Join AARP today. Get instant access to discounts, programs, services and the information you need to benefit every area of your life.
by Carole Carson, AARP, January 7, 2010
Shortly before turning 60, I decided to change my lifestyle so that I could lose 62 pounds and recover the energy of my youth. Seven years later, I've attained most of the goals I initially set for myself. Yet unless I am careful, focusing on goals can easily undermine my ability to stay fit.
For years, I dieted and exercised just enough to lose pounds and inches. On those rare occasions when I followed through, I quickly resumed my former lifestyle and gave back what had been so preciously earned. I veered from enthusiasm to guilt as my fitness levels improved and then disintegrated.
During the years when I kept trying and failing to become fit, I had the means to achieve my goals, and I had plenty of professional support. Only in retrospect can I see what was missing: I had forgotten how to live. This forgetfulness made me lose touch with my body. The condition of my body—out of shape and imbalanced—was a metaphor for my life.
Ultimately, I came to realize that fitness is not a goal but simply a means to thoroughly enjoying the experience of living. Weight management is not a goal but a means to good health. These means boil down to four daily actions:
Recovering the joy of being alive is what my fitness journey involves. To me, "fitness" means cultivating relationships so that strangers become friends. While I’m out walking, I pick up trash—a simple act that makes me feel good about contributing to the care of my neighborhood. And when family and friends need help, I delight in giving it, knowing that whatever I give will come back to me many times over.
If you're having trouble starting your fitness program, maybe you are making impossible demands on yourself. Asking yourself how you can be more disciplined and how you can deprive yourself to reach your goals are the wrong questions. Instead, ask yourself how you can inject more play and joy into your life.
For most of us, sustainable fitness is not achieved through negative emotions and actions, guilt, or denial. A sense of joy and well-being that comes from being alive in my body inspires me to keep going. What about you?
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Visit the AARP state page for information about events, news and resources near you.
WW will help you build a customized weight loss plan
25% off the first healthy meal delivery of $99+.
Give or get help during the Coronavirus pandemic
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at