It has been said (by me) that there are really only 2 things for sale in the world: survival and sex. The irony is that making survival your goal will also get you sex, but sex will not get you survival (except, perhaps, through your offspring). In fact, sex often gets you the opposite. The reason then that so many choose sex over survival is because sex is something we are biologically programmed for, and health is not.
That is the foundation for the understanding that there is a specific population in the modern world that is at the greatest risk of being supremely stupid about their health. This population can be accurately identified by one simple characteristic: “of reproductive age”.
Due to a quirk of human nature, the reproduction of ourselves – and everything leading up to that – is the unassailable driving force in the lives of those who fall into the category of ages 15 to 50. The only stronger drive than that is an immediate threat to survival itself, and even that is a rare consideration; otherwise it falls into a solid second place.
Rather than an immediate threat, how about a distant threat to survival? Forget about it…. not even on the radar. Humans are really a lot like those weird insects we hear about with their bizarre mating rituals that end up with half of the party dead (usually the male, by the way – go figure).
What is either the only quality that has allowed our population to swell—or is perhaps the failing that will doom our species ultimately—is the fact that we will sacrifice every other quality of life for the sake of appealing sexually to another person for the goal of physical intimacy. That plan used to work really well when life was a lot harder, mortality rates were higher among all ages, and we didn’t encounter that many potential mates even over the course of one’s entire life.
Well, all that has changed. Yet, the drive that was originally designed to overcome those challenges still exists, and still controls most everything we do.
“Once you find yourself outside of the reproductive years, suddenly all of that stuff you used to take so seriously just looks ridiculous. And, a new goal emerges: one that recognizes the value of substance over image.“
In early times, you didn’t get the look of health without the substance of it. Modern people have obviously found a way to dispatch that inconvenient—not to mention difficult—substance part. If you apply those same requirements to modern life, what motivates a whole bunch of unhealthy practices today in the name of health becomes clear. Now the mere appearance of health—with little of the substance—is the dominant theme in modern life. And even that low bar of achievement is seemingly elusive to many.
This choice shows up in many ways, most of them instantly recognizable. Any behaviors that put a majority of the focus on appearance is a familiar and solid clue. Other diversions from health are less familiar: like the pursuit of a career and/or financial gain, and competition of most any kind. Competition is the subconscious test of reproductive desirability. Competition is ONLY about sex. Easy to see why it is so compelling, and just as easy to see why it can be destructive to any other goal. Even people who don’t actually compete want to be a part of a group that does. The bleachers of any semi-serious sporting event is full of those.
Then, eventually, something wonderful happens…. you grow up. Once you find yourself outside of the reproductive years, suddenly all of that stuff you used to take so seriously just looks ridiculous. And, a new goal emerges: one that recognizes the value of substance over image. Unfortunately this happens at about the time that your previous lifestyle has begun to take a toll on you in some very important ways. The hole you have dug is often deep, and clawing your way back to your true potential is sometimes 10 times the job it might have been. The sheer magnitude of the task is simply too much for some, and they resign (I don’t have to tell you what that resignation looks like).
Resignation becomes an even more likely choice with the realization that there will be some aspects of your quality-of-life potential that have been lost forever, no matter how diligent and intelligent you intend to be from this point on. This speaks to the priceless value of instilling health as a goal in people beginning at the age that they are self-directed for even brief periods of time (about age 5).
“Have you noticed that the word “fitness” is used almost exclusively by those of “reproductive years”? Kids don’t use – or need – the word; the over 50 crowd finds little use for the word either.“
As it turns out, the mechanism for a health-focused life is pretty simple. That’s simple as in ‘uncomplicated’, not as in ‘easy’. Achieving the substance of health requires the willingness to manage and maintain the human body through conscious acts of health promotion. In other words, we can no longer remain passive as we once could and hope for the outcome to be health. This site is full of strategies for those that (by virtue of either emotional or chronological maturity) choose to pursue it.
I have said elsewhere and often that I don’t use the word “fitness” to describe anything valuable because there is no technical distinction between fitness and health, so why employ any other word to describe it. To be accurate, that’s how I always felt it should be, but the reality is that—in the minds of people who do use the word “fitness”—there is a reason they have chosen to use another word.
By those that employ it, “fitness” is used to imply health, but there is an obvious alternate goal. “Fitness” wants to be about health and it will happily ride on its coat-tails, but it will eventually defer to the goal of sex when push comes to shove. Have you noticed that the word “fitness” is used almost exclusively by those of “reproductive years”? Kids don’t use – or need – it; the over 50 crowd finds little use for the word either. Outside of the reproductive years, the goal of choice is the substance of health. Reason: health isn’t sexy, fitness is.
“It will become most apparent at a point in a person’s life when the distinction between the word “fitness” and “health” become apparent – and they will wish they had made the more intelligent choice.“
Practically the only problem with any of this is that those of reproductive age have fooled themselves into thinking that the look of health is equal in every way to the substance of health. Sadly, not true. That delusion will cause them to act in ways that are destructive to the substance of health while in pursuit of the image of it. Even those deeply entrenched in athletic competition fall into this trap. I see it all the time in my work. They often won’t discover the lie in this until it is too late to fully recover from the damage this belief has caused. It will become most apparent at a point in a person’s life when the distinction between the word “fitness” and “health” become apparent – and they will wish they had made the more intelligent choice.
The truth is that “fitness”, and its derivative, “competition”, are used – consciously or not, to infer the goal of sex. Use of the word “health” will inevitably reveal the goal of survival. Be aware and be honest about your goal. I will have no argument with anyone who chooses sex over survival, as long as they never pretend they are the same thing, and as long as they are fully aware of the implications of their choice.