As of late, my gym attendance was at an all time low. For months I had neglected to enter my iron palace to indulge in the ritual of lifting things up and then proceeding to put them down. Slowly, as my workload increased, I began to shift focus away from fitness and redistributed my energy between other priorities. Eventually, my fitness goals ceased indefinitely and my absence from the gym deeply altered my brain chemistry. I became half as cheerful as my former self, lacked motivation and developed a lower tolerance for bullshit (a tolerance that is much needed in these trying times). Instead of finding a balance I elected to abandon fitness altogether. This deviation from fitness that I so firmly believed was aiding my progress was rather hindering my capacity for growth. How could I possibly make advancements when the very thing seeding my creativity and drive was dead?
A short while ago, I awoke to the nauseating realization that my last few months of attempted productivity bore no fruit… no advancement in business, no personal growth, nothing. My energy stores were already depleted upon waking in the morning and the mere thought of effort spawned feelings of lethargy.
After some reflection, I was able to trace my decline back to a single culprit… my abandonment of fitness. For myself, like many of you, fitness fuels our daily momentum and keeps us centered in a world that endlessly works to divide our attention. I began to realize that fitness played a strikingly positive role in my life and its reintegration was essential for suffocating my stagnation. A thorough restructuring of how and why I did fitness was in order if I was to balance it with a busy lifestyle.
If you’re anything like yours truly, your life is a cluster-fack of responsibilities and ambitions and your efforts are frequently thwarted by a lack of balance… but how can you consistently make progress in your endeavours when said “lack of balance” is throwing your time and priorities out of whack? Fortunately, there’s a pill for that… and it’s called…
bad terrible jokes aside, there’s no simple answer for finding that perfect balance. It takes willingness to change, action and discipline. Discipline is so important because you need to be able to sustain action long enough to create a habit… and once you’ve adapted those habits, it becomes effortless to maintain balance. We won’t dive too deep into discipline, but I will say it is a necessary quality if you want to get anywhere in life.
I implemented the following practices to regain control of my life… and combined with the discipline to create new habits, I forged the weaponry to execute every day with impeccable balance.
RE-EVALUATE WHY YOU DO FITNESS
In our modern age of public diaries like Instagram and the longing for social acceptance… people often forget that fitness is more than just looking good. We diet, pedal, run and lift our insecurities away so that we may showcase our best-looking-selves to the world. While doing-the-fitness strictly to look good isn’t a crime, it’s perilous to ingrain appearance as the sole purpose for fitness. Trust me when I say that appearance becomes less important as you mature and so you’ll be left with nothing to nurture your reason for fitness as you age. It’s crucial that you find a realistic purpose for fitness in anticipation that you will sustain it for a lifetime.
We need to understand that fitness is just as vital for our health and quality of life as food, water and oxygen. If fitness and health aren’t priorities in your life, MAKE THEM PRIORITIES! They are tremendously important for prolonged wellness and mobility. Fitness is the reason that some of your grandparents are skiing and hiking into their 70’s while others have fallen and can’t get up.
Remember that life is locomotion… if you’re not moving, you’re not living.
So, if you’ve found that you’re falling off the fitness bandwagon or that appearance is your WHY for fitness, it’s time to re-evaluate why you’re in the game. Our wellness should be the primary focus for why we engage in daily physical activity and once you acknowledge that… your outlook on exercise and its importance for your life will change.
WEED OUT TIME WASTERS
Scarcity of time was the leading factor in my decision to drop my fitness regiment. As business growth and relationships began to demand more of my attention, I gradually withdrew more and more time from fitness until my account inevitably ran dry. I was convinced that exchanging fitness for time was advancing growth in my business and relationships… but that notion was as far from the truth as it gets.
In my descent from fitness, I came to a shocking realization about its significance not only for my health, but also my productivity…
FITNESS BREEDS CREATIVITY
Routine exercise is proven to boost cognitive functions such as abstract thinking, problem solving and the ability to conceive original ideas. For myself especially, exercise stokes the fire that drives me to create and grow. It’s no wonder that mental blocks were plaguing my productivity… my creative juices stopped flowing.
I finally understood that fitness needed to make a comeback, but I was still afflicted with the matter of time. No longer allowing myself to withdraw from the precious time dedicated to fitness, I elected to probe for other sources of time. The key was to begin identifying time wasters by keeping track of which daily activities are productive and which are not. Reflecting on my new data, it became apparent one thing I was spending far too much time on was trivial entertainment like social media and games. Social media is harmful in that it reduces us to zombies and numbs our connection to reality… and no, I’m not wearing a tinfoil hat. While social media is a powerful networking tool, our addiction to its pleasures can effortlessly direct our attention away from our own stories. Think of yourself as the main character of an immersive, story-driven video game. Do you want the bulk of your time to fuel your main story, or do you want your story advancement hindered by unnecessary side quests?
Ultimately, there were more time-wasters than just social media crippling my growth. Once I was able to identify and weed out these invasions… I witnessed a colossal change to my productivity. Keep in mind that I did not completely cut these time wasters out of my life. Like our friend Fez, we all have needs.
It’s OK to indulge in the occasional meme binge, catch up on a friend’s posts or relax with a soothing game. Just remember, during our most energetic hours… time spent on “wasters” should be repurposed for creativity and forwarding your own story.
CHANGE THE WAY YOU DO FITNESS
Had I not been blessed with an incredible winter on the slopes, the severity of my divorce from the gym could have been substantially worse.
I’m fortunate that the end of my slumber on fitness aligned with the beginning of an unbelievable skiing season. In years prior, skiing was just a casual hobby. This season, it’s evolved into my greatest passion; a passion that’s become an integral cog in my fitness regime. There are few stimulants in this world that produce a euphoria like barreling down a slope at breakneck speeds, carving as aggressively as physics will allow or soaring through the air as if to take flight.
Accompanying the euphoria was remarkable muscle growth I hadn’t been able to spark with over 5 years in the gym. The movements and athleticism associated with skiing excited muscles that I had not previously used in any other setting. A fit of delighted confusion prompted me to start rethinking my fitness goals…
My mind began to dwell on the concept of diversity. Surely, there had to be a better, more efficient way than strictly weight training to improve my overall fitness and athleticism.
My first step was to breakdown and assess my training sessions in the gym. Between trailing conversations with workout partners and lengthy rest periods, I lacked the focus necessary to fully exploit the benefits of the gym. I often found myself spending 2+ hours training, of which only half that time was actually spent lifting weights. As you can imagine, that played a heavy role in my lack of time. While everyone has varying goals and levels of dedication to fitness, the majority don’t need 2-3 hours of lifting to ignite the physical growth they desire. After identifying the faults in my training methods, I simply re-adopted the foundation of efficient weight training…
This means… increase tension, reduce rest, remove momentum and perform quality reps. Also, don’t forget to lift an appropriate amount of iron. With the proper weight, your desired number of sets and rep range should be nearly impossible to bang out. Blending the re-adoption of high intensity training with focus, I’ve been able to slash my training time down to an hour and my frequency of training from 6 days to 3-4 days a week… all while yielding the same or more benefits. All this new-found time brings me back to my pondering of…
Increasing the efficiency of my weight training freed up enough time to broaden my fitness regiment. Seeing that skiing produced specific muscle growth that no amount of gym time has been able to parallel enticed me to begin experimenting with new ways of fitness. I started skiing more seriously; pushing the limits of my body… every day on the slopes was a workout. During unfavourable snow conditions, I decided to revive an old passion of mine. Sprinting. Sprinting as a HIIT workout, especially with resistance (uphill, parachute, etc.) is enormously difficult, but as equally rewarding. If you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is, shame on you… and also look it up on Google. HIIT triggers a reaction in your body that increases your resting metabolism allowing for continuous burning of calories for up to 24+ hours post workout. Plus, you can complete a HIIT workout in an exceptionally short amount of time. Cool, hey? Seriously, look it up!
Diversifying my fitness routine has vastly improved my overall athleticism and my body gives thanks daily with gifts of enhanced mobility, endurance, flexibility and happiness. While weight training is integral for a well-built fitness regiment, it’s not enough to truly push the limits of what our bodies are capable of. If all you do is lift weights… that’s typically all you are good at. I have friends who couldn’t squat without weight on their back or jump over an obstacle to save their life. Stupid meatheads. To those friends I say… what good will all that lifting and accompanying stiffness do when the zombie apocalypse rolls around? Face facts, you’re going to have to jump over things…
Full disclosure, the zombie apocalypse is my true driver for a diverse fitness regiment.
Fitness diversity not only bestows physical benefits, but also sparks a sustainable passion for lifelong fitness and well-being.
INVOLVE YOUR LOVED ONES
It’s blatantly obvious that your relationships are going to suffer if you’re continually abandoning your family or significant other in pursuit of fitness. It’s equally unfair for you to be guilted into submission when fitness is so crucial to your happiness and growth. I’ve seen what smothering a partner’s ambitions can do to the individuals in a relationship and it’s not pretty. For those of us with families and life partners, a mutual understanding of each others’ goals is essential for balance.
To quickly revisit time-wasters, once they’ve been identified… start trading wasted time for quality time with your loved ones. They’ll thank you for it.
If you struggle to balance your passions, your work and your family… the best, most brilliant thing you can do is to share fitness with your loved ones. Upon seeing results, fitness becomes an addictive habit. If you imbed fitness into your family’s or partner’s lifestyle and help them to achieve said results, you could forge a fitness relationship to last a lifetime.
Balance isn’t easy to achieve, but it’s a better alternative to the regret you may feel for abandoning your passions. The degree of probability to which something will be a part of your long-term life is dependant on how highly you rank its importance. We live in an age in which society has justified laziness and the act of simply coasting through life. A sedentary lifestyle is attractive to the human mind, so in opposition, we are tasked with creating our own incentives to work hard. Practice responsibility and hold yourself accountable for your growth and wellbeing. Re-evaluate the WHY, stop wasting time, make changes in your life and be with your loved ones. That’s balance. That’s living.
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