Can you imagine if you had been doing this all along? Exercising daily. Paying attention to your diet. Basically, doing all the things you know you should be doing. Imagine what you would look like now. Imagine being healthy, happy, and confident.
The past is gone. Forever. Imagining what would have been is pointless. Not learning from the past is reckless and foolish. Even though we are not guaranteed a tomorrow or another 10-20 years, take a moment a picture your two possible selves of the future. One never learned from the past and continued on the same path of complacency. That person is out of shape, not happy, and loaded with potential health problems. The vision of your other future is completely different. This person made the most of everyday. She is in shape. She is confident. Her dedication to fitness went beyond her physical body and extended to her whole lifestyle opening a new world of possibilities.
Begin to be now what you will be hereafter. –William James
Somewhere you got this idea that you were going to make a change. Maybe your clothes started fitting tighter, things began to get harder, or your doctor made some recommendations based on your last exam. It could be that you just want to look better and to be happier. It doesn’t really matter where the dream came from, you dreamed it. You imagined what life could be like on the other side of the hill, and now you want that life.
It could end there. Just a dream. Ethereal, not real. Something for other people, not you. Or you can decide, that it could be you. You could take action, because that is what you want. A thing that you want more than anything else. To be different. To be better. To make the image in your head a reality.
By taking action, you start to become your future self. The dream is no longer a dream but a future reality. Yes, it takes work, determination, and courage. But if this is what you truly want, more than anything else, then you will be fine doing whatever it takes to get there, because that is what your future self does.
You only get one body. That is why it is so important to take care of it. If you are like me, taking care of your body hasn’t always been a priority. Long periods of complacency and not giving it the best fuel eventually lead to it not living up to the expectations you set for it.
But now those dark days of physical neglect are over. You are training that body to be stronger. You are chiseling away all of the undesirable stuff. You are recreating your temple. But remember, it is not the body that let you down. The body did not choose to become soft. You let that happen. Go ahead and push your body to become stronger, but be careful not to overly punish it. Listen to what it has to tell you. There is a difference between driving out the weakness and ignoring the pain. Is the pain fatigue? Or is there something greater? Listen to the signals.
I should have been listening, but I wasn’t. My muscles were getting stronger, but the joints and tendons were not. Old injuries that never properly healed started to make their presence known again, most noticeably in my shoulder. Logically, I knew I needed to give it time to recover, but I didn’t want to listen. If you don’t have the ability to listen early, the body has a way of making you listen later on. Just hopefully, you do it before it is too late.
It’s going to be a journey. It’s not a sprint to get in shape. –Kerri Walsh Jennings
If this fitness journey is one that lasts a lifetime, take your time. By not rushing, you increase your chances of staying in it for the long haul. Your experience will be much more enjoyable, and your body will thank you for it.
There are some pretty popular workout routines floating around these days, but HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is one that has become really popular. HIIT involves doing an exercise at a high intensity for a short period of time followed by a rest period. Due to the amount of work during the high intensity phase these workouts do not last very long. There are variety of these routines you can do and if you push yourself hard enough, you can get your heart racing. A good example of a HIIT workout would be running sprints. You would run all-out for the sprint and then rest for a certain period of time or as necessary.
Now there are short and simple exercises which tire the body rapidly, and so save our time; and time is something which we ought to keep strict account. –Seneca XV: On Brawn and Brains
One of the biggest excuses I hear today by people not exercising is that they don’t have enough time. Logging excessive hours in the gym is not for everyone. And if you study philosophy, there is some pretty good advice from Seneca, a Roman stoic philosopher. In his 15th letter, he discusses the excesses of the ancient equivalent to our modern-day gym rats. Spending all their time working out led to them eating more and drinking more. Seneca actually says they had spent so much time working on their bodies that their minds had become dull (this from the excessive food and no doubt wine). From a philosophical standpoint, getting in a quick HIIT workout may be the way to go. The Stoics believe that time is one of our most precious commodities. You only get so much of it, and it would be a shame to waste it. Is there a better use for our time than spending all of it plodding along on the treadmill? Seneca seems to think so. He says that while yes we should be working out our bodies, we need to “come back soon from body to mind.” So get that metabolic pump in that is going to keep those calories burning throughout the day. But when you are done, consider working out the part of you that is really going to enhance your life and future. Again, here is Seneca:
The mind must be exercised both day and night, for it is nourished by moderate labor, and this form of exercise need not be hampered by cold or hot weather, or even by old age.
Never done a HIIT workout or don’t know where to begin? There is an amazing amount of free resources on the internet. Give them a try and see which ones work for you.
• Discipline applies to every aspect in your life. In terms of fitness, this is consistent work, good nutrition, and proper rest. Having just one part out of balance can have a negative impact on your total fitness. Can you achieve balance?
• Your success is determined by your daily effort. You have to do the work every day to succeed. How bad do you want to succeed?
• There will be a time when you will have to do this alone. You have the proper tools to do this, but do you have the drive to get it done?
• Motivation and inspiration are great tools to get the ball rolling, but eventually they will fade. If you have the discipline, you won’t need motivation. The results you achieve from discipline will give you plenty of inspiration. Look at where you want to be in the future. You started this journey because you weren’t happy with where you are at in life. Do you have the discipline to achieve your dreams?
What are your expectations? This question goes beyond fitness. It goes to your whole lifestyle. What are you expecting from yourself? Is the bar set high? If not, can we set it a little higher? Before you can achieve the level of fitness you are hoping for, you need to set some expectations for where you will be in the future. Imagine what you would look like 10 years from now if ate the right things and exercised consistently. Can you do that now? Can you eat right and exercise on a daily basis now? Create the vision of your future self and do the work necessary to obtain that vision. It will not be easy in the beginning. Temptation will be around every corner. It will take discipline to stay on track. You already have this desire for a better future within you. You have people that want to see and help you succeed. And the best part is this: You have the ability to make your dreams come true. Now go make it happen.
This is the first week you are on your own. At least in the gym where you will have no workout partner. This will be a good week for a self-assessment. Can you push yourself? Will you cheat yourself? Do you have the discipline to get to the gym while most of the world is still sleeping? Or will you take an extra day off and sleep a little longer?
The decisions you make this week will play a large part in your fitness success. This journey is ideally one you will be on the rest of your life. A mediocre output will result in mediocre success. But if you push through the barriers that your mind will create, you can find that you are able to do more than you imagined. This week will test whether you only have the desire to get fit or if you have the discipline to get fit.