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."
Almost everyone I know is busy as hell. Running companies, contracting, doing creative work, and keeping a huge mix of projects going on.
Keeping busy is good, but sometimes it turns into a tragedy where you've got your head down doing work and duties, but you never get some of that real juice out of your life that you're wanting.
And many of the busy people I know -- myself included -- periodically have a day where they snap back to reality and really feel it for the first time in a while. "Oh god, I'm out of shape, my energy is low, I feel like crap, I'm not doing some of the key projects I love, I'm passing up a lot of really big opportunities stuck in the grind, I'm neglecting my hobbies and what I want to train... and for what?"
This applies just as much to entrepreneurs as people on salary, maybe even moreso. It's very easy as an entrepreneur or executive to get caught up in running around, getting stuck in the "errands" of business, dealing with what's on fire, and really neglecting the really expansionary projects that aren't urgent, your health, and maybe worst of all -- forgetting to have fun.
Is there an answer? Read on...