There are various reasons that motivate people to get and stay fit. The most common one is to lose weight or fat. And that's okay if that's your reason too; however, being fit is about more than that.
I experienced one of those reasons a few weekends ago when we were hiking and camping by the beautiful Lake Sonoma, near Santa Rosa, California.
Hitting the Road
We were going to go with a bunch of friends, but because we couldn't leave as early as they did, my husband and I were going to meet up with them at the campsite.
We already knew that it was going to be a little bit of walk from the parking lot to the camp site. The lady at the visitor center told us that the hike will be pretty steep and encouraged us to bring as few things as possible with us.
Well, we thought that's one of those cases where people warn you for “extremely strenuous walk”, “steep climbs” and “insanely difficult terrains”, but that usually turn out to be fairly easy walks that you can do with no problem, wearing slippers and having a little bit of water with you. So we weren't too concerned when we parked our car and pulled out all the things (too many, as it came out pretty soon!) and food we thought we need for one night of camping.
It Was Tough
However, in about five minutes after we started walking we realized that the lady really knew what se was talking about. This hike was a serious one! It would have been okay hadn't we had four heavy bags, a tent, sleeping bags, extra shoes, lots of food and of course, a few bottles of wine with us.
Minute after minute, the hills seemed to get steeper, and even though we were mostly walking downhill, it didn't make anything easier. It was very steep. The walk from parking lot to the camp site was going to be just over a mile long, which, you wouldn't think is that much of a distance, but I can now tell that it was probably one of the most difficult miles I've ever walked.
On top of everything, we got lost, making our what we thought was a “little walk at the park” even longer and harder.
It was hot outside, we were sweating like after doing the craziest HIIT workout, we were lost, tired and really didn't want to talk anymore.
Where the heck were we?
After a full hour of walking and climbing while carrying all our heavy bags, we were lost, sweaty, dirty and tired. There was no phone coverage so we couldn't call our friends and ask for more directions either.
We had an idea where we might have taken the wrong turn, so the only thing we could do was to go back and see if that was the right one. We decided that I go and check out the other turn and see if that takes us to the right place, and my husband stays in place with all our heavy stuff (and a broken shoe–of course, that had to happen too) and waits for me to come back.
After about 20 minutes of walking and some kind of semi-jogging because I wanted to get there as soon as possible, I was able to find our friends. Now, I had to go back to pick up my husband and all our stuff and do all that one more time…
Being Fit Matters
In situations like this, I'm extremely grateful for my fitness. Had we not been in shape, had we not lifted weights, had we not done any conditioning, had we not being used to run, walk and ride my bike, all that would have been so much harder.
I really don't know how we would've managed to do this crazy hike in that heat. We wouldn't have been able to do this if I hadn't been consistent with exercising. Situations like this prove that fitness is not about the looks, fat percentage or perfect six pack. It's about being strong, which allows you to find your way out from difficult situations, which in turn, make you stronger physically and mentally.
Build the Strength
This story isn't about me at all. It's to show how being fit can truly make a difference in how you can handle crazy situations and physically and mentally tough challenges.
In moments like this, you're really grateful for being healthy and fit, for being able to do keep going even if you're tired to death. There are moments where no one can take care of you, you're on your own. We still had to carry our bags and find our way to that camp site. That was the only option, nobody was going to do it for us, nobody could've picked us up.
Sure, people who are not fit probably won't even go on hikes like this, so they may not end up in a situation like this. But at the same time, they're missing out. Missing out on awesome nature, great time with friends and family, making connections and experiencing and exploring things around them.
It seems that the reason number one why people watch their diet and exercise is to lose weight get thin. I don't think this goal is necessarily wrong. There are people who definitely need to lose some weight to improve their health. But obsessing about every calorie, pinching your thighs and putting yourself down with a bit of cellulite, telling s*** to yourself when looking in the mirror because you don't look the way someone else you admire is not what fitness is truly about.
You can see the benefits of being strong and fit everywhere. My client found that when she was on a ski trip with bunch of friends who are usually better and stronger skiers than her, after a year of personal training, she had gained so much more strength and endurance that while others were getting tired, she could still keep going. For the first time, she felt really strong! And that realization also boosted her confidence, making her stronger also inside.
She has also gotten rid of nagging knee pain she used to have for years, which is another reason why she was able to take this ski trip at first place. In the earlier years, she was always forced to slow down and take a few days off when others were skiing, but this time, she was able to keep up with others with no problem.
That's a perfect example of how being strong and fit improves our quality of life, isn't it?
People have different understandings what being fit means. For too many, fitness is defined by pounds, kilos, dress sizes, consumed and burned calories.. but those numbers don't help you if you're in a crazy situation where you need some real mental and physical strength.
Question: Why Being Fit Matters to You?