Each of us has a varied assortment of wants, needs, and desires. Sometimes these compliment each other; sometimes they conflict with one another. When they begin to conflict, it makes prioritizing them a very difficult task indeed.
Fitness culture by and large encourages people to make physical fitness, and sculpting the accompanying body type, a top priority. One of the core principles of 99% Fit is that physical fitness should certainly be a priority. Whether it has to be anyone’s first priority is another matter, and a complex issue to unpack. In an essay for Forbes called “Why Are Some People Healthier Than Others?” the healthcare expert John C. Goodman offers the following thought about some of the challenges people encounter when trying to develop healthier habits: “…people face different personal tradeoffs. The acquisition of health requires time, money and other resources. More good health usually means less of something else that people desire.”
A few things to consider
1) Physical activity is important
2) So is having a job
3) And friends
4) And family
5) And hobbies, passions, interests, areas of expertise – the things that make you an interesting, well-rounded person
At various times in your life, anything on this list might have to take priority over something else. Maybe you’re working on a huge, career-changing project at work that requires late nights and early mornings. Or, maybe you have a friend who’s going through a breakup and needs to talk to you a lot to process her feelings and grief. In that case, maybe exercise becomes walking or biking to work, not hitting the gym for an hour five times a week. On the other hand, maybe you decide to check running a marathon off your bucket list. In that case, fitness becomes a huge priority – you dedicate many hours a week to training, and pour funds into shoes and gear. The other parts of your life might have to take a backseat during this time.
Here’s another way to think about it: imagine that your life is a song. All the different components of your day-to-day life represent different parts of the song, but the whole of it still leaves people with a particular impression, an overall feeling about who you fundamentally are. At certain times of your life, physical fitness might be like the drum section – in the background, not super prominent, but setting a consistent rhythm that keeps everything else in sync. Or, it might be like the bass section – rounding out the overall sound, but not dominating everything else. At other times still, physical fitness might actually be the lead singer – the element that’s in the foreground of the song and is it’s most memorable or defining feature.
Just as we all have distinct lives, we’ll all inevitably decide to give different pieces of our lives varying levels of importance. It’s possible to lead a healthy life as long as physical activity appears is somewhere on the list of priorities – but, contrary to what culture might try to tell you, it doesn’t actually have to be at the top.