“Stupid” goals can make you healthy

The biggest killer in North America is heart disease (CDC). (Although cancer may overtake it soon, 2019 study.)

Heart disease causes early death, pain and suffering, and robs people of living well for many years—sometimes even decades—before they finally die.

Do I care about that even though it could realistically affect me in the future?


One study showed that when we consider ourselves decades into the future, we care about our future self as much as we care about a stranger. (study)

(Perhaps this is more evidence why we should love our neighbour as ourselves. For if we see ourselves in 10 years as we see a neighbour, it might do us well to love the neighbour to love ourselves.)

Research over the past few decades has given us some guidelines on what we can do to beat heart disease.

The CDC says all we have to do is walk at least 22 minutes a day. (CDC)

That’s not a lot.

In a 2017 joint editorial on heart disease and if we should be cutting out saturated fats, like avoiding a nice marbled steak and only drinking skim milk (never whole), researchers wrote that after looking at the evidence, saturated fats aren’t really our enemy. (editorial)

The true enemy? Not moving.

The 11 authors concluded that heart disease is a multifactorial disease, and can’t be fixed by simply limiting a type of dietary fat (that we need to live.)

But we could make a huge dent in heart disease by walking at least 150 minutes a week—or 22 minutes a day. (This is the same recommendation as from the CDC.)

And it seems like from the research, doing that walk outside would also help cardiovascular health through bright light exposure (study) and some vitamin D generation (article). (And perhaps a hearty daily helping of dark leafy greens for nitric oxide (study, review) and vitamin K (review).)

Easy enough. It’s way easier than suffering through heart disease (and who knows what else.)

But still, no changes made.

Why doesn’t information change us?

Sure, data and information can change us sometimes. But many times it fails to propel us to take action.

Three weeks ago, I started walking more as part of an experiment.

My exact goal was to hit 10,000 steps a day, which required walking every day. Sometimes, it would mean I’d sometimes have to walk over an hour to lock in the final 6000 steps I needed to hit before bed.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that my energy has improved, I feel less tired throughout the day, I am less moody, and overall just feel good.

In fact, I feel so good that I am going to keep it up to the commitment to doing 10,000 steps every day for another month.

Did I start walking to combat heart disease, diabetes, and who knows what other horrible diseases I could get in 40 years?


Do you want to know the real reason?

I did it as an experiment to see if being more active would melt the final little bit of stubborn fat on my lower abs. (And it’s working.)

Doesn’t that just sound so stupid?

“Walk more, or you’ll get some sort of horrible disease in the future.”

*Shrugs shoulders*

“Walk more as part of our step by step solution to get shredded abs!!!”

“Here’s my money! I’m starting tonight!”

There’s a loud group of people that harp on the skin-deep side of marketing.

For men, it might be how to get shredded and ripped for the beach. For women, it might be how to get hourglass curves and a toned stomach.

These people say that it’s damaging and an unhealthy message to spread.

But maybe the marketers have found out that appealing to the “stupid” stuff is the only way to make us act now—in the present.

Perhaps for men, going for abs and a big chest gets them outside and walking, lifting weights, and develops their patience, grit, and determination.

For women, perhaps trying to build a bigger butt while getting a leaner and toned waist, might help them practice self-mastery and build their confidence, while improving their health.

In both scenarios, they get healthier, fitter, and more capable bodies.

Here’s where I see the problem…

The only thing I see wrong with the “stupid” stuff, is if someone *only* has the “stupid” stuff.

If getting abs is someone’s only goal in life, there’s already a problem. (And it isn’t with trying to get abs.)

The oft proposed solution to switch to a more politically correct body image mantra, like “accept your body” doesn’t fix this problem either.

The problem is deeper than that.

Until our society recognizes that our worth and value aren’t tied to the state our body is in (imago Dei), we’re choosing to be enslaved by our crumbling, aging bodies.

But if we understand that each of us is beautiful, worthy, and unique creation—despite the condition our body is in—then we’re free to have fun with all the “stupid” stuff.

We can be free to know that it won’t make or break us.

And who knows, maybe it’ll even be fun.

I, for one, think that if something deemed “stupid” actually helps to make people take action today to be pain-free, to be brimming with energy, and to be around for their grandkids, that’s a good thing.

If something “stupid” is the gateway to becoming healthy, fit, strong, and can benefit others with their restored body—well, that’s pretty great.

Socrates is to have said:

“The fit are healthy and strong… many help friends and do good to their country and for this cause earn gratitude; get great glory and gain very high honours, and for this cause live henceforth a pleasanter and better life…

Besides, it is a disgrace to grow old through sheer carelessness before seeing what manner of man you may become by developing your bodily strength and beauty to their highest limit.”

Anyways, I’m sure that was far too much philosophical droning.

In the meantime, it could be worth thinking about how could you use a “stupid” goal to make you gear into action and get going.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.