Sitting and standing

When you have close relatives who are male and a lot older, you might come to question the point of sticking to certain aspects of life when they are no longer working as they did. Ok, I’ll cut to the chase: I’m talking about peeing standing up. 

I was thinking about why a relative who is experiencing issues while peeing ought to sit to pee and then realized that he can’t. Sitting (or rather, standing up after sitting) has become serious exertion. Just in case you’re wondering what the hell this has to do with personal training, rest easy – I’m about to launch into that, in my usual fashion.

In our society, we really tend to focus on exercise as rituals to achieve weight loss, weight maintenance, or muscle growth, not around maintaining simple things in life that give us autonomy and confidence, like walking up a flight of stairs unaided, or standing up from a chair or toilet seat without help. This is a huge shame. A large part of it – I think – is that maintaining strength, flexibility, and balance doesn’t easily conform to the marketing messaging that’s central to talking about exercise and health. We focus on appearance, specifically weight and firmness of flesh, and ignore most of the rest. This is reinforced in every aspect of our daily lives, from social media to traditional media, to our doctors’ treatment of us.

But here’s the simple, unsexy, won’t-make-me-rich secret of life: moving freely, with as little pain and restriction as possible, is the main goal. Nothing else matters as much. Not your bicep circumference, for sure. Exercise is not about losing weight. Exercise is about enjoying life. If enjoying life for you includes getting stronger, cool! The bigger biceps you seek will show up. Weight loss is not why we exercise. That’s contrary to your survival as an organism on this planet. If you easily lost weight from movement, you would be in a constant state of danger of starvation. We are the opposite of that – we use food with amazing efficiency, so we can survive rough times.

Maybe that’s why we can’t understand our own bodies – we don’t really understand using resources efficiently. We chase after things greedily, and celebrate individuals who live lives of excess. The thing is, our bodies will continue to work this way if we understand them or not.

Forget your weight. Work on movement, whatever your level of able-ness allows you right now, and see if you can get even better at movement, and balance, and a little more strength. Praise yourself for caring about yourself. Be grateful for what you have, and every week, try and move a little more.

I’ll finish with this: in contrast to the relative I described at the start of this post, I’ll talk about my mother, who I have coached since the pandemic began. We were in Target yesterday, shopping for a bigger kettlebell. If you’ve never seen an 81-year old hoisting a 30-pound kettlebell around like it’s a….can’t think of a metaphor…like it’s a much smaller kettlebell, you might not understand how changeable the human body is if you treat it with kindness. It’s awesome. Being able to pick up 30 pounds easily in my 80s is now my personal goal. Will it be yours?