Lots of people get out of shape, don't think about it, and then one day hit rock bottom or have a realization and go crazy to get into shape.
I'm not sure that's the best way to go about it.
I was pretty significantly injured in March (described here), and my fitness probably hit a low point in May. Now it's interesting - I actually haven't been on any sort of hardcore program since then, but I see my fitness levels improving.
I started working in movement and motion into every day. I tried to go for a walk, at least 15 minutes but ideally an hour every single day. No matter how busy you are, you could find time to do this.
I multi-task the walk. At the very least, I listen to an audiobook. This seven hours of walking time each week means I get through lots of audiobooks, which is great. I'm learning every day.
When I run errands, I try to walk instead of taking a taxi if I'm not in business clothing. After reading Bruce Lee's book, I started taking the stairs. ("Bruce Lee Took the Stairs")
I haven't gone on any crazy fasting or binging with my diet. I've gradually started eating more fruits and vegetables, and gradually cut down sugar. I do some situps most days, and pushups or pullups sometimes. This is something anyone could do - start with 5 situps. Anyone could do 5. Then build up.
I stretch every day. I started my stretches with a program I got from a physical therapist for my legs, but gradually added in arms, torso, neck, and back. It's good, I really like stretching. I feel a lot healthier when I'm stretching, and it's own sort of pleasure.
At some point, I'll be settled in again and I might get a gym membership, or take up CrossFit or something. But it's not entirely necessary. If you're busy, it doesn't have to be an all or nothing proposition - for a lot of people, they destroy their health until one day they get into a hardcore regime. Problem is, it's easy to fall off a hardcore regime if you're busy.
So, how about you stop waiting, and start adding a little more fitness into your life? A 15 minute walk, 5 situps, or try to eat vegetables at least once per day? Start tracking how often you eat sweets, and scale that down? Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator?
It's pretty amazing what the human body can do after a short period of hardcore training. But even if you never do some hardcore training, why not take some little measures so that your health will be better in six months than it's going to be if you don't? If you keep making little changes to your health, diet, move around, stretch, strengthen - just little tiny easy changes - you're going to have exceptional health in a couple years.
I know that's not as exciting on first glance as whatever the newest "ultimate hardcore get in shape in only 30 days" fad is, but consider - it's basically free. Add in 5, 10, 15 minutes of motion to your life. Swap one piece of cake each week for a fruit plate. Order a side order of vegetables with whatever else you eat. Take the stairs once this week. Little changes like this don't tax you, they're not particular hard, and they do add up. Fast, hardcore fitness might be good. But regardless of how hardcore you want to be, why not start slowly adding little improvements right now? Six-months-from-now you will be very grateful to today-you if you do this.
I prefer the Pareto approach; a heavy set of squats once a week makes you stronger than almost everyone - exceptions almost exclusively other squatters - at almost everything, takes about 5 minutes including the warmup. The key, of course, is to have the squat rack in your living room - okay, garage or basement for the married guys - not in a health club miles away. So for a minimum five minute per week investment you can stay flexible, solid and strong, and if you wish to do more the barbell is right there.
Great post. This is solid advice.
In addition to all the long-term benefits, by doing it this way you don't run the risk of burnout or falling back into unhealthy habits after finishing a temp exercise regime. Being healthy shouldn't be an end result, but instead should be more of a habit.
Also, as we now know, self control is exhaustible. Gradually changing your habits will help you live more healthily, and also allow you to use more self-control in other aspects of your life.
There's a wealth of information in Bruce Lee's book, "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do" - the first time I read it, I was impressed. Now, sometime later and with better training, I'm even more impressed. Little details and nuances stick out to me.
I'd like to do a larger post looking at his philosophy sometime, but for today I want to put down something very practical. That is, you can and should incorporate movement, motion, and a basic "training" into your everyday life, no matter who you are or what your goals are.
"To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are."
That's the quote that starts the "Preliminaries" section of his book. Personally, I believe your body and mind work in harmony, and that this is inescapable. If you wish to be a scientist, philosopher, writer, or any other academic pursuit, you still need to train your physical condition. Your thoughts will be clearer, more lucid. You will have more energy and less distress. All things being equal, you'll live longer, and the years will be of higher mobility and quality of life.
"Training is one of the most neglected phases of athletics. Too much time is given to the development of skill and too little to the development of the individual for participation. Training deals not with an object, but with the human spirit and human emotions. It takes intellect and judgment to handle such delicate qualities as these."
I'll start by saying that I have a lot of respect for Zen and mindfulness. I also have two cats and three litter boxes. So, how do these things fit together? I'm trying to infuse mindfulness into everyday events and I've noticed it's generally easier to feel peaceful and calm when I'm engaged in something I enjoy. The difficulty comes when I'm doing something less pleasant or even unpleasant. Cleaning the cats' litter box is one of those unpleasant tasks that needs to be done every day. If I skip a day it becomes even more unpleasant. I've worked on a way to make it feel less of a chore and more of something that when completed gives me a feeling of satisfaction and ease.
I use clumping litter and after I've scooped up all the mess into a plastic bag I use the little rake to smooth out the litter, kind of like a Zen garden. I try to do this with awareness and a sense of equanimity. When it's complete I can walk away knowing that it's done for today. It will be a mess again tomorrow but that's in the future.
It's a little like meditating itself. I don't always want to sit. Sometimes I make excuses or find myself so busy that I forget. If more than a day or two goes by I'll find my myself with a big mess. I get cranky and yell at my son. I'm more impatient in traffic. I don't follow through on other habits that help me stay mindful.When I finally do sit down to meditate I can't settle in easily. I have an itch that must be scratched. My mind wanders even farther than usual before I notice and bring it back to the present.
When I meditate every day the habit becomes easier. When it's done I can walk away with that same feeling of equanimity.
What helps you to be mindful every day?