Keep Living, Advice From My Father

“Keep Living!” That is the advice of my father. He gave us this reminder whenever something unexpected or tragic happened. For a time, I thought that he was expressing indifference. I thought that his way of saying fuck it was to just say “keep living”. It wasn’t until I grew older and he would follow up his catch phrase with, “that’s all you can do” that I began to understand. When a family member died, my brother and I heard him say it. Keep living. My father still says it today, his simple reminder, left for interpretation like an ancient koan, meant to clear the mind of conscious thought. My brother and I have embraced this mantra over the years and deciphered it as a reminder that we must move on, beyond the event that has the potential to shut down our world. We’re unable to put everything on hold and just stop, we must keep living. I hope that others can embrace this attitude as well. Keep living.

As time has moved forward, we have determined another meaning for Pop’s words of wisdom. In the event of the unexpected, we take inventory of our emotions, and then we’re reminded to keep living. As we keep living, we will be met with greater surprises. We will be surprised by joy, tragedy, new responsibilities, literal/figurative walls to climb, love and pain. If you think this is something, just keep living. You ain’t seen nothing, yet.

Being surprised is an unavoidable part of our lives. Because of this I’ve always battled with the phrase, “expect the unexpected” or the action movie quote, “be ready for anything.” Well, how am I supposed to do that? How do I prepare for a fight with the invisible man? Perhaps it’s part of the keep living mantra to be prepared for anything, within our scope of experience. My brother, a Marine, once reminded me to never leave the house without shoes because, “you never know when you have to run.” I thought he was paranoid. Those of you that have spent any time with me, have seen me spontaneously take off running for any of several reasons. I’m usually trying to be a good Samaritan and chase after someone that dropped something. Because of his advice, I am always ready to run, even in a three-piece suit. Keep living, you’ll learn to stay prepared.

It’s a common misconception that a healthy and fit lifestyle is a life riddled with diet and restriction, no fun and no chocolate. Quite the contrary, my life is not one of restriction. Further, most diets are ridiculous. Yes. I said it. You’ve been a host to this body long enough to know how it will respond to different types of food. Don’t eat/drink things that make you sleepy, suck your energy, or rot your teeth. Food is meant to make us feel good. Keep living and do it by eating well. You’ve heard me say it before, I am not a Registered Dietitian. I am a Fitness Coach. I’m not going to make a meal plan for you or tell you what to eat. I will remind you that common sense should guide your food choices. Is it deep-fried and made in a lab with a 2 year shelf life? Do you think it’s a good idea to eat that? Probably not. If you do eat it, should you feel stress and guilt over your choice? Nope. Keep living. You’ll eat a broad spectrum of things throughout your life. That deep fried Oreo with Nutella dipping sauce tasted really fucking good. Keep living. Don’t judge yourself and don’t assume that others judge you.

Whether you use it as a training mantra, a recovery mantra or a life mantra, keep living. When life, painfully, reminds us that all things end we must keep living, this too shall pass. When we are tired of the challenges that life presents and we want a break we must keep living, more challenges are ahead. When we’re sore and wondering why we signed up for *that* endurance event, keep training, keep living and keep moving forward. Giddyup!

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