Fitness Friday: Why ask why?

Andreas Rentz

If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health. -Hippocrates

It's the big question: Why are we here?

Aside from pondering the meaning of life, it's important to ask yourself that from time to time while getting busy at the gym. The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is understanding why you are maintaining it, instead of just how. After all, any idiot can just waltz into the gym and throw some weight around.

Trust me, I know from experience.

I wasn't able to achieve a defined midsection until I was already in my thirties. That was my fault. I wasn't doing the right exercises and I undervalued the benefits of cardiovascular training. But when I did, when I finally had "washboard abs," I couldn't wait to show them off.

My first day at the pool, I tore my shirt off like it was on fire and stood at the edge of the diving board, patiently waiting for any and all incoming accolades.

They never came.

Babes in bikinis didn't funnel beer through their cleavage while ogling my core with gaping maws. Overweight men didn't punch themselves in the nuts for being inferior to me and no, Spuds MacKenzie did not rise from his grave to high-five me as I did a jack-knife into the shallow end.

Nobody gave a shit.

I was crushed. What the hell did I bother doing all those exercises for? It was a sobering experience, actually, because I realized that what the fitness industry was selling me was a far cry from what reality was. And that's my big problem with most of the programs they peddle on television.

Especially those exercise rescue plans.

"Here's a picture of me when I was a fat, worthless piece of shit. But 30 pounds later, I'm finally somebody!"

All that baggage you carry around when you're out of shape will still be there when you're in shape. I know the perception is just the opposite -- you walk into the gym and here are all these people with bodacious bods and it's easy to feel inadequate.

Trust me when I tell you, the gym is comprised of sweat, iron and wanton self-loathing.

Part of the reason is people are chasing something, but they aren't quite sure what it is or why. I've seen muscular guys with 20-inch arms look in the mirror and say "Not enough," just as I've seen girls with exposed rib bones tell me they're "too fat."

Why am I here?

Working out and eating right became manageable when I was able to define its purpose. My purpose is to live a long, healthy life. To not have my kid burdened with a broken down dad or even worse, no dad. Friends of mine will counter with, "Well I can't go to the gym 5-6 days a week like you can."

Nor do you have to.

Like most people, I do enough to reach my goals in three days. The extra two-three are for vanity. You'll never be able to take vanity out of the equation, so you might as well embrace it. But there is a marked difference between chasing and embracing.

If you look in the mirror and think "You're on your way, kid!" You're embracing. If you look in the mirror and think, "I look like shit." You're chasing.

Chasing sucks.

I stopped running on the treadmill because it made me miserable. I asked myself, why am I doing this? I had no intention of becoming a long-distance runner and hopefully I'll never have to outrun hordes of zombies. If I have five other machines to choose from, why not pick one I might actually be able to tolerate enjoy?

The reason I joined a gym in the first place is so that I would have choices.

Again, my goal is to be fit and healthy, and I can do that using different equipment. The StairMaster is brutal, but in a sick, twisted way, I kinda like it. Same with the elliptical. I can get my heart rate up just as high on those machines and not have to dread doing cardio.

That makes me more likely to go to the gym when I'm feeling unmotivated.

Staying committed is easy if you find things in the gym worth committing to. Your diet should be no different. Ask yourself, why am I eating this? I eat steak because I like the weight and density it gives my muscles. I don't eat salad because, well, I'm not a fucking rabbit.

Give me some real veggies like okra or brussel sprouts.

When ViSalus contacted me and asked me if I wanted to get on board, I asked them, "Why would a beast like me drink a ViSalus shake?" Their response was, "Because it tastes good, dipshit."

They weren't kidding.

One of the reasons the ViSalus program is so appealing is because of its flexibility. Once you've figured out "why" you are committing to a specific fitness goal, you can usually find a corresponding kit to supplement it.

I didn't need to lose weight, so the Shape Kit and Transformation Kit weren't really on my radar. I did, however, find myself interested in the Fit Kit for athletic performance and Core Kit for peak conditioning.

That leaves the Balance Kit, which is best for overall wellness.

With my metabolism, the shakes weren't holding me over as long as I would have liked, so I decided to gussy them up a bit when I used them pre or post-workout.

Here is the "official" MMAmania shake:

1 cup crushed ice
4 oz coconut milk
2 scoops ViSalus Sweet Cream shake mix
1 tbsp shredded coconut flakes
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp unsweeteend cocoa powder

Blend until smooth.

Calories: 375
Fat: 14g
Sugar: 13g
Protein: 35

Getting to the gym is easy. Staying there is hard. Figuring out why you go is the key to bridging the gap.

I'd like to hear from some of our regulars. Why did you embark on a fitness lifestyle and more importantly, what are some of the things you've done to sustain it?

Give us a piece of your mind!

Fitness Friday is sponsored by ViSalus. Opinions expressed are solely of the author. For more information on the ViSalus line of products click here.

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