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First steps: Getting Fit on a Full Life

My first advice for anyone trying to heal, or build on their health is to take stock of the things you are willing to trade away for a stronger body. Why?

As a public health professional, I observe too many people cramming a fitness lifestyle into an already packed schedule. Inevitably, the result of this is either injury, "falling off the wagon," or otherwise unsatisfying results. At least within the United States, we run overly optimized lifestyles, with every day of the month packed as full as we can possibly manage. It's easy to know what is required to become strong, but it's hard to actually make space for these solutions.

This is a reminder that you can only take on and overlap so many agendas before your actions fail to serve any of them effectively.

A venn diagram comparing "current," and "previous" priorities.
Take stock on what matters

So look at your life and decide which hobbies, social groups, vices, priorities, identities, and even ideologies you are willing to let go of in order to successfully heal, or even get into shape. Consider this decision a sacrificial offering to your future self by way of reflecting and releasing what you no longer need from present self.

Next, envision your goals. What do you expect from yourself?

How do your self-expectations compare to what it is you are willing to give up? Asking this question is necessary to determine whether your desired results are likely. If you're only giving up a few minutes of time and a low priority activity, you can't realistically expect to "transform" your current body.

A man performing a kettle bell swing exercise.
Find pursuits worth chasing!

Lastly, I advise setting aside your attachment to the results. The weight you've always wanted to be at, the pounds you wish to shed, the look you want... Counterintuitively, all those expectations are baggage once you've already made the commitment. Your most important task for now is to build the habit and the mindset! Let go of the numeric results; for if you become the habit, the body will follow. Trust the work!

The reason this last piece of advise is important is because it's easy to get so fixated on the results that you push yourself past reasonable quotas (exercise, diets, and other lifestyle habits become extreme) and inevitably sustain an injury.

You don't want to spin your wheels for nothing though, so tracking progress is important to dial in the effectiveness of your efforts over time; in other words, along your transformative journey, it's useful to get a system in place for acknowledging your successes and setbacks.

These are the three basic rules that I follow for making progress in any endeavor. If you've been having trouble making gains in your life, give them a shot. I think you'll be surprised at how much easier accomplishments will become.

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