By: Javier Tuel, Certified Personal Trainer
E for Effort
The word effort is a word these days seems to be ignored. But, it is a word that can change how we feel about ourselves and the perception of those around us. The dictionary definition of effort is “a vigorous or determined attempt.” After reading that definition, it seems so simple- all you have to do is attempt something in order to put effort into achieving it. That something can be a career, relationships, self-care, health, fitness, or anything else that you want to achieve. In today’s society, I wonder if the word effort has been replaced with the word expectation. Let’s look at the health and fitness industry. Over 70 percent of the U.S. is considered overweight or obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). This has led to finding the easy way out, the expectation that I should just get what I want instead of putting time and effort into working towards what I want. Easy alternatives, such as fad diets, pills, surgeries, or justifying “this is just my health” becomes the norm and the expectation. We avoid eating healthy, working out, and positive thinking because those actions take effort and sometimes we feel like we can no longer give the effort required.
I want to share a conversation I had with a client about her goals and achieving them. After discussing a few of her goals, she started talking about having to use a scooter when she grocery shops. We then started to discuss her handicap sticker, wheelchair she had bought for herself, and other concerns that she had. In this discussion, I asked her one question: How do you think people perceive you? She replied that she felt people looked at her like she was fat and lazy. Unfortunately, this answer did not surprise me, but it did hurt me. What hurt me the most was knowing how my client felt about herself and how she felt about how others saw her. My client continued to work out with me- putting in the time and effort needed. Two months later, she was able to walk through the grocery store without using a scooter- even parking farther away so she had to walk farther. Her confidence level in the gym increased as well. My client now sees the effort she is putting in towards achieving her goals. She has changed how she sees herself, believes in herself, and changed how she thinks others see her. Her perception has changed. By putting in some effort instead of expecting the results, she is on the journey to actually achieve her goals.
I think in society today, we do not understand what it means to put effort into ourselves, how important it is, and the detrimental consequences that occur if we do not. A lack of effort can lead down a road that impacts so much more. I want to give you an example from an industry that is vital the United States and the economy: the trucking industry. The average lifespan of an adult in the United States is 78 years (Find a Trucking Job, n.d.). The average age of a truck driver is 61 years (Find a Trucking Job, n.d.). That is a 17-year difference. There are many variables that make the life of a truck driver difficult- some factors that are modifiable, others that are not. Once this information was shared, the real questions came out. Is each driver willing to put in the effort to avoid this outcome? Is the industry as a whole willing to put in the effort to reverse this number? How can each individual trucker and the industry become healthier if a little effort is shown by each driver and the industry as a whole? If a little effort was put towards a healthier lifestyle, fewer medical expenses could be incurred by each driver, leading to financial benefit for trucking companies and each individual driver. The benefits would also trickle into each trucker’s family life as well. From more time spent with loved ones, to fewer medical bills, to increased productive years, improving the health and life expectancy would benefit more than just each individual trucker and the trucking industry. If each truck driver put effort towards making healthier choices it would also have the potential to positively impact the health of his or her family as well. That effort could change the whole dynamic- making each driver’s home healthier. The trucking industry has taken steps toward improving the health of the industry.
Steps have been taken towards improving the individual health of each driver and the importance of driving healthy, but not much has been done to educate the owners of the trucking companies. Several studies have highlighted that drivers’ poor health puts them at risk for poor driving to performance to other health issues such as heart disease, back pain, and diabetes (University of Utah Health Sciences, 2017). Putting just a small amount of effort towards educating owners as well as individual truck drivers will go along way in improving the health of the industry. This is just an example from one industry. This problem is mirrored in industries throughout the United States as well.
In a more general view, 71.6 percent of adults in the United States are considered overweight or obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). This staggering statistic leads me to wonder if we truly understand the importance of putting effort towards our health and fitness. How much do we really value ourselves? How much do we value those that we love? Our health does not just affect us. It affects those around us as well- most importantly, it impacts our vulnerable children. Researchers have found that if a child has one parent who is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that the child will be obese as well (University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital, 2018). If both parents are obese, that child has an 80 percent chance of being obese (University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital, 2018). Before these children even have the opportunity to live, their lives are negatively impacted and cut short by the choices of the adults in their lives.
I do not like to use statistics to scare you, but without them, it is hard to see the problem and it is difficult to realize the importance of putting effort into you. Your health and wellness not only affects you, but it also affects your community, your job, your friends, your family, and your children. In society today, it is easy to turn the other cheek and hope that someone else will step up and start the accountability process so that the impact of a lack of effort can be fully seen. This cannot be the case any longer though Today it is our turn to step up and start putting the required effort forward to live happy, healthy, fulfilled lives. Join me as I start to live intentionally and put effort into my life. Together, we can be the start of the change.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Obesity and Overweight. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm
Find a trucking job. (n.d.) Average Life Expectancy for Professional Drivers. Retrieved from http://www.findatruckingjob.com/trucking-life/driver-life-expectancy
University of Utah Health Sciences. (2017). "How safe is that driver next to you? A trucker's poor health could increase crash risk." ScienceDaily. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170117083849.htm
University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital. (2018). Obesity. Retrieved from https://www.ucsfbenioffchildrens.org/conditions/obesity/