Fitness over the Long Haul

     I just finished reading a NYTimes article “Why Are Americans So Fascinated With Extreme Fitness” by Heather Havrilesky (Oct. 14, 2014). A number of articles focused on extreme fitness have come out recently in response to the high intensity exercise trend. Most of the columns that I have read (like this one) are not very complementary. To be sure, Cross-Fit and like-minded exercise programs have passionate supporters and detractors alike (read the comments attached to the NYT article if you have any doubt about that statement). However, the goal of fitness and living a healthy life sometimes gets lost in the shuffle as people stake out a position of worship surrounding their workouts. What I would say is this: the strategy that you need to find is one that is sustainable for decades. Adjustments need to be made as the years roll by but that is just an obvious part of the journey. A short burst of extreme exercise holds little value in the long run and if you throw in with an exercise philosophy that pushes you to the wall as a matter of regular routine you won’t be able to keep it up because your body and spirit will rebel. This is not an opinion it is just the reality of being human. The trick is to find the balance. You need to work hard to make progress but if you are seduced by the notion that you must be in extremis at the end of or during every session you will find out the hard way that it will catch up with you. (Insert the dreaded F word here: Failure!) Set the throttle where you have some headroom because if you want to enjoy success over the long haul this is the path that in the end will lead you home. Work hard, work smart and try to enjoy yourself a bit as you go. Don’t forget about that. Enjoyment (or satisfaction if that is more palatable) must be included at some level or the entire effort will end up having no legs at all.