This was a big philosophical question for me when the idea for HeroFit was born into my oversized noggin. Here’s my two cents:
I think a hero can only be defined by someone else. A good friend of mine, a drill sergeant in the Army and retired, once told me a hero is a soldier who didn’t come back. Those most people see as heroes in our country, i.e. military, police, first responders; these folks tend to get squirmy when you call them a hero to their face. For them, it is a job they chose in order to serve their country or community.
For me, growing up, my heroes were in popular culture. Movies, novels, and oh, yeah, comic books. Mythology is not just what we learn from old religions, it’s also what we read and watch in our culture today. In all these stories we read about heroes overcoming great odds, making sacrifices to serve others, and the greater good.
My daughter, who is eight, calls me her hero. Even that makes me squirmy, because it’s a big responsibility. It’s something I have to earn, every day. As a father, I think I have to earn that by teaching her along with her Mommy, who is also her hero (and mine too), about this world, about life, about health, and about right and wrong. It’s also about just being present.
I could never claim to be a hero, but if my daughter thinks I am, then I need to earn it. I realized that we can all be everyday heroes to the people in our lives. When I was diagnosed with Diabetes in 2014 it was not unexpected. I had been steadily gaining weight for awhile, and was warned repeatedly that I was pre-diabetic. I have watched several members of my family struggle with the disease for most of my life. But when my A1c results crossed that threshold, that was it. It took three months of poking myself with a needle to decide that I had a choice to make. Yeah the needle sucked, but the idea of not being able to live out my life with this amazing family, nor to see my daughter go to college, or get married, or see my grandkids was what turned me around.
So how does all this fit in with fitness? That is what a personal trainer is all about, isn’t it? Does dieting and exercise make you a hero? No. But the quest to get stronger, to do things you were never able to do before, to live life fully is pretty damn heroic. Physical strength creates mental strength. The mental benefits of exercise to fight depression and relieve stress and anxiety are well-documented. When we have those conditions, it makes it much harder to be present for our loved ones, both mentally and physically. For our employers and our customers. For our churches, communities, and friends. If you can’t make time to care for yourself, you won’t be very good at taking care of anyone else.
I think being a hero is also about sacrifice. There are things you have to sacrifice to lead a healthy life: junk food, time, money for gym memberships and/or personal training. But in the grand scheme of things, these are small sacrifices that lead to great benefits. In my next post I’ll talk more about the benefits I saw in my journey.