Michael: I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex.
Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing's more important than sex.
Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?
- The Big Chill
I've written before on the concept of our innate health as a 'trust fund;' we all get a certain amount at birth, some get a little, some a lot, some are born (in effect) into debt...but no matter how much you have, as Mike Tyson and MC Hammer have shown us, there is no amount so large that you can't blow it all, and end up in the hole.
Some people get a lot, a phenomenon known among trainers as 'he worked hard and picked the right parents.' In 'A Fighter's Heart,' author Sam Sheridan describes those who make it in professional boxing as being naturally so far ahead of other men; “...Imagine if almost all your opponents are eight-, nine-, ten-year-old boys, and you're a grown man, that's the kind of physical advantage you have.” I remember Tim, who I worked with at The Magic Pan back in Virginia, could casually pick up his male coworkers over his head and carry them around, I asked him how this came to be, he shrugged and said, “Hey, growing up, I was like SuperKid, I could run through walls and stuff...”
If you naturally run faster, jump higher, and have more strength than your peers, it's natural to maybe not concentrate on improving on what you've got. It's also human to expect, on some level at least, be able to keep riding this train indefinitely .
You may have noticed that those who weren't radiantly good-looking in their earlier years, often have developed a bit more in the personality department because they had to. (And also that every famous model/attractive actress rushes to declare that back in grade school they were a nerd/dork/outcast, trying for some of that it-wasn't-a-gift cred. Hey, sometimes it may be true!)
Nobody's terribly surprised to hear that a child of rich parents, who's been getting a fat allowance all their life, then a BMW at 16, then a cush appartment at 21, when the bottom falls out and the money dries up...has a hard time managing on their own, when they have to, y'know, actually pay their own phone bill. Likewise, those who weren't natural studs on the playground, in my experience, frequently enter the fitness arena in their later years with more focus and intensity.
Thing is, you can pay your phone bill, or go without a phone, there is no third option. Unlike phone bills, nobody can take care of your fitness for you, and believe me, I've tried.*
Doesn't matter which trainer you get – the top guys, who charge so many hundreds of dollars per hour to train celebs and royalty and what not, all have tons of stories of wealthy clients who'd show up late and futz through their hour and spend thousands getting nowhere. You can't fix your physical state with cash alone; keep laying money down on a table, and tell me when your back pain goes away and your resting heart rate goes down.
Paid phone bill vs No Phone = Strength to get through your day, vs Your Life as an Athletic Event that You're Undertrained For. Nobody can go up stairs for you, get out of bed for you...I guess you could hire someone to pick up your TV remote for you, but really?
We all know someone who continues to smoke, or a similar habit, in spite of all the negative evidence. If we're smart, we don't tell them how bad it is for them, just makes 'em mad and obstinate, but we often wonder how they can keep on doing it (and yes, I know quitting smoking is a stone bitch.) There are likewise people who stopped caring about exercise awhile back; if asked (again, not advised), they usually have a short quip that covers it for them, but again, the world will never not have stairs.
For some, fitness came easy, and remained that way. For others, like your humble narrator, we came to fitness late, like in our 20's, and it had to be clawed and fought for, every bit (and my stars, am I ever sick of fitness gurus going “I grew up out of shape, never picked for a team, always last on the field. I was a nothing, a loser. Then one day, on my 12th birthday...”) I actually did try to get into fitness earlier, in both the single digits and in my mid-teens, and through a compendium of bad luck (and, I suspect, covert undermining from the former Soviet Union, who feared my potential powers,) took advice for years from exactly the wrong people, part of why now I have this consuming belly-fire to give the right advice.
Whichever, at a certain age, in the absence of organized and progressive exercise, physical problems (back pain, to start, is frequent, followed by neck/knee issues) will start to appear with greater frequency. I've heard a number of people, usually in their 20's, describe some joint pain or other then say that they'll do something about it when it just gets too big to ignore. Kind of like “One of my car tires is flat, and I think I'm driving on my rim now, but when I can actually see sparks in my rear-view mirror, I'll think of taking it to Gerald's...”
You can deny, but after a certain point, you can't avoid.
*This involved attempted possession of clients' bodies and doing the workout for them, while their astral body waited in the corner, but they kept stepping out of the pentagram, or spilling the chicken blood, so I had to give it up.