by Todd Matson
There it is. Did you hear it? Close your eyes and listen for a second. If you really concentrate hard you can hear it deep down inside of you beating away. Depending on what you are doing right now it is probably operating at 50 to 100 beats per minute, and it does this everyday without fail, all our lives. They say the typical size of your heart is a little bigger than your fist, but I would argue that it is much bigger than that, in terms of importance. While you are reading this, your heart is pumping approximately a gallon of blood per minute, depending on your fitness level, which equates to 1,440 gallons of blood a day. Think about that number for a second. Inside of each and every one of us there is a relatively small muscle whose sole purpose is to supply blood to the rest of the body so that we can function throughout the day … or is it?
It happens to everyone. You have the greatest intentions of having an amazing workout and then other things come up. Before you know it you are convincing yourself that if you just take care of a few more things you will be able to concentrate on your workout more. Then it happens. You look outside and its already dark and you were scheduled to go for a long bike ride but don’t feel comfortable out there at night. You could hop in the car and head to the gym, but there are more and more excuses just piling up and the next thing you know it is time for bed and another workout day has passed. This is where the heart comes in.
Once you have the ability to truly understand how powerful a muscle the heart is then you can use it to overcome the sometimes-daily battle that occurs in every one of us between the brain and the body. The brain is there to protect us and does an amazing job at that; but does it also limit us as well? Maybe it’s not even the brain’s fault that it limits us, because we are the ones that use its' power to find excuses. Need more proof? Just walk outside and take a look around.
Look down the street at the little girl on her bike. She is always out there for hours and hours on end. She does not think about the stresses of daily life, partly because she doesn’t have as many as the rest of us but also because her heart is strong. She knows that when she is out there running around and playing she feels free and alive. She doesn’t think about how tired she will be later on but more so how much she is enjoying this very moment and that is all that matters to her. Her heart is winning the battle over her brain and she is reaping the benefits of it.
OK, I see you way in the back with your hand up, and I know your question already. “She is just a little kid and doesn’t have to deal with the same things I have to deal with everyday. Isn’t it unfair to compare how her heart operates compared to mine?” Well you are right, and in a selfish attempt to prove a point maybe I used a bad example or maybe I just used that example to get you off the couch and out of the house, because here comes example number two.
There he goes. Maybe you’ve noticed him before or maybe you haven’t, but day in and day out he is out there riding his bike that was specifically made for him. Is he an elite athlete with numerous sponsors? No. The bike was donated to him after he returned home from a land that most of us would never visit. He left his family and friends behind to go overseas for his country and he returned a shell of the man he was when he left. Or did he? Everyday when the alarm clock goes off and most of us just dread the noise, his heart is already helping him with the task ahead. It elevates almost immediately to give him the power to move. This simple task for most that involves using our legs is no longer simple for him. His arms ache from the day before but nonetheless he is moving and therefore he knows he is alive. Soon he is out of bed and taking care of the same tasks we all have before our morning ride. Sure his bike looks different and operates in a way unlike ours. His arms drive his instead of his legs, but it still propels him at amazing speeds. He is not making excuses about anything anymore because he knows what drives him. So what if he legs were taken? Because deep down one thing remains untouched.
It is inside him and all of us, hopefully beating a little faster now. It doesn’t matter if you are the little girl playing with her friends or the soldier that has come home from war, because deep down inside of everyone there is this amazing muscle. A muscle that not only has the ability to pump 1,440 gallons of blood a day throughout our bodies, but also has the ability to lift us up when we are down, motivate us when the weather is a little too dreary, and focus us on what is truly important in this life. Movement is life. Whether you are taking that first step off of the couch or that final step in a 140.6-mile journey, your heart has never left you. It is what drives each and every one of us to be something greater than we are.
So the real question you must ask yourself is, “Am I using it to its fullest potential?”