The news on September 26, 2014 surprised me. It immediately brought back memories of watching my mom exercise in our living room with Jack LaLanne on TV. Jack was called the “Godfather of Fitness.” As a teenager he discovered the benefits of exercise and healthy living and made a career out of helping others enjoy those same benefits.
Jack had a daily TV show that my mom watched. Even though I was a little boy I still remember Jack dressed in his one-piece jump suit encouraging my mom to do the exercises he was demonstrating. And, my mom did.
As I grew up I lost track of Jack LaLanne although his name would occasionally resurface in headlines. When Jack was 65 he pulled 65 boats across a lake in Japan. At age 70 he supersized that achievement and made it 70 boats while he was handcuffed and shackled.
Jack LaLanne wanted to demonstrate what was possible if you made fitness and healthy eating a part of your everyday life. He became an inspiration for me as I began moving towards fitness in my late 40’s. I wanted to age well…like Jack!
And, then he died.
When I saw that headline on September 26, 2014 I was surprised. Even though, Jack LaLanne was 96, I guess I expected a lifetime investment in fitness and health would have a different outcome. Surprise was quickly replaced by a reminder. You can’t out-fitness death, or even aging. That reminder has stayed with me.
But, lately there’s another aspect of the that September 26, 2014 headline that has become meaningful. And, I was reminded of that right after I finished my 20k One Year Step Challenge.
More often than not, fitness goals are tied to a specific event like a wedding or vacation. The real goal may be to lose weight, not necessarily pursue fitness. The goal is often connected to a date or a number on the scale.
The most effective goals are measurable and date specific. In other words, “I want to lose 20 pounds before the wedding.” You can measure the progress and there is a specific end date. That’s a perfectly stated goal.
My goal was to reach at least 20,000 steps every day for an entire year without a break. The number of steps was measurable on my Fitbit and the end date was August 31, 2019. This goal was both measurable and had a specific end date. Perfect.
It’s not easy to lose weight. It’s not easy to stick with a fitness. This is the power of a specific goal. It can be highly motivating to keep moving forward. But, there’s a downside once these goals have been reached and celebrated.
Ava and I were driving home from our vacation on the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I had just finished my 20k One Year Step Challenge. Two days later I was struggling. We would be in the car for six hours with a short break before attending a wedding that afternoon. That’s a lot of sitting. How was I going to reach 20,000 steps? And, that was the struggle. My big one year goal had been reached. Did I STILL need to hit 20k?
When the scale finally reveals the number you’ve been working towards do you push pause on the diet and fitness? When the wedding pictures have all been taken is it OK to relax a little? When the annual physical is finished do your food choices and physical activity need to be as intentional as they’ve been the past couple months?
Short-term goals are great, but then what?
Jack LaLanne made fitness and nutrition a significant part of his lifestyle. He didn’t pursue fitness so he could have a TV show. The TV show and everything else he did were a result of his commitment to fitness and healthy living. That’s important because it’s easy to set people like Jack on a different level and say he had to do all that stuff for his TV show.
Jack died on September 26, 2014. The cause was pneumonia. Again, a reminder that even a life dedicated to fitness and healthy living won’t last forever. But, it was one of the details of his death I remembered as we were driving home from the Outer Banks.
Jack LaLanne continued his daily fitness routine until the final week of his life. Ponder that reality for a moment. Jack pursued fitness every day until the very end.
And, there it was. My “then what?”
Short term fitness goals, like a 20k One Year Step Challenge are great. But, Jack LaLanne demonstrated where the real fitness finish line is. I needed that reminder.
If you have struggled to find a fitness activity that sticks long enough for you to think long term, I recommend walking. It’s effective, fun, and sustainable.
Start today with the free STEPfit Plan and begin building your fitness momentum.
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