The Truth About Staying in Shape

There is one and only one fact about staying in shape. That fact is, there is NO SHORTCUT! I hate to be the bearer of bad news but staying in shape is about eating well, exercise and will power. You can’t eat whatever you want and drink whatever you want and stay in shape. And I’m not just talking about staying thin. Some people have a faster metabolism. But just because you’re skinny, doesn’t mean you’re fit.

As a 6th degree black belt in Niseido Jujitsu, I tell my youngest students that their lifelong journey on health, wellness and fitness, starts now. Fitness for me, started at ten, when I started running. I competed in cross country and track, through high school and college. Almost no one, despite what you may read, is out of shape their entire lives and then at 56, turns it all around. Yes there will be that one person who does it because perhaps an “exercise guru” sees $$$, or the person who has a heart attack and basically has no choice. People, when given a new lease on life will sometimes turn things around. But more often we see the person who loses weight, gets in shape and then 5 months later looks the same as before their “amazing transformation.”

The reason for that, is being in shape is about lifestyle. It’s not about fad diets and fad exercise machines that don’t work and stay tucked under the bed until the poor kids have to clean up the house when the person dies. It’s not about denying oneself guilty food pleasures. It’s about building in those guilty pleasures into your lifestyle so that your lifestyle and diet is balanced.

Most people look at ice cream or pecan pie or chocolate moose and see it as an adversary; a temptation to be fought. But just as quickly, the mind says, “no biggie, I’ll just eat this tonight and tomorrow I’ll go on a diet.” The rationalization and desire for that guilty pleasure, often wins, over logic and common sense. The side that says, “if I eat that, it’s 1,000 calories and 40 grams of fat that won’t be easily gotten rid of.” But if the guilty pleasure were built into our way of life and we could rid ourselves of the guilt, dieting would be a thing of the past. I will write more about this in a future post.

I’ve written about diet briefly but diet, or lifestyle as I prefer to call it, is far easier with an exercise regimen. In fact the two go hand-in-hand. Exercise for a lot of people is a bad word. Let’s face it, after a long day at the office or wherever one spends their day, it’s often difficult to get motivated. All you really feel like doing is having a drink, dinner, sitting on the couch and watching Netflix. Understood and I totally get it. The keys here are prioritization and finding an activity you love and then sticking with it. For me, that was Niseido Jujitsu. Although I worked out with weights for many years, I never enjoyed weightlifting. But there was a motivation; to look good, or what I considered good. But I still hated it.

When I started training in the Martial Arts with my son almost 30-years ago, It was perfect for two reasons. First, it was an activity that I could share with my son that didn’t involve a parachute, or silly songs. And Second, I fell in love with Judo and self defense. I have been a boxing fan since I was young and was always interested in sparring or Kumite. It checked off the boxes of what I needed for motivations; my son(s), and an activity we both/all loved and shared after our youngest son started training. I believe every child, both male and female should study a Martial Art. It teaches confidence, self control and ultimately self esteem. Not too mention the fact, it’s a calming feeling when you know that you can defend yourself against someone with bad intentions. We don’t fight, we defend.

Diet and exercise are not about diets and exercise fads. Diet and exercise are about good healthy eating with the occasional decadent desert, along with whatever exercise motivates you. If you’re not motivated by the activity you choose, you won’t stay with it. I can remember sitting outside my dojo, the Bay Ridge Dojo in Brooklyn, NY and psyching myself up to go in and train with all of the incredible and quite frankly accomplished, Martial Artists on the mat. It was humbling but I couldn’t get enough. All these years later, as a 6th Dan, Profoessor, Shihan, I understand the importance of finding something you love, that motivates you, (something I still share with my sons), in order to live your life, as long as that might be, in fitness and in good health.

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