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Do you Exercise to Look Good or Feel Good?

This past week, I had the pleasure of speaking to an undergraduate class of business students about Sheer Balance.  Being back on campus was fantastic in many ways: the intellectual stimulation, the clean air of Ithaca, the beautiful fall weather, and of course, the youthful atmosphere…it just doesn’t get better.

During my presentation, I became distinctly aware of how different one’s mindset is when one is in school…specifically about health.  I looked around the class and I would venture to guess that a good 80% of the class looked healthy and ‘fit’ (yeah, I know they were 15 years my junior, but that isn’t the point).  Looking back, when I was a Freshman in college, I discovered exercise and its benefits because I was trying to ‘look good’.  I’m not ashamed to admit this.  I’d be lying if I didn’t.  The pressure and desire to look good in your teens and early 20s is enormous.  And so, I made sure I looked my best by eating right and exercising.  At the time, I viewed my resulted good health purely as an added bonus.

Today, in my mid-30s, my perspective is different.  My primary objective for eating well and exercising is to be in good health, with ‘looking good’ as the added bonus.  I’m not sure when this transition occured, but I have to believe that it is part of the ‘settling down’ and life changes quotient: you get married, you have children, you have a job that is demanding, and somehow, ‘looking good’ just isn’t as important as it used to be.  That was when it dawned on me: if you never have the transition in mind-set from looking good to feeling good, then in short, you stop feeling incented to exercise and eat right.

After the class was over, I had a discussion about this with one of the students, who indeed, was in pretty good shape.  He asked what challenges I had with Sheer Balance.  I briefly explained my new found epiphany to him and interestingly enough, he agreed that yes, college students were indeed incented to be healthy to look good.  Further, he agreed that yes, maybe, if you remove the desire to look good, then it might be difficult to entise people to be healthy.

Wow.  Is it possible that we care more about our looks than our health?  If you look good, but don’t feel good, all is a-okay?  And on the other side, if you feel bad but look great, you are a-okay too?

What is your perspective?  Do you exercise for vanity or for health?

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Fitness Tagged with: , , ,