Let’s get real for a moment!
I am sick of hearing people telling me how much fitter I look and that they would like to get to the gym more, but they don’t have time. Are they saying their lives are busier than mine? Do they believe I don’t work, go to church, spend time running around to my daughters’ events, go grocery shopping, make dinner, mop the floors, do repairs, volunteer in the community? It’s like, in some mysterious way, I am free of the responsibilities of a middle-aged adulting and have an abundance of spare time.
If only they had the amount of free time I do, they could go to the gym and be fit! I wish it were so, but unfortunately, I am just as busy as everyone else.
What it boils down to are priorities!
I choose my health and my fitness, but I didn’t always.
Realizing Fitness Must Be a Priority
I was an athlete in high school, a drinker in college, and an obese, drinking, desk jockey afterward. I spent my twenties gaining over a hundred pounds. That’s right; I said 100lbs.
And, just in case you missed it, let me repeat it–OVER ONE HUNDRED POUNDS! Eating fast food and pizza, and drinking pops and beers, and getting no exercise. And when I say no exercise, I mean doing zero activity, unless you want to count walking to the couch as a workout.
Get it? That’s a lot. My weight ballooned to 280lbs, and I was FAT–OBESE! I am still big and carry too much fat, but there’s a lot more useful mass than there used to be. Why? Simple, I choose my health. I decide to go to the gym; it is a priority.
I had to make it a priority because one day, I climbed to the top of my stairs, and I was out of breath. Wheezing and light-headed, I thought I was going to have the big one–a heart attack. I only climbed one damn flight of stairs, and I was only 40 something, and here I was getting ready to go face-to-face with the Big Guy!
Struggling to get to the top of the stairs was not the only sign.
Walking around the city with my family, going to a Purdue game, or tossing a ball with my daughters, things I enjoy, became laborious. They were difficult! I was heading the wrong way on a two-way track, and I had to turn around before I hit the end. If not, I was going to get there way too soon.
Oh, I almost forgot. I can’t count the number of times my wife asked me if I was alright because I was breathing so hard and loud she thought I was in trouble. I didn’t even hear it.
Just so that you know, I am not ready to meet the Big Guy. I have too much life to live, too many things to do, too many people to spend time with, and too much fun to have not to prioritize my health.
So, I choose the gym, and so should you.
Finding Your Reason to Prioritize Fitness
Here’s the deal before we start, when you see me, don’t tell me you don’t have time. Tell me it is not a priority, and I will believe you. If your health is not a priority, no skin off my back. But, it probably should be a little of yours.
You should prioritize your health over most other things. After all, don’t you need your health to do those things?
Let’s explore a few reasons that might pique your interest.
Before I dive in, I want you to know that I am not a theologian, so take what I say with a grain of salt. Also, I don’t care what faith you are or are not.
What I describe in this section comes from my experience reading studying various religions, and I found they all seem to have common threads–discipline and community.
They all seem to support the idea of being a disciplined individual for the betterment of the community.
Now, barring some health, genetic, or related issues, things outside of our scope of control, obesity is a result of over-indulging and a lack of work to support the increased caloric consumption. In my opinion, neither over-indulging or being lethargic supports discipline, and they do not make a better community.
So, faith is an excellent reason to prioritize fitness. As Mark Rippetoe says, ‘Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.’ Being fit allows us to be better contributors to our community, and it takes discipline to be fit.
If you are not going to prioritize the gym for yourself, your family is an excellent reason to get into shape. It is one of my main reasons for spending time working out. Being fit allows me to be a better participant and contributor to my family. I am no longer worried about walking up the stairs, and I enjoy the time we spend walking or doing other activities so much more. And, I am not as cranky and irritable as I used to be. Raking leaves or shoveling snow are no longer epic endeavors.
Do it for yourself! In the end, fitness has to become a selfish endeavor. You have to want all of the opportunities being fit has to offer. If not, it is hard to get off the couch and get moving. But once you do, it becomes easy to understand why it must be a priority.
Diversions to Your Fitness
“Every force has an equal and opposite force,” so says Newton Third Law of Motion. For every reason you find to prioritize the gym, there will be just as many reasons to abandon your plans.
Let’s take a look at a few of the possible diversions.
If you work fulltime, your job may take up to twenty-five percent or more of your week. If you subtract sleep from your available time, it is closer to forty percent. We work a lot, and after a long day at the job, it is easy to see why we feel we do not have time to get to the gym.
Nevertheless, if you work a 50-hour week and if you are one of the lucky few who can sleep 8-hours a night, you still have 62 hours of your week to find time for the gym.
Other than faith, my family is my top priority, and I am sure it is for most people. Just like a lot of you, I try to make my daughters’ events and attend our families’ functions. I schedule part of the day to do some maintenance around the house. Along with this, I like to cook dinner, even though this doesn’t happen every day. It’s easy to put off going to the gym with all of these family responsibilities. They take a lot of time, or do they?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend roughly 32 hours a week on what I would consider family activities. If we deduct this from our 62 free hours, we still have 30 hours left in a week to go to the gym. Meeting our familial responsibilities is essential, and should be a top priority, but we cannot use it as an excuse not to go to the gym.
Volunteering and Social Activities
First, I think supporting our communities by volunteering is a noble endeavor. However, I feel it’s not as high of a priority as our health. With that said, Americans do not spend much volunteering. On average, we volunteer around 1 hour a week. Enough said!
Media Consumption (TV, Social-Media, etc.)
I saved the best for last.
Without a doubt, media consumption is the most devasting diversion to fitness. According to Statista and backed by several other sources, Americans spend ten plus hours a day consuming media, If we are up 16 to 18 hours a day, how can we work 8 hours, spend over 4 hours in household activities, and consume 10 hours of media? Simple, we are either consuming media during the times we are supposed to be working, or we spend an abundance of our non-working days watching tv or playing on our phones. Probably both!
So, if we are spending over 70 hours a week consuming media, can’t we go to the gym for an hour a day instead? I did. Getting away from the tv was how I started to prioritize my fitness. I began by walking on a treadmill for thirty minutes and my fitness journey escalated from there.
Reducing the number of hours spent consuming media is the best way to find the time to prioritize fitness.
Ways to Prioritize Fitness
I used the term “get to the gym” often in this article. What I mean is to perform physical work that will use your muscles and burn extra calories. You can accomplish this in a variety of ways.
I started my journey by walking thirty minutes on a treadmill every night instead of watching TV. We purchased it years before, so I pulled it out of storage and set it up in a spare room and started walking. I felt the results immediately, and over time I adventured into strength training.
If you have a treadmill, a stationary bike, or some other form of cardio equipment, schedule a few minutes a day to utilize it. If not, use a better option and always available option, get outside and go for a walk or a run.
Calisthenics, push-ups, pull-ups, air squats, burpees, etc.., are a great way to prioritize your fitness. They require minimal space and no equipment.
CrossFit is a lifestyle that emphasis safe, effective exercise and healthy nutrition choices. You can use CrossFit programming to improve performance or lose weight. Often, a community develops around CrossFit, and you can practice it in garage gyms, outside, or at a standard CrossFit box under a certified CrossFit coach.
Many of our daily workouts are programmed similar to this style.
As you can see, “not having enough time” is saying, “I do not prioritize fitness,” because as we have demonstrated, there are plenty of hours in the week to get prioritize fitness. It only takes a choice. Instead of consuming media, do thirty minutes of calisthenics, and you will be on your way to becoming fitter.