There are forces all around us that pull us into the vortex of mediocrity and slothfulness. I call this tendency The Boiled Frog Syndrome. Most of you have heard about this metaphor. The short version is that if a healthy frog is dropped in a pot of boiling water, that frog with take immediate, decisive action to escape the cauldron. But if that same frog had been placed in room temperature water, that frog would say put – even if that pot of tepid water was placed on a heat source that gradually, imperceptibly moved towards the boiling point. The reason is because gradual erosion is all around us, and it can affect our physical life, our mental life, our spiritual life, our financial life, our social life, etc.
Let’s focus on the physical. Look closely at the photo above that accompanies this article. I took that photo myself this week just outside of WalMart. The poor guy has a serious medical condition afflicting his left lower leg. I cannot diagnose him as I’m not his doctor but from what I see I worry that he may be facing amputation if he is not careful.
Our physical bodies are like a machine. Consequently, our physical bodies need care and maintenance and if we don’t give our bodies what they need in terms of nutrition, rest, sleep, and various types of exercise, our bodies will break down, especially as we age. Injury and illness will be our lot, and the overall quality of life will be wanting. Even if we are financially independent. Even if we have a rich social life. Even if we enjoy engaging intellectual endeavors. Even if we experience meaningful brushes with the holy.
I propose 4 principles/practices that you can implement immediately if you need to get back on track in your quest to enjoy optimal health.
First, you have to overcome your demons. This is a mental game. You have to go deep inside and contemplate questions such as the following:
Second, you need to sketch out a plan. Taking all of those possibilities from the previous bullet, and/or any other ideas that you may come up with, sketch out a reasonable map of what your fitness plan could consist of. For example, let’s say you will lift weights, specifically a lift called Bench Press. You might decide you will only do Bench Press on Monday and Thursday each week. You also might decide that once you are able to complete 5 sets of 5 reps at a certain weight, you will, at your next workout, move up to the next heavier weight amount for the barbell you’ll be lifting. Your workout plan might resemble something like this short excerpt:
September 25: 5 sets of 4 reps at 125 pounds
September 28: 3 sets of 5 reps at 125 pounds
October 2: 4 sets of 5 reps at 125 pounds
October 5: 5 sets of 5 reps at 125 pounds
October 9: 3 sets of 3 reps at 130 pounds
October 12: 4 sets of 3 reps at 130 pounds
October 16: 5 sets of 3 reps at 130 pounds
October 19: 3 sets of 4 reps at 130 pounds
October 23: 4 sets of 4 reps at 130 pounds
October 26: 5 sets of 4 reps at 130 pounds
October 30: 3 sets of 5 reps at 130 pounds
And the pattern continues.
By the way, did you know that if you kept up this pace throughout 2023 and 2024, by the end of 2024 you’d be working out on the Bench Press with 195 pounds?! I know this is possible because I have done it – relatively recently. Not bad for a 60-something-year-old man. Consistent effort leads to impressive outcomes.
You can do the same sort of thing with any aspect of your fitness plan, whether it involves flexibility, cardio-vascular work, or any other dimension of fitness.
Third, you need to carve out time to exercise. Make it an appointment. Put it in your calendar, whether it’s a 30 minute window of time, 60 minutes, or longer. You wouldn’t just fail to show up for an actual appointment, would you? I doubt it. Well, make this an appointment with yourself. And keep that appointment.
Fourth, on a weekly basis, you should review your performance. Note the progress you have made. Note any missed appointments and face up to why the appointment was missed. Then recalibrate your priorities. Make exercise sacrosanct. Make it something you commit to.
Follow these four steps and you will reap many benefits: few encounters with disease; fewer injuries; greater energy; better sleep; and a more alert mind.
I have more I could say on this subject, but it’s 2:30 PM sharp as I type this and I need to keep my own commitment and get in the gym right now!
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