When I was growing up, fitness was always defined in a purely physical sense. Being fit simply meant that your physical body was in shape. So, in the early years of my life, I conceptualized fitness as the achievement of ultimate strength, everlasting stamina, and endurance. During my career in professional football, this archaic way of thinking about fitness helped me reach my pinnacle in terms of physical fitness. But on the inside, I was left feeling unfulfilled. I pushed my body to the extreme in my youth. But when I eventually left the NFL, I was forced to confront my identity on a whole different level. I questioned who I was as both an athlete and as an individual. I began to see the importance of mental fitness as well.
Physical fitness, which had defined my existence for so many years, was no longer the priority that it once was. My emotions were in disarray and I fell into a depression that prompted me to work on my psychological and emotional health. Desperate for change, I looked to my mind as a new muscle to cultivate and strengthen. I started reading a variety of self-help books which prompted me to pursue mental fitness and not just physical strength. I strived to gain control of my mind and my thoughts rather than having them control me. On multiple levels, this experience prompted me to redefine how I thought about and pursued fitness.
Fitness can be broken down into three categories: the mind, the body, and the spirit. In this new way of thinking, the body should be seen as the lowest priority, and the spirit should be considered the highest priority. To make this way of thinking a reality, I structure my workouts and my day around both physical and mental fitness. My daily workouts consist of 30 minutes of physical activity to maintain good health, at least 15 minutes of mental stimulation by concentrating on a book without any disruptions, and 5 minutes of mindful meditation.
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