Post No.: 0033
Our physical health is about how our bodies can maintain equilibrium and how we can cope with all the things that life can and will throw at us. So our health is really about how well we can perform – not how we look, our vanity, our visual appearance, or even our weight. So if you’re doing something (or not doing something) and your ability to perform (e.g. walking up a long flight of stairs without panting, running a mile in a good time) suffers then you’re not doing something healthy (e.g. people who are too sedentary aren’t giving their cardiovascular systems a good enough reason to stay strong, people who eat too little aren’t being healthy because they’re not eating enough for the amount of activity they do).
It should also be more motivating to do something for gaining something desirable rather than for losing something undesirable – it’s the nicer direction to look (although loss aversion i.e. the way that e.g. losing $5 feels more bad than gaining $5 feels good, means that trying to avoid losing something desirable is even more motivating than trying to gain something desirable – but this does presume that we already have something desirable that we don’t want to lose). We should ideally measure our health in performance gains and positive factors, not losses like ‘losing weight’. And weight once again tends to focus people on how they look rather than how well they function or even feel (e.g. a lot of fad diets make people feel unhappy, and people can cheat on them by dehydrating themselves and other deceptions like that too, which are not healthy. If we cared about our health rather than our weight then we wouldn’t be tempted by such, often ironically unhealthy, self-deceptions).
There is currently a dispute about whether one can be fat and healthy/fit at the same time or not. Regardless of the answer, what we really care about is being healthy/fit, and that’s about how well one’s body performs rather than matters of vanity. Compliments about the way one looks are nice, but knowing that one can perform strongly should be even more important and valuable (in yourself and if physical attributes are something you look for in a potential mate).
We should be happy about the way we look and weigh, however we look and weigh (and we shouldn’t be so superficial about judging how other people look and weigh too) – if we (or they) are functionally healthy. Should one be happy about the way one looks and weighs, however one looks and weighs, if one cannot physically perform well? If you are fit and can perform well then high chances are that you will look great and be at an appropriate weight too – but looking great and being at an appropriate weight doesn’t necessarily mean that one will be able to perform. There is a reasonable population-wide correlation between health and weight, hence why the genetic instinct to associate the two formed, but they aren’t exactly the same things when it comes down to what we really (should) care about.
Yes, humans will intuitively judge other humans by appearances and vanity due to crude (and thus frequently deceivable) sexual selection instincts – but the Grim Reaper (the arbiter of natural selection) only cares about how well we can perform (metaphorically how well we can outrun him/her/it). (Sexual selection concerns competing for a mate(s) and getting selected by a mate(s) for one’s perceived mate potential, and natural selection concerns whether one actually lives to pass on one’s genes to the next generation (until they’re old enough to do the same) or not. Strategies for selecting mates should ideally accord 1:1 with what will likely be successful for natural selection but they do not because sexual selection, for a significant part, bases its decisions on shortcut instincts that evolved to work well most of the time but does not all of the time (especially in environments that are very different to the environments these instincts largely evolved e.g. these instincts evolved before the invention of cosmetic surgery).) You can fool yourself and other superficial humans with vanity – but you will not fool the Grim Reaper! Woof!
Now there isn’t a guarantee that e.g. not being able to run a marathon will mean you’ll die prematurely or suffer more than if you were able to in this one life of yours – but swimming with heavy boots won’t guarantee you’ll drown but it does seriously increase your chances of drowning, and drowning soon! Well, if you’re strong then you’ll have a better chance of literally or metaphorically ‘not drowning’ whatever life suddenly throws at you, whether it’s because your body can physically cope with unexpected challenges and/or your mind feels confident because you know you’re as fit as can be. And if you argue that you could ‘get run over by a bus tomorrow’ then fitter people actually have a better chance of surviving such an impact or any surgical operation that may follow. Medical science, for the foreseeable meantime, can only help us up to a point.
But it is indeed your own life so you can take your own chances; although if you think purposely putting your own life at greater risk will only affect yourself then maybe have a think about how your family and friends, especially your (future) children, will feel too?
In summary, when talking about health, most people talk about matters of vanity or how much we weigh – but the only issue of health that really matters is how well we perform.
Furrywisepuppy hopes you measure your health via the clock, distances, reps, resistances and the like, rather than via the mirror, selfies or weighing scales. Fluffystealthkitten and Furrywisepuppy practise what is preached.
I’m interested to hear from you regarding if you think this culture can change from being less superficial to being more about what really deeply matters, and what could be done about it if you think it can change, via the Twitter comment button below?