In the Moment
When I first started acting in the mid 1980s, I worked with an acting coach by the name of Darryl Hickman. Darryl introduced me to an acting technique and life philosophy he called "Being in the Moment." He believed that to be a good actor, you needed to stop acting or pretending, and start listening. The words you'd hear from another actor had to be felt on a deep, emotional level. Their effect on the actor needed to be real, not pretended. He'd say that poorly trained actors rehearse scenes with preconceived attitudes and/or fake emotions. If the stage direction in a script says a wife and husband are yelling, it doesn't mean the actors needed to think and act angrily. His method taught actors to learn their lines and let things happen organically. He believed good acting happened when two or more people in a scene reacted to the events around them, as opposed to acting with some kind of a preconceived interpretation of a script. This was a very scary undertaking because it forced actors to trust a process that constantly left them open and vulnerable.
I tell you this because far too often I see people in the "real world" try to present themselves in a light they think others want to see them in. We've found a way to protect ourselves by putting on an act. Many of us aren't real in the real world. We're acting for others. The second we wake, we start writing the script, and act our way right up to the point before we fall asleep. It's because we're afraid to "live in the moment." Living in the moment sometimes means appearing imperfect and vulnerable. We think we're better off if we present ourselves as busy, smart, important, brash, tough, or cool. Most often, this kind of showmanship doesn't allow us to really be us. The crazy thing is that most people aren't even aware they're doing it. Boasting, bragging, excuses, and little white lies are all part of the act. We get so used to acting this way it feels normal. It's a way of protecting our fragile egos because we're afraid to appear human. It's only in the quiet times alone that this acting routine we present to the world feels empty and wrong.
What does any of this have to do with health and fitness? Everything! Being, living, and working out in the moment allow you to release the ego and the act, so you can react and enjoy the reality of the moment. My beach workout today is a perfect example of letting go of the act (loaded with expectations) and allowing my body to listen. It turned out that my main job today was to show up and pay attention, moment to moment. Were my reps down today? Yes. Was my form less than par? Yes. Was my range of motion compromised due to the cold and damp weather? Yes. Was my strength diminished from the week before? Indeed. Did the workout, the way it played out, deter me? No! Did it mess with my ego at first? A little. C'est la vie. It is, so therefore I accept it. Accepting each moment as it's happening makes it easier to come back another day, and coming back another day is the most important part of fitness.
How you act (or don't act) through the process of getting fit is equally important. There's a fine line between a humble person who works hard and is proud of his or her results and someone else who shouts from the rooftops pleading for others to notice him or her. This "look at me" routine is part of the ego-fest that can jeopardize your long-term health and fitness, because it's based more on your need to be seen and less on your desire to be healthy. Turn off the act; be in the moment; listen to what's really happening; stop looking for approval; and believe that your own health, fitness, and quality of life are far more important than the dog and pony show of scales, tape measures, "after" photos, and how you want to be perceived by others who could care less.