Writing a fitness manifesto

Maintaining fitness requires significant discipline. Nutrition is a crucial factor in that process. So is proper rest.

I would be inclined to say these words. But lacking sufficient understanding in the scientific basis, I’ll abstain. I tend to rely more on instinctual habits that I have yet to induce into general principles.

Alternatively, I could regurgitate the ideas divulged in countless fitness related publications and interviews. Ideas along the lines of daily calorie consumption in respect to the target body weight, the types of foods to focus on, the types to exclude, the merits of one/two unregulated days per week, and the number of meals to include per day. Ideas in regards to the daily time-range to concentrate all nutrition, the fasting interval before bedtime, and the desired sleeping schedule. Ideas suggestive of the type of training most beneficial and how to effectively distribute it throughout the week.

I could synthesize various strategies in line with the above and include some references to solidify the content. This was my intent 40 minutes ago as I penned the introductory sentences and then hopelessly stared at the proceeding blank space for 20 suspenseful minutes. I could easily produce 1000 words to the respect if so inclined. 1000 words of quality educational content combining existing knowledge with my own 17 previous years of entertaining health and nutrition to varying degree. Perhaps there still lies hope in carrying this publication to that end. And yet, however this unravels, I don’t wish to give a false impression of skepticism or irony in regards to my fitness-related attitude. Indulge me, and don’t read between the sentences. I’ll take it upon myself to provide an overabundance of sentences, at risk of superfluous content, to insure that no meaning will be left to extract.

I would naturally incorporate personal habits that bear some correlation to academic principles to sustain my arguments and appeal to authority. It wouldn’t be difficult as I would simply mention daily 1-2 hours of various exercise, solid uncompromising nutrition consisting of almost exclusively natural elements, and my personal favorite: the total absence of rest or ‘cheat’ days. It might sound glorifying on paper. However, none of this makes me an authority, as I don’t pretend to understand the entire chain from cause to effect. I simply adapted personally effective strategies, but that by no means do I find myself in a position to preach with any conviction.

For me, the well rounded physical regime is not even terribly difficult to carry out, as I cultivated positive nutrition at the age of 18 or 19 at which point the personality had not yet assimilated any permanent habits. I always resented the overemphasis on the genetic element behind a healthy frame, with total disregard for the the daily discipline that takes place… the cause/effect perturbation as I like to call it. What can I say when an achievement gets attributed to some talent, genetic predisposition, or mysticism? Perhaps these sorts of experiences combined with a sense of severe narcissism provoked the strict discipline I maintain.

I don’t find overly relevant what mental reprogramming you employ as long as it contributes to the goal. In fact, perhaps you wouldn’t employ any such mental strategy, but rather leverage pure discipline with certain exceptions dispersed throughout. This works for many, although I’m uncertain for what sustainable time frame. Can you indefinitely maintain a discipline if you’re driven to violate it at the first opportunity? In my case, this hasn’t been effective. Rather, I compensate by means of mental reprogramming to raise my disposition towards the activity to a maximal level and attain natural enjoyment. (I should dedicate a separate publication to the respect.) This may sound controversial, yet it is a bridge I construct to reach my goal.

Narcissistic tendencies play a large role, something I won’t deny. I take for granted the expectation to feel physically fantastic at all times. To the contrary, some aspect requires maintenance or tweaking. I frequently pick the lowest, most exhausting point in the afternoon to undertake exercise, precisely when I would rather follow the path of least resistance, lie down, and take a nap. The heavier the body feels and the more unbalanced as a result of indigestion or dehydration, the more opportune I find the moment to undergo further physical stress. Contrary to common wisdom, the process can remain painful throughout, and the body often feels more intoxicated even after. This may sound challenging, but pales to the military endurance. Soldiers follow a strict regiment even at times of sleep deprivation or lack of nutrition. I prefer to endure at least a small fraction of the military expectations.

The idea of looking or feeling average in presence of total control irritates me. I don’t accept that intellectual and physically exceptional pursuits must mutually exclude each other. Having extensively analyzed the predicament over the years (lacking more mature thoughts), I consider both aspects of equal importance. And with regard to priority management, I probably cannot undertake too many additional major milestones without the whole structure crumbling to ash.

Beyond the obvious, there is a flip side to the obsessive physical regiment. I can typically escape any commitment I wish short of the truly urgent, by simple means of postponing the daily exercise until a point of no return. At that point I’m obliged to follow through in lieu of the previous commitment. I can also transform any anxiety or uncomfortable situation immediately into an opportunity to perform exercise, be it as simple as a long brisk walk.

Speaking of long walks, I find outside spaces highly empowering. In writing this manifesto, I would be tempted even to promote them over indoor settings. However, this would be naive of me as I actively frequented gymnasiums until six months ago. Gymnasiums provide a different experience with own benefits and pitfalls. As with other sustainable habits, I needed to make an indoor gym a likable experience, which I only managed to with the smaller, less commercial spaces. They tend to be cheaper and demand less maintenance to settle into. I particularly enjoyed the raw-iron, worn-out equipment, low-lighting type of surroundings, provoking the warrior attitude rather than a social club environment.

I preferred to make the experience efficient and natural, but no indoor setting could compete with the charm of a well utilized outdoor space. So beyond the ability to exercise outside for free and eliminate locker rooms, towels, and other indoor accessories, what additional benefits does an outdoor experience carry?

I feel closer to nature and to the naturally active lifestyle led by our primal predecessors. The surroundings tend to vary more frequently than those indoors. The outside environment, people, and equipment lend themselves to greater flexibility (and spontaneity) than the indoor counterparts. I occasionally incorporate playground equipment into the workout. Being an active playground participant tends to re-cultivate the inner child. Outdoor environments are easier to combine with a walk. The fresh air feels more conductive to natural exercise. Nature is more inspiring to observe than lifting equipment, although I could flip this argument if I wished.

Finding pull-up areas has been the greatest challenge, but I always managed to improvise on either outside pull-up bars where available, on playgrounds, underneath stair cases, on football goal posts, tree branches, rest area ceiling planks, and any planar or slightly round but symmetrical surfaces comfortable enough to grasp and hang on.

What more wisdom could I inspire? The parameters are many and my results have lacked consistency, although not so much in the visual aspect, but in the internal. There are days when I feel the need to sleep more than normal and experience an energetically unproductive period lasting as long as a whole afternoon, despite the apparently stable and rich nutrition, and despite proper rest. There are days when I simply don’t feel that physically great even in absence of obvious supporting reasons. And such days occur frequently enough, or so I perceive. Then again, there is a certain cognitive bias that tends to place greater emphasis on the negative feedback, making it a challenging task to objectively analyze the results.

Sometime ago I embarked on the ambitious task of documenting everything in order to more accurately carry out this sort of analysis. This involved a daily assessment of certain parameters pertaining to my daily nutrition and activities, along with a classification of how I felt throughout the day and my level of productivity. I then intended to execute a Machine Learning analysis on data accumulated after some considerable time. Then I abandoned this project, and now I can only speculate with regards to cause and effect.

I produced not a manifesto, but a commentary to some anti-manifesto rather. You could possibly question the utility of such a post, and my decision to saturate the digital press with more fitness-related content empty of scientific merit. I offer no justification, other than 1) it entertains me, and 2) in any infrequent attempt to divulge this content, I probably emphasize more reason not to read it.