Want to get fit and stay that way? No problem. Here’s my super-secret program with everything you need do to achieve lifelong health and fitness.
Handy-Dandy Fitness Plan
Just follow this all-purpose fitness plan, and you’ll be set for life:
- Get up an hour before the rest of the household four days a week.
- Meditate or do yoga for 20 minutes
- Go for a 5-mile run or do a 40-minute aerobic workout
- Hit the gym two days a week after work for an hour of strength training
- Don’t sit too much
- Eat nutritious foods
There. Thanks for buying my book. Now get to it! No excuses.
Yeah… That’s Not Going to Work.
There’s nothing wrong with doing that exact plan. It’s pretty good, actually, except for sacrificing an hour of sleep. We could call it The Ultimate Elite Warrior Method to Building a Lean, Strong Physique Through Toughness and Discipline. Sounds great, right?
That might work great for Navy SEALs, but what about us ordinary mortals? This kind of advice always seems to be for people who are some combination of wealthy and working flexible hours, who have household staff and no caregiving responsibilities. It assumes a high level of health and fitness to start with, and solid familiarity with an array exercises and equipment, as if everyone spent their high school years in the weight room and now has a gym in their garage.
I don’t even know if my high school had a weight room. I was sure never told about it.
The people who promote this approach are the same ones who tell us to “just delegate” all those tedious, life-wasting tasks we despise. Then we’ll have all the time we need to do meaningful work we enjoy! Yeah, right. Like we all have personal assistants following us around.
“Be a Great Marimba Player!”
Telling most people to approach fitness this way is like saying “Play the marimba! Just practice a couple hours a day. You can do it!”
It’s not wrong. If you practice the marimba every day you’ll get pretty good.
But what if you don’t have a marimba. You’re not really familiar with marimba music — you didn’t grow up around it; none of your family or friends played. You definitely don’t have the faintest idea of how to play one. Plus, who has that kind of time? Besides, somebody told when you were a kid that you’re tone deaf, so you don’t even think you’re capable of learning to play music.
It’s a Whole Thing
Before launching your new career as a hot marimba player in local clubs you’d need to take a look at where you are, and where you want to be. There’s a lot to learn and overcome before you can even “just practice!” Here are a few things you’ll need to do:
- Get your hearing checked out to see if you really are tone deaf after all.
- Listen to a variety of marimba styles to see what kind of music you might like to play.
- Figure out where to get a marimba – and where are you going to put it?
- Ask around about teachers, or search for videos.
- Learn what it means to practice effectively.
- Talk to marimba players about their experience. Maybe start hanging out at their weekly jam.
- Look at what you’re willing to give up to make room in your schedule for practice.
- Sort out when and where you can practice that won’t have your family and neighbors raging at you.
- Decide if you even really want this. Are you excited about learning to play? Does it sound like fun? Would you feel like it’s an important accomplishment?
All those things need to happen before we can even think about that breezy “just practice every day” advice.
How to “Fail” at Fitness
We know that this “be disciplined about it” approach is obvious horsepucky when we’re talking about any other complex, demanding skill. But somehow with fitness we think we should be able to “just get started,” maybe first thing tomorrow morning, through sheer force of will and good character. If we are sufficiently “committed” or “motivated,” or something, we’ll fall right into our new routine and be clicking along effortlessly in no time.
This is how people “fail,” get discouraged, and give up.
Let’s not do that.
Build a Foundation
If you want to play golf, have a horse, grow your own food, build race cars, become a sculptor, or whatever, there are things to know, skills to learn, people to know, stuff you’ll need, and decisions to make.
It’s not “you as you are now,” who will somehow be able to do this new thing every day. It’s about “becoming a person who” does this new thing, naturally. It’s the consistent flow of small actions that shift your perception of yourself. This is what almost every fitness program misses: the underlying transformational work.
Once more, for those in the back:
It’s not “you as you are now,” who will somehow be able to do this new thing every day.
It’s about “becoming a person who” does this new thing, naturally.
It’s the consistent flow of small actions that shift your perception of yourself.
This is what almost every fitness program misses: the underlying transformational work.
That’s what we’re up to here: Transformation
You’ll start with small steps — building skills, gaining knowledge, developing habits, optimizing your environment — to build a solid foundation that will support you in living a fit, active life.