The other day at work, a co-worker asked me if I worked out. It started a conversation about exercise and why we do what we do.
So why do I lift? What’s my goal?
Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general.
- Mark Rippetoe
There’s usefulness in being strong. I am still trying to find where it’s useful to be weak. Tho I’m sure there are situations, on the whole stronger is better. If nothing else, you can open jars.
Yes, being stronger is going to make it harder to kill me. Hopefully it makes me a less appealing target. Most predators want easy targets, and things that look big and strong generally aren’t going to make for an easy target. It doesn’t totally negate my chances, but if it helps sway things in my favor, great.
Plus having some level of fitness works well for things like oh… running away.
If I have to throw a punch, if force = mass x acceleration, being able to move faster and have more mass behind it means striking with greater force. How is that a bad thing?
But all this training just for something that may or may not happen? Well, it’s good to be prepared if it does happen, but I do like to do things that have a wider applicability. So for instance, when I was out hunting this past weekend, we finished the weekend by hauling about 500# of protein pellets around and putting them into feeders. It involved getting up on a ladder, throwing 50# bags from the ground up to the feeder, emptying them in, and so on. Yes, lots of muscling things around, hoisting and heaving. You need to be strong. You need to be in shape.
But it’s more than this.
Every day I’m getting older, and I’m not 18 any more.
I don’t want to live forever. I know that won’t happen. I also know that I don’t have much say in when or how I will check out of this world. There are people that smoke and drink and chase women until they’re 100 years old, and then there are those that do all the “healthy” things and die at age 27. You don’t know how much life you have, but you do have right now, so you should enjoy the life you have while you have it.
But that doesn’t mean to get reckless, because you could live to be 100. Being reckless now could bring a lot of pain and problems down the road.
Much of my exercise motivation has been because I don’t like not being able to move. I recall when Oldest was an infant and I couldn’t get up off the couch without grunting. I wasn’t fat, I just smoked cigarettes and was way out of shape. I stopped smoking and started exercising because I did NOT want to not be able to roll around with my kids. I started martial arts because I didn’t want to sit all day hunched over a computer. And when martial arts had to go by the wayside, I started lifting again. All because I don’t want to become decrepit.
That’s the thing for me.
I do NOT want to be a burden in my old age.
I do NOT want to struggle to just walk.
I do NOT want to have to rely upon others to get me around and to provide me basic care.
I do NOT want to fall and become crippled because of it.
I do NOT want to have to drag around an oxygen tank, or take tons of medications.
I will admit, some of those little motorized chair things look kinda fun, but I really don’t want to have to rely upon one.
I grant that life might throw me a curveball and something like this happens. I could have a massive stroke due to some congenital issue, and that clamps everything down for me.
I don’t exercise to try to extend my life. I know a lot of people are motivated by a desire to stave off death (tho they don’t admit that’s the reason, it’s the reason). Eat “right”, exercise, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t eat red meat, don’t eat fat, don’t eat well, most anything is apparently bad for you. And in the end, you still die. Death is inevitable for all living things.
What I accept is that I’m going to die, but in the meantime I’m going to ensure I can live my life fully. Hearing about some veteran powerlifters being in their 70′s and squatting 400#… yeah, I’d love to be one of those guys. You know he doesn’t need a walker to get around. You know he doesn’t struggle to sit down and stand up. I want to ensure that while I’m here, I can enjoy being here. That’s my goal.
If along that way maybe I try a powerlifting competition, great. I don’t expect to ever be up there with Andy Bolton or Bill Kazmaier or even Jim Wendler. But that’s not really my goal. I just want to be stronger than most, I just want to be useful… to myself, for myself, while I still have myself.