I recently read an article by Mark Manson called “In Defense of Being Average“. (worth a read!)
The premise of the article is that we tend to idolize and make heroes of people (or characters) who embody perfection. We think up heroes like Batman and Superman, and idolize Greek gods and Spartan warriors. We’re always looking up to those that are the best at what they do.
The same is true in fitness. You can tell by the endless amounts of Instagram posts of “Fitspiration” focused on peach booty’s and 6-pack abs. It’s perfect images of perfect body’s in perfect lighting and perfect poses.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to look at for sure, but what does that do for our expectations of OUR fitness?
Mark said it great in terms of what I want to focus on in this article:
“Today, I want to take a detour from our “make more, buy more, fuck more” culture and argue for the merits of mediocrity, of being blasé boring and average.
Not the merits of pursuing mediocrity, mind you — because we all should try to do the best we possibly can — but rather, the merits of accepting mediocrity when we end up there despite our best efforts.”
Think of it like playing basketball. Of course you’re going to idolize players like Michael Jordan, Cobe Bryant and Labron James. However, if you’re reading this it’s likely that you accept that you’ll never be able to perform at their level. You may be good and even great, but you’re not the best.
Does this discourage you? Not really. You’ve accepted it and you can use it as inspiration to push yourself further.
However, I don’t feel the same is true in fitness. From the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with and countless people I’ve talked to, we tend to get discouraged if we can’t be the best.
Yes we have the motivation. Yes we stare at the 21 year old fitness model and want to look exactly the same. Yes we push for a bit to take ourselves further. However, if we don’t reach those results within a couple of months, we get discouraged and quit.
Truth is, fitness has the same type of bell curve as anything in life.
In this image we can see someone like Michael Jordan is in the top 1%. Sticking with basketball we can probably argue that all other NBA players would fit in the top 5%. College players and high level Rec players will fall into the top 20% and the majority of us regulars would fit into the middle 60%.
This same is true in pretty much any other area of life you can think of.
So why not look at this the same way for our fitness?
What’s wrong with accepting that we’ll have a “middle 60” level of fitness?
It doens’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t persue more, it just means that we don’t get so discourage when we don’t lose 20lbs in 1 week.
In terms of health and fitness, the bottom 20% is obese and at a high risk of cardio vascular disease and other health issues. The top 5% are the fitness models you see and double tap on Instagram. The top 20% are athletes of some level constantly training for their sport.
So if you’re an average gym goer that shows up 3-5 days per week on a semi-regular basis, then you’re going to land in the middle 60.
The problem is many people aren’t even that. They get so discouraged that they’re not doing 5 days per week, at high intensity, eating nothing but rabbit food and flaunting their abs any chance they can get that it’s just not worth it.
If I’m not perfect what’s the point?!?!
The point is that the middle 60 (or maybe more specifically the upper 30 of the middle 60) is still a solid level of fitness and health. You’ll look great naked, you’ll feel great inside and you’ll live a longer happier life.
If you can accept this mediocracy then you’ll experience more enjoyment in your pursuit of fitness and even the rest of your life because you’re not stressed about not being the top 5%.
I encourage you to consider the value of having an average fitness and the happiness that comes with it.