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What did a year under wraps teach you? and what are you going to do differently as a result?

Let's forget Fear of Missing Out. We all missed out last year in one way or another and way too damned many people missed out on the rest of their lives. Those of us who masked, hid out, got vaccinated, all the above, and are living on, might have learned something. Or not. That remains to be seen.

A whole bunch of us have been writing lately about what it's like to come out of quarantine, even as the world continues to suffer more infections, heaving in and out of sanity, and  the desperate need to find some kind of rhythm causes more than a few folks to do genuinely stupid things.

But then, we all do that once in a while, and the combination of Covid and quarantine has shown us the colors of all kinds of institutions (white, kindly) as well as their intentions, who is protected and who's not, who is valued and who's not. As in the poor, the disenfranchised, BIPOC, I could go on. If you've been watching the news, you know. You may not care much, but you certainly see it.

I got a comment this morning from Deepti Kapoor, who is a Medium reader. I have lightly edited what she said, but wanted to share it because I think she speaks for so many of us.

I am struggling with finding the right workout regime and food habits for myself right now...
Now I will revisit the goal chart and aim for more life fulfilling and long lasting goals than just a number on weighing scale and a dress fitting. Maybe that is why I could never succeed at this for so long.
Clear and realistic personal fitness goals, building habits and control will be my key take away from this.
I have realised during this pandemic how vulnerable we have made our bodies through the years. Ignoring fitness and health for job, money, careers, chores and what not at the cost of life itself. (author bolded)

Deepti was responding to a piece I wrote about weight loss, wherein I was homing in, as I like to do in my fitness articles, that a dress size or a bicep circumference aren't in and of themselves any measure of fitness.

Fit is fit. No number can convey the kind of health we're in but a few, and those include, but are not limited to, heart rate, blood pressure, VO2 max, blood oxygenation levels, and how many pushups you can do.

Yeah, that last one. As a pushup aficionado, you will forgive my enthusiasm. However, there's this article about firefighters, the lowly pushup and what a pushup can say about your overall fitness. From that article:

Here’s the test: If you can do at least 40 push-ups per minute while maintaining a regular rhythm, without stopping, then these scientists suggest your risk for heart disease is about 96 percent lower than those who can only do 10 in that time period.

This is what I mean by fit. Fit isn't a number on a scale. Fit isn't a waist or hip measurement. As Deepti says above, fit isn't a dress size.

I love her comment:

Maybe that is why I could never succeed at this for so long.

In the ultimate measurement of life quality, fit has nothing to do with external appearances, and everything to do with whether or not we are able to do what we love. Or, kindly, get up and move around the room and locate your socks, for that matter, which people seem to have difficulty doing at earlier ages, which is terrifying.

That's why I focus on functional fitness rather than just body measurements. Those are misleading as hell, as far too many of us are incredibly ill even when our physical measurements are what we hope them to be, based on some ridiculous, arbitrary measurement given us by someone with money to make off our misery.

Sure, I'd love to keep my butt at 36" or lower. But the expansion of my rear usually has a lot more to do with too much sitting, which most certainly did happen. To that, for the fun of it, I took a measurement last night and I am already back down a half inch. I've been at the gym, running hills, and tightening those muscles. But kindly, and here's the point: the number doesn't speak to how well I can run or hike or ride. My muscle tone and strength do. And even if I was ten inches bigger, as long as I can still hike and bike and ride and run, what does it matter if I am fit, and having fun?

Such arbitrary standards around what constitutes beauty kill us off, from steroid use to eating disorders, starvation masked as fasting and all the potions and chemicals we gorge on to be gorgeous.

There's nothing pretty about it whatsoever.

There's nothing pretty or handsome or powerful about being so compulsive about food, calories, exercise, body weight, relative fatness or whatever the fuck we're obsessed with that we are foul company, can't eat a meal out without sending a waiter back fifteen times because of some offense by the chef (HE USED CARDAMOM SEED????).

The grotesque need to be special outweighs the delight in just being normal.

I've done it. Want to clear a room? Run your mouth about your body your body your body your body your body. Yak endlessly about your exercise program and your trainer and your Pilates and the two almonds you had for lunch. Bore the bejesus out of everyone by complaining about the two ounces you gained from a teaspoon of salad dressing.

Back when the pandemic started, I made the tactical error of speaking to having a pretty good immune system, and that I might have a good shot at survival. I got castigated by a reader who willfully misunderstood my points. As it turns out I was right. Those of us for whom poor habits, dietary compulsions, extreme and disordered eating, high-stress lifestyles and all the rest have made us "vulnerable" as Deepti points out, above, did indeed pay a high price. The term co-morbitities became everyday language for many of us.

Kindly, a great great many of those people did NOT end up there by choice, but by virtue of their skin color and their low-wage but essential worker status. Please don't cut my head off, I get this and have penned about it plenty. That is a different article and others have done a better job than I can with it because they live it.

However. To those of us with options. We have opted to take lousy care of ourselves in the name of the external while making the internal suffer. We waste far too much of our lives worrying about what doesn't matter in the long run-which include fleeting youth and beauty-while ruining our health in the short.

So what now? Did a year under the weighted blanket of quarantine give you any insight? Did you change how you saw how you spent your time and dime? Or are you just as obsessed now, if not more so, with the shape you're in and the pants you can't zip up?

I survived disordered eating and a whole lot more. Worse, in fact. I am damned fortunate to be alive, but what I've done in the last decade has taken my overall fitness to a whole new level. A pound or five can come and go and I don't care. I gained a slew under Covid, dumped all and then some, and enough came back for me to be healthy. Fit. What I care about is being fit for life.

What will you do to renew your commitment to yourself after this past year? What gifts have you gotten out of a year looking inward?

Is it time for you to think differently about your health, your overall welfare, and live your life in full, not constantly attached to a number?

A few hours ago I had a laugh-filled, lengthy talk with a 70ish friend who, like me, is a multi-sport athlete. The most he drinks is a single beer, he’s in bed by nine, and like me, our biggest complaints are joints that are wearing out after a lifetime of hard use. We are active, happy, engaged, aging, and very much in life. At this point, and with any luck you’ll get there, too, you forget about the body beautiful bullshit and concentrate a great deal more on functional fitness. My friend survived a very serious health issue in January. His doctor said that had he not been as athletic as he was, he’d be pushing up daisies.

As it is, like me, he’s still doing pushups.

Our biggest complaint about quarantine was closed gyms. Those are the folks I hang with. He recently ended several connections with men his age who, after he hadn’t seen them in fifty years, were still snorting coke and guzzling booze into their seventies.

Which says something about the company you keep. He and I trade exercise routines, jokes and stupid old military stories. We laugh and celebrate Life While Grey. If you’re surrounded by folks utterly consumed by what they consume, how they look and if these jeans make them look fat, or who are so obsessed with themselves that they suck all the air out of the room, sounds like your self care program isn’t the only thing that needs an overhaul.

But that’s just me.