget zombies: there are enough floods and natural disasters that are realistic scenarios that we absolutely should be (unless we are disabled or elderly, etc, but in this case you can set different goals; the paralympics exists for a reason) physically capable of helping the people around us. We should not be getting winded after one flight of stairs. We should not be exhausted after walking a mile. We should not be unable to pull ourselves up to higher ground. We should be capable.

For me, being healthy is about preventing preventable illness. But it's also about survival. I don't live my life in fear of the apocalypse. That's not a thing. But if someone needs to be pulled out of water, or if YOU fall in the water and need to grab onto something, we shouldn't be endangering ourselves just because we didn't want to get in shape when we should have. When we're young, our bodies are built for fitness. We need to take advantage of our relative youth.

And, I really do think it would help people with some self-esteem issues focus less on their actual weight, too. Achievable benchmarks of capability, starting small and growing larger, are fantastic. You can ask some of the people who trained for the marathon with me. A lot of them are/were much heavier than I am, and they did the damn thing. That's a massive accomplishment, and they shouldn't care one iota about the scale if they're in good enough shape to run mile after mile.

Running is hardly the only way to be capable. Upper body strength is useful as well (even for women; shut up about "I don't wanna bulk up"). But we need to focus on what we can do instead of what we are. We're all capable of so much more than we assume. After all, in 2006, I couldn't even run for a minute straight. And now I can run for hours.

What can you do? And what would you like to be able to do that you can't quite do yet? I'd like to become legit mountain hiker. I want to climb Kilimanjaro like my late godfather. That's the next goal after I get my career and funds settled. What about you?

Capability is where it's at, folks.

Peace and love,
Justin PBG
[end post]

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