Let’s face it: The lure of reaching physical perfection is enticing, even for the most highly evolved spiritual practitioner, but perhaps health breeds a bigger agenda than fitting into a size 4: leaving a legacy. There are a handful of health and fitness aficionados, who view exercise as nothing more than a means to an end – a practice to ensure longevity, so they can carry out their life’s work. Consider 84-year-old Joy Johnson featured in the November 2011 issue of Runner’s World. The 72-time marathoner will participate in her 24th straight ING New York City Marathon this month. She maintains her healthy lifestyle by eating right, running about 50 miles a week, and doing up to 150-push-ups a day. “I’m just very lucky and blessed and do what I love Johnson told Runner’s World. “I have to live up to my name.”
Health is a community-wide effort in which one can’t exist without the other. “Throwing off the chains of poor health and reclaiming our full vitality is both our individual right and our collective responsibility,” writes Pilar Gerasimo in her, “A Manifesto for Thriving in a Mixed Up World.” In short, the well-being of our communities does not rest solely on one person; it’s a joint act that will require continual commitment and a re-shifting of priorities– from the pursuit of physical beauty to the pursuit of social justice. Gerasimo also points out that when you change your health for the better, you change the lives of those around you for the better, too.
“Being strong and healthy in an unhealthy culture makes you part of an empowered minority. It gives you freedoms and opportunities that poor health and fitness prohibit. It endows you with the energy, clarity and resiliency to fully enjoy your life, and to make bigger, more meaningful contributions in anything you do,” she writes.
Despite cultural notions, the purpose of diet and exercise isn’t to fit into a pair of skinny jeans or to carve out a washboard midsection. Instead, we are each called to touch greatness in whatever manner it arrives within us. Whether it’s being a strong and healthy mother for your child, advocating for children in your community, or offering a smile to the cashier behind the supermarket counter, we all have a job to do–one that requires vitality, stamina and most importantly, good health. And unlike a pair of perfectly sculpted thighs, what we will have left behind, will remain for generations to come.