People see fitness as something you have to work hard for, doing painful things or spending long hours at the gym, avoiding eating things they like and having to eat things they don’t.
It’s been the opposite for me. From my perspective, anyone with those beliefs doesn’t know what they’re talking about. They are confusing satisfying craving with enjoyment, sweating with misery, pleasure with good, and avoiding with depriving.
People describe my diet as healthy. I’ve never avoided eating something I liked, nor eaten something I didn’t like. When I first learn something is unhealthy, I still eat it, but I keep thinking about how someone is trying to profit from hurting me—like from hydrogenated oil, refined sugar, corn syrup, and things like that—and I lose taste for them. They still taste sweet and bring pleasure, but those aspects of the food become less important. Now I look at most desserts with skepticism.
Meanwhile, the more fruits and vegetables I eat, the more I enjoy their flavors, textures, and how they make me feel. They don’t have the pow! of a Dorito, but nor do they make my mouth feel assaulted after eating them.
Net result: my eating overall has more nuance, more sensation, more fullness, more of what I like and want, less regret, less cost, and less of what I don’t like or want. I can only see my diet as better in every way now than when I ate all the pretzels, ice cream, etc I used to.
I have no sense of deprivation. I feel more enjoyment and appreciation.
Likewise with exercise. I used to enjoy watching two or three football games on a Sunday, meaning sitting in front of a TV for a long time. Running fifteen miles creates pain. But I don’t consider expending energy good nor pain bad.
I like activity. Taking an elevator when I could take the stairs doesn’t feel like luxury. It feels lazy.
The more fit I get, the more behaviors and beliefs that create it feel fun, enjoyable, appreciating nature, social, and so on. And I lose touch with the connections, however widespread, between fitness and pain, deprivation, or unpleasantness. I didn’t always feel this way. I’ve eaten a lot of ice cream in my life. I created through attention, focus, and discipline.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees