The best advice I can give anyone who wants to be fit but doesn't want to put in the work to do it, is change your perception of what fit is. This is the simple trick I use when I am not feeling especially energetic around my physical activity. It works for thousands of people, and it could work for you, too. I wouldn't say that it will put you in a better position physically, but mentally, it helps a lot. A good example of where else changing definitions effect health and wellness is how many shapes we have had to plan our meals with: squares, circles, pyramids, and I am sure there are more. Each time the shape changed, Americans were told to change their eating habits to reflect it. Each shape was right, for its time. Beauty and fitness are fads that change with cultural shifts. If you can wrap your head around this, you too can be quite fit.
The following is a pick-and-choose type list, but, you do have the option of doing all of this stuff. It is what I do, and it works for me, but as I have said time and time again, it really is best if you figure out what type of person you are, what motivates you, and what you love. This will keep you active and as a result, fit, for the rest of your days.
Five Steps to Fitness
- Set goals for your old age. When my mom was about 65, she slowed down. A lot. It was difficult to go anywhere with her, because she could not climb stairs or really walk anywhere very quickly. She was unhealthy and overweight, but it was way too late for her to do anything at all about it. It was depressing for her to be in that state, though she was responsible for putting herself there. After this experience, I decided I would not be as feeble at that age. I decided that I would be able to walk stairs, go hiking, and ride my bike, so I make sure that all of those things are part of my life now. My long-term goal is to get around without assistance, so I participate in activities now that will get me there.
- Know what type of activity you enjoy. Too many times I have heard people who sign up for Crossfit then complain about it all the time, or start doing Insanity and limp around after an especially arduous work-out, or go to some kind of boot camp and get hurt about three weeks into it because their body could not take the stress. Physical activity used to be fun. It used to be play. I try and make my physical activity as much like play as I possibly can, because the moment it is not, I begin to hate it, or check out mentally, and when I do that, I get hurt or I quit. So, I do handstands throughout the day, I leap up the stairs. I see how long I can hold myself up on my forearms. I do things that I will have fun doing, things that will challenge me. Things that do not seem like work.
- Do not watch TV. This might sound like it has nothing to do with fitness, but it is actually the most important one on this list. Sitting in one position for hours on end is not good for your body or your mind. You are completely passive and receptive to whatever comes your way. Hours pass and you have wasted another evening of your life not living it. I implore you, get rid of your TV and replace it with a work bench, a desk, anything that will either keep your mind or your body engaged. You will not believe the difference it makes in your life.
- Eat intelligently. This is very general. I am not a fan of telling people what or how to eat. But I can tell you that it is easier to lose weight/maintain weight loss when you are eating real food. What this means, generally, is that it is not pre-prepared, it is not overy processed, and it is relatively fresh. What this also includes is eating when you are hungry, not when you are bored or thirsty or otherwise. Go to the effort of finding foods you love and eat those foods. Be a food adventurer. Right now there are so many ways to find great and easy recipes on-line. If you are a complete novice start with children's cook books. The food and recipes in them are simple and tasty because they are meant as an introduction to eating and cooking. Eating intelligently also means making sure you are not consuming calories when they are not needed. For instance, I try not to eat after six. Why? I don't routinely do much after six, so there is no reason to load myself up with energy.
- Be conscious about transportation. I am a bike commuter. I am also a big fan of walking. I don't own a car for many reasons, but one of the big ones is that having and using a bike kills several birds with one stone. I get to have fun because I love bike riding, I get to see a lot more of my journey because I am going slower, I get great exercise because I am depending on my own strength to get me around, and whenever I get to where I am going, I feel like a badass. In short, bike riding and commuting on foot builds confidence because you are almost completely self sufficient. It is truly a beautiful thing.
All that said, the value in being fit is that it allows you to do things. Being fit allows you to play with your kids, walk your daughter down the aisle, take your grandkids to Disney. It allows you to hike the PCT, play golf with the fellas, dance until the club closes down. In short, fitness is the goal because the life you can live with fitness is that much more of an adventure. The life you live with fitness contains within it more possibility, more choice, more freedom. I am the first to admit that I very much enjoy looking healthy. But the reason I do it is because I want nothing to stand in my way of having an excellent adventure, least of all my own inability to get my ass off the couch.