Fitness is Adventure

Fitness Adventure Monday

By now most of us have totally jacked our new years resolutions. Yes, yes, and most of us have kicked those effers right out to the curb.

I’m dedicated to an adventure lifestyle, which I have become much more recently aware, requires a certain amount of fitness. In fact, the recent NCAA conference just highlighted Designed To Move, a website collecting research and education on the cost of our national sedentary lifestyle: 5 years off our kids’ lives.

So I worked my ass off last year to eating a better diet and more reasonable portions as well as being more active. I lost about 15 pounds and became much more mindful of the way I was leading my life. This year, I’ve set benchmarks for myself that look like the #ProTip shared by my friend Uber on (left): drinking water, working out, healthy eating, sleeping well. There’s been more than enough research to support these as basic to a healthy lifestyle.

Speaking to those of us who’ve already fallen flat on our faces so far this year, Jason Zook wrote “This year think reinvention, not resolution.

“…make sure you break it down into bite-size changes. Small, actionable tasks can lead to huge, victorious successes”.

This reminded me of the 3 Simple Rules of fitness that seem very reasonable and actionable to me. I edited them after reading Kevan Lee‘s “Happiness Hacks.” He recommended saying “I don’t”, which is twice more likely to predict success than “no,” and 8 times more likely to predict success than “I can’t.” So my reinvention follows:

  • I don’t go 3 days without exercise
  • I don’t miss a Monday
  • I don’t give up

There are a few other take-homes from Lee’s happiness hacks.

  1. Don’t pretend you’re going to like it.
    Psychological well-being is apparently improved by “accepting [your] wide-range of feelings and working toward improvement,” writes Lee. An evangelical minister named Bill Rice used to say, “We all serve God with mixed emotions.” We all approach reverence for our bodies with conflicting motivations. God, I hate the elliptical! I want that damned donut. That’s okay. I’ve accepted I’m not in love with my stand-up desk. But I’m gonna use it.
  2. What challenges you now is an investment in happiness later.
    Lee reported on a study that found people became less happy while involved in activities that improved their competency, autonomy, or socialization, but within hours to days they became happier as result. I regressed over the holidays. I love food. I have very little self control when family is shoving spinach balls in my face. So I haven’t consulted the oracle on the bathroom floor, but I’m pretty sure I gained 10 of the 15 back. But I remember how much better I felt. That motivates me.
  3. Don’t stop starting over.
    Two of Lee’s points were “celebrate strengths, recognize weaknesses” and “prepare for the worst, hope for the best.” This reminded me of research showing people in treatment for substance abuse regress on average 7 times before recovering. This was impetus for the anti-smoking campaign you may have seen that said, “Never quit quitting.” So I hit it hard on Monday with my family. Hit it again today. If I tank on Friday–and I don’t intend to–I’ll start over on Monday.
  4. Be Realistic; Just Enjoy Feeling Better.
    The last study in Lee’s post found that people were more grounded in their expectations performed better than people who imagined fantastic results. I have found that I am much more likely to exercise when I focus on how I feel better than I did when I didn’t consistently exercise. I’m never going to have a stomach as flat as the person in the picture, but that’s not why I do it. I do it to enjoy living my life.

But 3 simple rules don’t stop there. I find they’re more broadly applicable than just to a healthy lifestyle. It’s an active lifestyle, and that doesn’t end with exercise. A truly active lifestyle includes your family, friends, vocation, dreams. Trying to be more present at home? Making an effort to reach out more consistently to family and friends? Having difficulty engaging at work? Beginning to doubt that life change was ever going to be a reality? I am finding those 3 rules are still a standard:

  • Don’t go 3 days without engaging.
  • Don’t miss a Monday; start the week off right.
  • Don’t give up. As soon as you realize you’ve failed, begin again.

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