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The Best Version of Yourself

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The alarm clock goes off.  You reach over and throw that stupid, invasive, good for nothing black box crashing out the window where it gets run over by a dump truck, a sand truck and a stampede of wild elephants….  Wait, still dreaming... Beep! Beep! Beep!!  Dammit.

Laying under that toasty comforter, I know that ANYTHING in the entire world would feel better than throwing on a piece of tight gym gear, lacing up your sneakers and moving your body in torturous ways while the sun is still zonked out.

But dem New Years resolutions….. #abs2017

Now, this is where the struggle gets real… Trying to act natural in a gym full of specimens.  He-Man is over there in the corner lifting up the side of the building.  That yoga chick on the mat just folded herself into an origami swan.  Do I really have to buy into the whole scene?  Choke down some sort of green goo with a fake smile plastered on my face after bench pressing my uncles Volkswagen?

Where does fitness fit in for us real people?  The non-masochists? Are we left counting calories in a futile attempt to shed some holiday pounds?  Are we unreasonable if we want to put some damn mayo on our BLT?  Can I eat gluten?  Or dairy?  Oh, wait—ALL meat is a cowspiracy?  Vegetables are full of pesticides?  Doesn’t Kale cure cancer or stupidity or something?

Navigating the fitness world these days seems to be like trying to drive an eighteen wheeler through a field of land mines.

That says nothing about the motivation that is needed.  Like, do these gym rats have their very own Tony Robbins piggy-backing on their shoulders all day?!  Yelling in their ear: “Put that French fry down!!!  Remember your GOOOAAALSS!!!  It’s 3:45 AM WAKE UUUPP!!! YOU ARE A SQUISHY SLUG!!”

No dear, your self-worth isn’t hiding somewhere at the gym.  It seems working out is the newest religion.  A set of sacred rituals to get one step closer to perfection.  So many people you see there are repping, setting and posting for absolution.

Do one more set of painful burpees, choke down the sacramental protein shake because we’re desperate for the recognition it’ll foster.  We work and work and work for a faster time, rounder biceps or thigh gaps.  But all of it fades.  We’ve been sold the idea that the hotter, tighter, fitter we are, the more people will love us and admire us.  Maybe we scored a few more double-takes, bedroom flings, or Facebook likes…..  You may even get an extra year or two out of life, but I’ve never been to a funeral where they said “man, did you see his #abs?”  Not one.  They are going to sit around eating triangle sandwiches (ooooh the carb nightmare) and discuss your character.  Let’s make sure we’re pouring as much time into that as we are staying physically healthy.

I say this, as a firefighter.  I am most definitely not advocating laziness.  This career has let me see fitness as a responsibility.  It has calmed for me, the flurry of the spectacle.

I heard a firefighter say once “Would you want YOU rescuing YOU?”

That hit me in the chest like a Friday afternoon C-train.  It changed my entire perspective on fitness.

It’s not about me.

When hired onto a fire department I am essentially promising the community that I will be ready.  People call us on their worst days, trusting we’ve been diligent and are up for the task.

“Sorry man, didn’t feel like working out today” doesn’t really cut it anymore.

I know that even if I left the emergency services career, this mentality will stay with me.  It’s not about me.  Am I the role model my children need?  Will I be healthy enough, or even alive, to watch my children walk down the aisle?  Can shovel my own walk?  Or my neighbors?

Discipline of your physical body is a conduit for discipline in every other area of your life.  Mental, emotional, spiritual… If we make progress in our bodily discipline, the rest follows easily.  We’ve already forged the mental pathways of consistency.  We think clearer, have more energy, we are able to make better decisions.  If we are at all trying to be the best version of ourselves, or are in positions where others look up to us, physical discipline or lack of it, speaks volumes.

I want every mile I run to remind me to be grateful that I am ABLE to run.  Every lift, and squat to forge discipline.  Every plate of greens represents the fact that I have choice.  A blessing hiding epic responsibility.  I want my workouts to be less about vanity, and instead, proper stewardship of this incredible, working machine called the human body.  Just having one that works is cool.  Why sweat?  Because we responsibly must.