Friday, August 21, 2015

Fitness-for-Busy-People Articles Blow

One of the things I really hate about just about all fitness writing is that it just isn't realistic for Regular Guys. Even stuff that's written specifically for busy people makes me roll my eyes. Surely you've seen articles like this. And this, this and this. And this, this, this and this.

Work out on your lunch hour. Get up an hour earlier. Just turn off the TV in the evening. Make your time at the gym more efficient. Get a standing desk. Do this 20-minute workout. Blah blah blah blah blah.

Let's Get Real
Most of the Regular Guys I know are stretching it just to get in the exercise they do. 
  • I know multiple people who get up by 4:30 a.m. to fit in their workouts. They are sacrificing sleep -- it's just math. And your body needs rest as much as it does activity.
  • If you're not working through lunch, do you really have time to change, exercise, shower, dress AND get something to eat at your desk? 
  • Oh, how Americans waste so much time in front of the boob tube, right? If you just used that time more productively... I seriously don't know anyone who spends hours a day watching TV. I have specific programs on my DVR, and that's it. And I watch them usually between 9:00 and bedtime -- when the gym is closed.
  • Bike to work. On the New Jersey Turnpike? Through the Lincoln Tunnel? Even if you have a reasonable route, can you show up all sweaty and gross? And what about bad weather?
  • Yeah, there are guys who just sit there for two or three minutes before a set of five lifts. But look around -- there are a lot more who are moving quickly to get everything done. Sure, something is better than nothing, but exercise can't be rushed, in my opinion. For me to get done enough reps and sets of enough lifts, it takes an hour or so. There's no getting around it.
  • And sure, just go in and ask your boss to drop a grand on a new desk for you to stand at. Let me know how that goes over.
But here's the thing: Your body doesn't care about all that.

And you know that. The problem is, all those "how to fit fitness into a busy lifestyle" articles leave you feeling like it's a matter of motivation -- or lack thereof. Even busy people find time, so you're just lazy. Right?

Of course not. So what do we do about it?

Priorities, Priorities, Priorities
I hate to say this guys, but it comes down to priorities.

I don't want you to walk away from this piece thinking that your priorities are out of whack -- or even that I'm trying to tell you so. There are only 24 hours in a day, and there's simply no way for you to accomplish of the things you'd like to every day. So some things go to the top of the list, and some things get pushed down. You have to bring home a paycheck. You have to make sure your family is healthy and happy. You have keep your home clean and in good repair. You can't ignore your wife or significant other. I'm sure you can add plenty more.

But where do you fall on the list?

The biggest piece of advice I can offer here is that your health should be in the "have to" portion of the list, not the "want to" portion. Being fit enough to keep up with your kids isn't a luxury. Staying alive to see them graduate college and give you grandkids isn't, either. Going to the gym isn't the same as going to a ballgame. Spending a couple extra bucks on healthier food isn't the same as springing for craft beer over macro-produced swill.

You're not a jerk for wanting to be healthy.

There's me 45 pounds ago, scarfing burgers and fries!
But I would also urge you to take a critical look at all the various aspects of your life. For example, during some corporate restructuring years ago, I was thrust into a position of more responsibility at work. And for four years, I put on 10 pounds a year. But the additional hours and extra stress weren't actually moving the needle -- I'm second in command to my boss, and unless one of us quits, that's where I'm going to stay. So when I decided to get healthy, I made a value judgment to dial back work to hectic instead of crazy, and use that time for exercise. Or as I put it to my boss: "I gave you 40 pounds over the past four years, and now I'm taking them back."

Now I'm not telling you to march into your boss's office and demand scheduling flexibility just so you can go to the gym. I'm not suggesting you hand your screaming kids to your wife and take off on a 10-mile run. What I'm saying is that whatever you're prioritizing over your health should be worth it -- and that you should give it some real thought. Maybe you'll come to the conclusion that your priorities really are where they need to be. Or maybe you'll have a Eureka moment like I did.

Short version: The things you spend your time on should be the things that are most important to you.

Your Life Should Match Your Priority List

Don't beat yourself up over things you can't change. That negative energy will just make everything worse. Nobody's life is perfect. There's nothing wrong with your priorities. Just be sure your actions actually match them. And if they don't, it's time to figure out how to change your life.

Where does keeping fit and healthy fall on your priority list? And what other fitness writing drives you bonkers? Sound off in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter.

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