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The Workout and Happiness


Happy New Year—a perennial cliché!  Can anything or anybody make you happy? To paraphrase a well-known line from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “Happiness is not in our stars but in ourselves.”

Happiness is like getting stronger—you can only earn it by doing it. Nobody can make you stronger, and no amount of money can buy it; only doing the work can make it happen. That’s one of the basic laws of nature: You have to put wood in the stove if you want heat.

Many people try to bend or alter those rules, thinking they are somehow exempt. They are doomed to blaming others for what only they are responsible for—themselves. Rationalize equals rational lies?  “I don’t have time to work out.” “The gym membership is too expensive!” “I can’t eat well—it’s too much of a hassle.” Think about this: Can you be happy if you are not strong and healthy?

Taking care of yourself is fundamental to being able to add and enjoy the next layer, the one that life is all about: the people you love. Yes, bodybuilding is a part of the fabric that can enable numerous seemingly unrelated aspects.

Many mature bodybuilders have mentioned to me that they feel the most “alive” after a workout—the feel of the weights, the exhilaration of movement, the pleasure of sweat well earned.  Endorphins are a factor, but the feeling of doing something special opens the door for feeling special. The “pumped” emotions spill over to enhance your relationships and energize your thoughts and creativity.

Despite all we know about proper exercise and nutrition and how they help to prevent disease and increase longevity, the big picture is never discussed by doctors and the popular press. Exercise and nutrition have an impact on everything we do and become. I was at a mall recently, and it is tragic to see what rationalization has wrought—people in their 30s and 40s who are 50, 100 or even 150 pounds overweight with young children in tow. They won’t live long enough to see those children graduate from college. Why aren’t the doctors and popular press telling people the truth—that their lifestyle will lead to a premature death, and that it’s a choice. Too blunt? The truth is, we will never be able to fund the so-called healthcare system without investing in prevention.

We live in a time of unlimited access to information about exercise, nutrition and health, yet life expectancy is becoming shorter for the first time in 100 years. Every decision has a consequence, no matter how small.  I know that IRON MAN magazine readers are “the choir,” but maybe it’s time for us to become evangelists for health, well-being and exercise—all so very important for happiness and living life to the fullest!  IM

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