I failed to achieve my six-pack abs AGAIN this summer. But maybe because I didn’t really think about about how my stomach looked until I was already at the beach! Why did I suddenly have this extra blob of fat hanging over my board-shorts?
I’m 37 years-old and for most of my life I’ve been genetically blessed in such a way that I could eat whatever I want. I did little to no exercise and somehow managed to still look lean. I was that annoying person who slathered whipped cream over his bowl of frosted flakes every morning and never gained an ounce. As a result, I never developed good fitness habits.
I hate exercising and I never got into sports. I saw myself as a musician, an intellectual and a meditator — certainly not a jock or a gym rat. But over the last few years, it’s become obvious to me that I need to change my assumptions and behaviors about fitness.
There is no contradiction between being a smart, spiritually-attuned, creative person and being fit. I’ve probably been short-changing myself by having such a bad attitude towards fitness, but I’m getting better.
Here is my daily checklist to get over biases and procrastination about fitness and start moving your body:
1. Do 10 super-lousy pushups with really bad form right now.
Exercise experts are cringing, but hear me out.
The trick to changing a habit is to just get started. You can’t let perfection be your #1 enemy! So if you are insecure that you can’t do a proper pushup, try lowering to your knees first while you build up arm strength. If your arms are weak or your shoulders are sore, try 10 squats or 10 situps instead. Don’t worry about doing them poorly, because no one is watching. Go ahead, do it now. I’ll wait.
2. Do the same set of exercises tomorrow that you did today.
If you want to change your life, you only need to change ONE thing — it’s that simple. The catch is that you need to repeat that one thing each and every day for lasting change.
You might be wondering, isn’t there some sort of complex formula for exercising the upper and lower body on alternate days? Don't I need to drink a special blend of creatine and amino acids within thirty minutes of finishing exercise?
Let's worry about that formula later. For now, we just have to begin to teach ourselves to love this hateful activity.
3. Embrace the idea of doing a little bit and then building on that success.
We all know that New Year’s resolutions hardly ever work. So if you would rather make a sustainable change in your life, start small and work up to the big change later. If you start doing ten lousy pushups every day, then by next January, you might actually be ready to do more and stick with it in the long run.
4. Let go of how you want to look and focus on how you want to move and feel.
One aspect of the fitness world that I always find disheartening is the obsession with looking inhumanly perfect, or like some idealised hot celebrity.
Try asking yourself instead: How would I like to move, play and have fun?
I’d like to be able to dance for hours, do awesome handstands, have great sex without getting tired, surf big waves and have more energy to play with my kids. So I’m pretty sure that with consistent exercise I can achieve all of these things! In the end it’s less likely that I’ll look like Chris Hemsworth when I take my shirt off, but ultimately, I’m okay with that.
5. Move for your body, not someone else’s body.
This is the big lesson I learned from Michael Taylor. I have long lanky arms, and double-jointed elbows and knees that sometimes act up when I run long distances. There is no such thing as perfect form and you should learn and become aware of your own body’s range of movement, flexibility and strength, and move with ease. This is also a great way to avoid injury.
6. Eat more vegetables!
There is so much controversy about the right diet for optimum health and fitness and it seems like the rules are constantly changing. So I’ve broken each diet down for you to make it easy:
Low carb: Don’t eat sugar or bread and eat more vegetables.
Paleo: Eat tons of meat, don’t eat grains and eat more vegetables.
Calorie counting: Don’t eat too much crap and eat more vegetables.
Mediterranean: Eat more vegetables, olive oil and occasionally fish
Macrobiotic: Eat more vegetables and grains, avoiding animal products and processed foods.
Ayurveda: Eat more vegetables in accordance to your Dosha.
Vegan: Eat more vegetables and then even more vegetables.
I happen to know really healthy and fit people who follow ALL of these diets, based on what works best for them. The truth is that they are all variants of the “eat more vegetables” diet, which in my opinion, is the only diet that has ever been proven to really work.
7. Once you start to feel good doing minimal exercise, expand on that.
It turns out that some of these fitness experts actually know what they’re talking about. Who knew? If you want a great place to start I recommend Krista Stryker’s app “12-Minute Athlete” for doing high-intensity impact training (HIIT).
There are many workouts that are scientifically proven to be super effective that can only take 12 minutes or less! I still hate doing them but I’m beginning to fall in love with the feeling I have afterwards.
That’s it for now, folks. I’ll see you in the spandex aisle!