Athletic Heretic

I’m going to be hit in the head with a pocketbook or other big object for telling others that I value having a fit mind in a strong body.

Yet research indicates that exercise improves cognitive functioning as a person gets older. I’m living proof that getting mentally tough has allowed me to defend myself against hard times when life comes at me with hard punches.

Often, I was the only one in my corner when the punches came fast and furious. Yet ironically I don’t expect that anyone else should be able to take the punches and rebound quickly on their own.

I couldn’t be critical of any other person if they didn’t achieve a better recovery or create a better life or were not able to do other things like those of us who have. That’s why I’ve dubbed this heretic: it goes against the commonplace myth that people who are successful often take down others for not being able to succeed.

True sportspersonship involves fair play and inviting everyone to compete. Just by striving to achieve a goal you’re a winner even if you don’t achieve what you set out to. It is the trying not the outcome that counts in the end.

Trying can be as simple as getting out of bed on some days. It can be as simple as giving yourself a pat on the back when it’s hard to acknowledge your efforts.

Today I did the routine at the gym. I did a TK pulldown with 85 pounds for 3 sets of 6 reps.

My greatest dream would be to convince others to create an ongoing, consistent fitness routine. I don’t like to call this “exercise.” I like to call this a fitness routine because fitness is forever: it has lasting impact on your mental and physical health throughout your life.

I firmly believe that fitness is the bullet train to success for individuals diagnosed with mental illness. The point is not always to lose weight. The point is to gain muscle and to feel good. Muscle burns fat at a greater rate. So you can drop one pant size even though the number on the scale hasn’t budged.

Food for thought as it’s National Sports and Physical Fitness Month.

Now if you’ll excuse me I hear a kettlebell ringing.

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Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She owns a resume writing and career help business. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and a fitness buff.

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