A funny thing happens when people find out that I’m a trainer. After making a sheepish confession that they’re not working out as often as they’d like (which is almost always related to an injury or work or a work-related injury), they ask me for advice.
I need to get back in shape — what should I do??
This is funny for two reasons:
- It appears that a great many of us were, at one time or another, in impeccable shape until life got in the way. Being healthy and fit while living a productive and fulfilling life seems to be mutually exclusive for a lot of us. Either you live in the gym or you walk around fat and weak and in all sorts of pain.
- The health and fitness industry has grown into a billion-dollar enterprise in part by shrouding its very basic principles behind a veil of secrecy, as if only a select few are privy this life-changing information. As a result, people don’t know what to do to get into basic shape.
You want to get into shape? A good place to start is by going to the gym and lifting weights.
I’d like to get to the gym more often, I just don’t have the time!
One of my favourite novels is John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces. Like all great works of fiction, it’s intelligent, original, funny as hell, and most importantly, wise. Its general theme is our endless search for meaning and happiness. I’ve learned many lessons from this book; one passage in particular has played a large role in shaping my perspective on what business-folk refer to as Work/Life Balance:
A frozen orange juice can came flying out of one of the windows and barely missed me. I stooped over and picked it up in order to inspect the empty tin cylinder for a communication of some sort, but only a viscous residue of concentrated juice trickled out on my hand. Was this some obscene message? While I was pondering the matter and staring up at the window from which the can had been hurled, an old vagrant approached the wagon and pleaded for a frankfurter. Grudgingly I sold him one, ruefully concluding that, as always, work was interfering at a crucial moment.
In the above, our hero (obese, mustachioed hot dog salesman/philosopher Ignatius J. Reilly) stumbles upon what he believes to be a sign of sorts, a potential clue in his life’s mission, but as he’s mulling over the situation he is beckoned back to work. Something is always getting in poor Ignatius’s way. His mother, his job, the feeble-minded townies whose collective ignorance blinds them to his true genius. If only he had time to himself, things would be different then!
How many times has work prevented you from pursuing your dreams? Or, rather, how many times have you BLAMED work for preventing you from pursuing your dreams? It’s funny how work never seems to get in the way of updating Facebook or setting our fantasy football rosters or binge-watching entire seasons on Netflix. We’re always able to find time to hit the liquor store and grab take-out on the way home, but no way can we fit 20 minutes of simple stretching into our busy schedule.
I’d like to hit the gym, but…
Generally speaking, whenever there’s a “but” in a sentence, everything that comes before it is bullshit. If you want to go to the gym, you will find a way to get to the gym. If you want to write a book, you will MAKE time to write that book. If something truly matters, you will find a way to get it done. Think of all the incredible things that have been accomplished since the dawn of time. Cities have been built; battles have been won; diseases cured; atoms split — all by people whom, I’m guessing, had a bunch of other responsibilities. If something truly matters, you will make time for it no matter what.
Stop using your job or your family as an excuse for your inability to act. The life you want is there if you want it. The questions is, what will you sacrifice to make your dreams come true? It could mean waking up an hour earlier each day. It could mean swallowing your pride and asking for help. There’s a solution to nearly every problem, you simply have to put in the time and energy. Nothing worthwhile comes for free, or as a great man once said: you’ve gotta pay the cost to be the boss.
How much are you willing to spend?