The Decision to Take Care of the Body is to Rectify a Fundamental Lack in Life
An interpretation of fitness with a hint of Taoism
Despite the overwhelming array of weight loss pills and potions, despite the cornucopia of exercise equipment for the home user, and despite the fact that new diets bursts onto the scene every other week, we are still a society that is simply too overweight. I do not cast judgment here. Overhauling one’s mindset, environment, social circle, beliefs, or whatever else has to be altered in order to encourage healthy change comes with intense challenges. Then again, all worthwhile changes seem to follow the same guideline.
But here’s the thing: prospering good health if you are without it isn’t just worthwhile, it’s a prerequisite for a full life.
Physical health seems to be a part of our belief system or philosophy that gains traction with us, silly humans. We can ignore it all we like, but that doesn’t mean the boogeyman isn’t under the bed.
The CDC reported in 2017/2018 that 42% of Americans were obese (1). Almost half of us. It’s time to start thinking beyond what we do and consider why we do what we do. Many of us claim to want to be healthy, yet we do nothing to actually create change.
There are many reasons we do not change. These are obstacles on the path to the goals we ourselves claimed we wanted to pursue. I understand why students don’t study for exams in classes they couldn’t care less about - I think. This is different. Why do we not attain the goals that we want to achieve? We allow ourselves not to.
“Maybe next month,” we tell ourselves. “I’ll start on January 1st,” we declare.
The thing is, proper health isn’t a goal to be achieved. It’s something we all had at one point and then lost.
Taoism has a text with old wisdom passed through the years. Please consider the following from the Tao Te Ching:
“The attainment of unity in high antiquity was thus:
The sky attained unity, whereby it became clear;
The earth attained unity, whereby it became stable;
The spirit attained unity, whereby it was quickened;
The valleys attained unity, whereby they were filled;
Leaders and rulers attained unity, whereby they became guides for the world.
Such is the importance of unity that if the sky had no way to be clear, it would probably split;
if the earth had no way to be stable, it would probably erupt;
if the spirit had no way to be quickened, it would probably wear out.
If the valleys had no way to be filled, they would probably dry up;
If leaders and rulers had no way to be noble and high-minded, they would probably stumble” (2)
If I were so bold as to add an additional sentiment for the purpose of connecting ideas, I might suggest:
“The body attained unity, whereby it became free/
If the body had no freedom, it would probably decay”
I am speaking here specifically of physical freedom. Although, it would be interesting to consider other freedoms with this lens - I digress.
Without taking the care to tend to your health, you will never have a full life. You will need to have unity. There will always be a lack. Having the courage to train, sleep, eat, drink, socialize, play, and take care of your health isn’t virtuous. It’s the requirement for healthy existence.
1. Hales CM, Carroll MD, Fryar CD, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity among adults: United States, 2017–2018. NCHS Data Brief, no 360. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2020
2. Tzu, Lao. The Original Tao Te Ching. Unknown. Kindle Edition.