If being fit were as easy as having a list of the right exercises, the Internet would have ended the obesity crisis. There are a gazillion exercise programs out there!
Lack of information isn’t your main obstacle.
Your main obstacle is you.
You are also your greatest opportunity.
This fitness leap, like any drastic lifestyle change, is difficult, because humans are creatures of habit. We know when to watch our favorite shows, when to arrive at the airport to catch a flight, when to brush our teeth. We go to work on Monday and sleep in on Saturday. Some of us go to church, some watch football. We like to assume we’ll eat another meal, live another day, cash another pay- check, and that nothing out of the ordinary will interrupt what we perceive to be straight and steady progress toward some goal.
Often we settle into these routines lacking self-awareness, only to wake up in a strange place, blink, and say, “How did I get here? Have I been here this whole time?” Habits become deeply ingrained, and they exert a unique and powerful control over our lives that sometimes takes more than willpower to resist.
Precious few are immune to the waking sleep of habitual life. Even the best of us can become so comfortable that days blur into weeks, weeks into months, and, before we know it, we are living a life constructed for the most part while asleep. Heck, twenty years ago, when I was a trader on Wall Street, growing plump in my office chair, I had no idea what was going on with my health. I just knew I didn’t feel nearly as well each day as I thought I should. Many of us are sleeping now. If we don’t wake up soon, we may end up somewhere we didn’t want to go, or worse, nowhere.
In sleepwalking through life, a person may unknowingly reject a golden opportunity, thinking it strange and unconventional and therefore incompatible with “normal.”
But could it be that “normal” is not what it should be? That the good life has gradually been covered and weighed down with something else, to the point where it is now buried? Could it be that what we thought was life has kept us from living this whole time? What could living be, anyway, if it’s not this? So the truth startles us, unsettles us, even terrifies us, because it clashes so violently with our neat and tidy expectations and with our sense of what is normal. The truth asks too much.
We’d have to change everything. Furthermore, the devices, systems, and tools we have to make our lives better are actually crippling. They are braces and casts for our mental muscles, atrophying the mind’s ability to adapt and then overcome.
The habits we form become so strong that we believe change is impossible. Only, this is untrue.
Change is actually a guarantee; the only variable is the form it takes. Continue with life as is, and the changes experienced will be negative: declining health, zero motivation, and lack of energy and achievement. Our limits are a prison of our own making, with bars made of a thousand small decisions to sit and wait, to accept the reality given to us by everyone but ourselves. Everything in the life of habit is predetermined. Without new horizons, we might as well call it quits.
Humans are meant to strive and grow. From birth to death, trillions of cells in our body continuously reproduce and regenerate. Humans are meant to work, to sweat, and to then bask in the exhaustion that often accompanies great achievement. Humans are meant to be healthy, with a body that functions long and efficiently. Humans are meant for a greater purpose than sitting, watching, and consuming. And it’s not just our physical health I’m talking about: striving and struggling give our lives deeper meaning.
No one is born physically fit. Everyone who ever became fit did so through a thousand simple decisions — decisions they made every day to move, to exercise, to purge their imperfections, to eat the healthiest foods, and to structure their lives in pursuit of important goals. You may be out of shape or in failing health, but change is still possible. When you leave the couch, it will be headfirst. Your mind leads the way; your body follows suit.
Before that moment, a thousand excuses might enter your mind:
“I don’t have time.”
“I’m out of shape.”
“I’m scared I’ll injure myself.”
“This whole fitness thing is just a fad.”
If you think you don’t have time, you probably don’t. If you think you’re out of shape, you probably are. Yet for every obstacle we face, there is a solution, if only we take the time and energy to look for it. If fitness is a fad, if feeling your best every day is a fad, then human life itself is a fad.
Wake up. Turn on the lights. Get off the couch. Put down the French fries. The old normal of inactivity, of processed food, and of limits to your potential is over. A new normal is about to begin. It consists of constant improvement, of crushing your goals, and of robust living built on the most human of principles. It’s time to get Spartan Fit!
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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