Welcome back to the End Average Fundamentals series! If you are new to this, please begin reading the series from the beginning by clicking HERE. Although the messages work on their own, there will be more context for you if you follow them in sequence. Make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter and I’ll send these directly to you so that you never miss a new post. You can sign up right on the EndAverage.com homepage. Now let’s get right to it.
I’m back, and once again I’m going to be preaching to the choir because you already know what we’re about to talk about. That’s just it, though. We know we’re supposed to avoid being sedentary. We understand the implications of letting ourselves slip by for another year without using that gym membership. But, it’s a grind. Who has the time? And even worse, last time I got on a health kick I didn’t see enough change and it was frustrating. Now, I am sensitive to the fact that there are many diseases and conditions that are out of our control, and I do not mean to offend you if that is something you or a loved one are facing. I’m talking about focusing on the things that we can control… preventable health problems. The goal here is to find the correct amount of activity and exercise so that I will be physically fit, mentally sharp, and free from preventable diseases. I want to play hard with my great grandchildren!
Keeping physical activity a constant in my life is a tug-of-war between my brain and my willpower. For eight years it was built into my life while I was in the Army, but once I got out and didn’t have anyone expecting me to be ready to run at 5:30am, I was quick to let that discipline slide. I had really good excuses, too! I had some lingering injuries in my knee, hips and back, my new job kept me really busy, I had a newborn and a toddler, blah, blah, blah. I was really good at justifying it, but a nagging piece of my conscience knew I was slacking off. I’m going to lay out the case that I had to process in my brain to help me pull my exercise clothes back out of the bottom drawer. Hopefully this will resonate with you, too.
The dangers of being sedentary
I have spent years in the medical industry, directly in contact with hospital departments where people are diagnosed and set up on treatments paths. You want to know the common thread that ties together up to 90% of the diagnoses that happen in those departments?
Here it is: this ailment was preventable.
A lot of great things have happened as our society developed, but creating a system that increasingly reduces the amount of physical activity we need on a daily basis has had some critical effects. Do a quick google for “top ten health issues” and just about every one of the things on the list is preventable. Take this a step further and almost every one of the items listed will have a line that says “to reduce your risk of this control your diet and exercise”. These are real problems that people are dying from every day! The last post in this series was about the fact that food is the single most controllable factor for our health. Physical activity is a close second when talking about the reversal and prevention of obesity, hypertension, type two diabetes, heart disease, stroke, many cancers, do we need to go on? The point I’m making here is simple and I hope this isn’t coming as a surprise. You control this. Getting a diagnosis from your doctor for a preventable disease makes you a victim of your own habits. The cumulative effect of poor diet and exercise catches up to people in different ways, but I’ve never heard anyone complain that they wished they’d spent less time taking care of themselves.
It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy NOT to do
The concept of motivation is studied and taught in many ways, but I like to reduce it to a simple truth. Maintaining motivation to do any of the growth habits taught on End Average is a matter of vision. If you have vision in your life you can see that everything we do is a chance to get us closer to being the person that God intends us to be. We will never be perfect and we can’t compare ourselves to others, but we should continuously improve and compare ourselves to the person we were yesterday. Every decision we make gets us closer to, or further away, from the person in the vision. Physical activity and exercise is a perfect example of this. If you go for a walk once you won’t see any results. In fact, if it’s been a while you might be sore. Force yourself to do this every day for a week and you will be proud of yourself, for sure! What happens when you go for a walk every day for a few weeks or months? Now you’ve begun to create a habit. The habit is the key here, because you start to remove the willpower element. By training your brain that consistent progress is the normal state then it becomes a whole lot easier to face down the excuses that pop up when your alarm goes off in the morning. The end result is that your normal day just includes this healthy element and you don’t really have to think about it, you just do it.
What happens when you miss brushing your teeth once? Almost nothing. What happens when you don’t brush your teeth for a week? People scoot their chair a little further away from you. What happens if you ignore dental hygiene for a year? You’ve got serious problems. It’s common sense to be in the habit of brushing your teeth. Exercise and activity habits are the exact same thing. It’s easy to do that habit daily, but it’s also easy not to do it because you don’t see the results right away. Consistency over time creates success.
Where to start
This is the fun part! Once you’ve made up your mind, and I would like to think that it’s made up by now, it’s time to make an action plan. Everyone has a different situation so there is no single right answer when it comes to getting and staying in shape. The end result here is to have a habit of maintaining a healthy body weight, a steady cardio routine, and a level of health that allows your body to function properly as you age. Maintenance is far easier than undoing problems. If you’ve let yourself go for a long time there will be a catch-up period where you have to take extra time to lose weight and regain health. It will be more difficult to start, but once you get to the maintenance phase you’ll have something to be extremely proud of.
Next time we will talk about a very practical maintenance routine that incorporates the fundamentals of activity and exercise. I’ll bring some suggestions that will help you incorporate a little extra activity into the daily things you are already doing. Remember that we’re not making it a goal to become Rambo strong, this is all about getting back to the baseline that allows our body to function as it was designed. While a passion for fitness might arise, the goal here is to achieve health and balance that is sustainable longterm.
Average behavior is to postpone and make excuses. The result of that average behavior is that preventable problems cause pain and misery.
Let’s end average together.