I went to grad school in Bloomington, Indiana in 2005. Amazing place, loved my time there and can’t wait to go back. Anyways, two weeks into life there, we had a big event — there was a Chipotle opening in town. More importantly, free burritos on the first day! For a broke-ass grad student, this was unbelievably awesome. So, me and a couple of other guys joined the ginormous line that was there and it took us a good 30 minutes to get to the counter. Got myself a chicken burrito, and damn, was it huge! I hacked it into two — ate one piece for lunch, and saved the other for dinner. Two meals for the price of zero. How about that!?
If you’ve been to the US, you know what I mean about portion sizes. I continued this strategy of splitting my meal into 2 whenever I ate out. Slowly, as I settled into life there, I realized that my dinner half was no longer a half, and steadily decreasing in size. By the end of my first semester, I was comfortably eating the entire burrito.
Dude, what was the point of this story?
Getting to it. Last week, I was talking to this gentleman who wanted some fitness advice. His opening line was
I was pretty active in school and college. Naturally, after college, I stopped all physical activity, and slowly got fat. This was 20 years ago.
Unfortunately, I have heard umpteen versions of that line, from various folks. Slowly and steadily, our ‘natural’, our ‘normal’ is replaced by a new (but not improved) version. Like I went from eating half a burrito to a full one, we slowly go from being active youths to fat asses with minimal physical activity and a ton of ailments. Welcome to the new normal.
We shouldn’t confuse being slowly conditioned to something, whether it is eating twice the amount of food for lunch as was my case, or going from an active person to a couch potato (which I did too), as natural or normal.
Just because a million people do something doesn’t make it not stupid. I am going to refrain from an example here and keep my big mouth shut. Instead, am gonna say that again — just because a million people do something doesn’t mean it is right.
Time to end this. We need a paradigm shift. We need a new new normal. Natural is being active, being healthy, being fit. It is feeling good about yourself. It doesn’t mean 6-pack abs, or looking like a magazine model. It most definitely doesn’t mean you should look like the stereotypical cop in India. The following questions might be a good start.
Do you feel good when you wake up?
Do you feel happy about yourself, about how you look?
Are you able to get through day to day activities with no fuss — climbing stairs, carrying the kid, carrying groceries, putting on the bubble top water can and stuff like that?
I am not saying you should be capable of crazy feats of athletic strength. Don’t confuse this and go register for a marathon or something. But your body is capable of doing a lot of things and doing them easily. A lot of things that you either cannot do today or are struggling with. Simple things like squatting, like getting off the floor without using your hands, like rolling, climbing stairs, playing with your kids. You get the idea.
Wherever you are currently (let’s call it point A), we need to get towards point B. It is just next door. It could simply start with eating a few more veggies everyday, or walking everyday. Anything. It could be even just saying “I want to change”. And from there, we can slowly get to point N (where things are normal, are natural). And after that, borrowing from Coach Dan John here, we can look at point Z.
What am I trying to say?
Point A to point B, and then to point N via points C, D, E… you get the idea. And once you are there, you will want to get to point Z, to what seems like super-human levels. Don’t rush to point Z — that’s just another way to fail.
We need a paradigm shift. We need to recognize that it simply is not natural or normal to lose our physical and mental faculties, and deteriorate to a dysfunctional physical specimen. Welcome to the new new normal, or simply, what the old normal was.