I’d be pretty confident in saying that along with quitting smoking, getting in shape is one of the most common new year’s resolutions people make. I think part of the reason it’s such a common one is that very few people actually follow through with it, which means they end up making the same resolution every year. And when you think about it, it’s kind of understandable. Going to the gym is never a priority. Things like seeing friends and family or making money always have and always will take precedence. Having a beach body for the two week holiday they take once a year isn’t really up there in terms of importance for most people. After all, how many people are really going to see their body anyway? At least that’s probably how people rationalise it to themselves. In truth, I think people would be more likely to reach their fitness goals if they were to realise that in doing so they would gain so much more than just a six pack and/or some half-decent biceps.
I often see transformation pictures on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook of people who have gone from fat to fit or skinny to jacked. They’re almost always accompanied by the inspirational tale of that person’s struggle and many say things like “it’s the best thing I’ve ever done” or “I’m a completely different person now”and they don’t just mean physically. If you actually take the time to read them, they often talk of how their physical achievements have helped them progress as a person. In fact, it seems very few people lose 100lbs of fat without becoming a better person in the process.
In my opinion, this is why going to the gym or making some kind of physical goal should be pretty much first on the list for anybody who wants to make a drastic change, improve as a person overall and raise their aspirations for what they want to acheive in life. It may not be the easiest thing to do in terms of overall effort, but it certainly is the simplest model of effort in vs reward out, and thus teaches basic but valuable lessons that can then be applied to other areas of life. Getting fitter, losing weight or building muscle takes very little thinking beyond some basic research (at least until you reach an advanced level) and absolutely no skill or talent. It is literally as simple as hard work and seeing your own hard work pay dividends in the form of physical progress is such a rewarding experience it makes you want to replicate it in everything you do. But you don’t just learn about work ethic. Improving yourself physically is also a massive confidence booster. Even before any physical improvement occurs, many people are self-conscious in the gym and don’t like training around other people. Learning to overcome this and actually embrace situations in which you feel uncomfortable will stand you in good stead for life in general. So many people live closed, sheltered lives and fail to reach their potential because they avoid things they’re scared of every single day. Imagine if people actively sought out situations they felt uncomfortable in, so they could learn to be confident as a person rather than simply having situational confidence.
Aside from that you learn to motivate yourself to make right decisions. Sometimes taking a day off the gym is the right decision, but you will also feel like doing it a lot when it’s not. If you can identify the right decision consistently and come to terms with the fact that it doesn’t always coincide with what you feel like doing, the resulting pay off will be massive. If we all just did what we felt like doing all the time and didn’t make an effort to balance work with rest and play, pretty soon we’d be broke and unhealthy with very few noteable achievements. In being consistent with a gym programme or sticking to a diet, you can learn to overrule your emotions or inclinations continue with bad habits or satisfy short-term urges and actually do what’s most beneficial to you in the long run. We all feel like sitting eating chocolate and escaping into a film, watching people do exciting things and drawing some kind of positive feeling from that so we don’t have to do it ourselves, but in the end it will only be short-lived. Going against those immediate urges to do what’s easiest or most convenient is the key to getting shit done on a greater scale and achieving something you’re proud of.
So there’s work ethic, confidence, making positive choices and I’m sure there’s a plethora of other reasons why physical improvement gives rise to improvement in other areas, but I didn’t begin writing this intending on listing every single one. In fact, they probably differ from person to person, but the point is embarking on a quest for physical improvement has advantages far beyond the immediate fitness and aesthetic benefits, and that’s why everybody should do it.