Fit for what?

Many of us feel we’d like to get fit or keep fit. We want to get into better shape physically, and ‘fit’ can also mean good-looking, sexually attractive. So we take out a gym subscription, go running, cycle to work, play football or tennis. But it’s somehow not enough – we go on wanting to be faster, thinner, cooler, more on top of our game.

‘Elaine’, a professionally successful woman in her late 30s, devoted a lot of her free time to sport and keep-fit. Cycling to work one day she was involved in a collision with a bus. Her injuries were minor but the emotional impact was profound: her habitual way of coping had taken a hit. She realised she was living a kind of permanent protest about people not paying her enough attention. Why hadn’t the bus driver looked out for her? Why hadn’t her best friend remembered her birthday?

In therapy it became clear how Elaine’s sense of grievance affected her relationships. She began to take her vulnerability seriously – and others’. Her life gradually became less driven and ordinary pleasures began to count for more.

So what’s the purpose of getting fit? What are we trying to adapt to? Perhaps being in good shape physically does help cope with the stresses of work and pressures of social life; but all-consuming activity can be a distraction from what’s really wrong in our lives. We need to adapt emotionally as well as physically to the world around us.

For reasons of confidentiality the illustration above is based on different individuals.

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Written by David Smart MA, MBACP (Snr Accred.), Member, FPC and BPC

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Written by David Smart MA, MBACP (Snr Accred.), Member, FPC and BPC

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