"Something I always say....You're no longer living, you're just kind of existing in the world. And everything was always about getting back home." - John Glaude, @obesetobeast
That statement comes from John Glaude, a young man in his mid 20's who lost half his bodyweight in just a few years. Though regarding a state he had personally reached with obesity, this statement presents a question that I believe many people should ask:
Are you living, or are you merely existing? Obviously, your answer will determine what you define living to be, but the answer for many may be a tough pill to swallow.
Personally, I think living can be highly centered on your contribution to society and how you take part in what the world has to offer. I think that everyone has something unique to offer the world, whether it's the ability to talk, listen, or even walk, you've got something to offer. I think that is a fair and appropriate way to describe living.
To exist is to simply take up space. You move and breathe, you eat and sleep, but you lack the contribution of what you have to offer the world.
During college, I drank the CrossFit cool aid for about two years. I dedicated my time and effort to being fit, with the goal of being fitter than everyone else. One thing I learned during that time though, was that fitness gets a lot of people living, and causes others to merely exist.
I place a large emphasis on optimizing your own performance, in a primary effort to increase your ability to live. Train hard in the gym, in order to be able to do more outside of it. You like the outdoors? The fitter you are, the cooler places you can hike to. Do you like going to the beach? Fitness transforms the way you look to boost your confidence rocking the bathing suit. Do you want to be able to run around and play with your grandkids (current or future)? The fitter you are the more ability you'll have to be able to do that. Fitness leaks into all aspects of your life, and often times it can enable you to give the world that special and unique quality that only you have to offer.
I found, however, in those years that fitness can also take you to a state of mere existence. I love training, I love others who love to train, and train hard. The thing I've found though is that sometimes we gym rats (I have to include myself because I am guilty in this) put so much emphasis on training, that we forget about the world in which we live. I figured this out, after I started doing what a lot of CrossFit enthusiasts love to call "active rest days." Designed to be a day off from training, where you still do something active, this concept quickly turns into doing a workout, just at a lighter pace. This transformation that takes place, often times takes us away from doing things that allow us to offer our unique qualities to the world. If all you're doing is working out every day, then I must contend that you may be in a state of mere existence, and not living.
So I end with this. You need to work out. Better yet, you need to train. You need to train for life, in order to live it well. However, you need to be aware as to whether or not you exceed training for life, and only begin existing. You need to find balance. Train hard, and live the life that training prepared you for.