At the beginning of the year I made a small change in my life. I started going to the gym — something I’ve never done before — four times a week. I’ve kept count of each day I’ve gone since I started on January 23rd.
Today is Day 100.
I don’t have a goal weight or size. I don’t really care about that. With plateaus and basic physiology being what they are, those numbers will fluctuate in very frustrating ways. I was a skinny kid. I’m a hefty man. It is what it is. I’m certainly not training for a marathon. Or crossing fit. I’m unconcerned with how much weight I can or can’t move, whether it’s free, machine or manblubber.
What I do instead is simply focus on one number — the number of days I’ve exercised. By keeping that single count, I’m following a numerical benchmark that will always change in a positive direction. It will always trend upward. One morning at the gym equals +1. That’s it. That’s all I need.
The gym I go to is Planet Fitness. I walk a mile to get there, move some heavy things, and then walk the mile back home. Four days a week. Way back on the first day, I said to Demetri and Anna, the two people getting me started, that “this is day one.” They looked at me like I was crazy. For the next few weeks I would tell them my number each time I worked out and they’d smile politely and say “way to go!” Now they ask me. Now they remind me. They mean it, too. That’s a big deal to me. If I was some kind of athlete, I’d endorse Planet Fitness.
But I’m not an athlete. I’m the slob who, for 53 years, kept telling himself that one day he’d try to get into some sort of shape. What can I tell you? I’m a late bloomer. So, what happened? The one thing that made the difference for me was reading a book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg. In it he describes how habits are born — and how they are made — by understanding the three elements of habit: cue, routine, and reward.
So, I created a nightly cue: setting my alarm and changing over the daily workout cards on my gym fob for the next day. I created a routine: get up at 5-ish, eat a disgusting protein bar, grab a jug of water, walk to the gym, and move some heavy things around. And I created a reward: write down the brand new, one higher gym day number in my journal. Jotting down that number is often the only reason I do it. Apparently that’s the reward I’ve needed.
I’m not posting this to brag. I mean, jeez, look at me. What I’m doing is really easy. I’m posting it because I’m an incredibly lazy and not-particularly-healthy person. And six months ago I would never have imagined that I’d “work out” 100 times in my lifetime. It still feels weird to even say it. Maybe reading about it is all it’ll take for someone else to do a thing they want to do. That’d be cool.
All I know is, if I so much as tied my shoes back in December, I’d need to rest for a few minutes afterward. I started to imagine keeling over at my desk at work and the EMTs ripping open my shirt and using those paddles to restart my heart. I figured the smell of burning chest hair would be pungent. I work with a bunch of healthy people. I can’t do that to them. Also, I’m really fond of my family and reckon it’ll be pretty interesting to see how they turn out. So, I’m sticking around. And in the looming, chaotic tribal wars that all the preppers are prepping for, I don’t want to be the first person who gets eaten.
I’m thinking ahead, guys. That’s all I’m saying.
But I’ll add this. You’re perfect the way you are. And I think you’re awesome. But, if there’s something that you want to do, or need to do, I was your last excuse. You should probably just freaking do it. Also, keep count of how many times you do it.
And let me know when you reach 100.
© 2017 ChrisHenSongs