As I am writing this, rain is pouring down the windows. The sky is pitch black and the clock shows me it’s ten past eleven. I can tell from the sound of the wind blowing that it’s cold outside. It’s a tempting idea: drink a cup of tea and go to bed. Or play video games. But I won’t. I’ve promised myself that I’m going to run, so I will. If you’ve read Educate, Create, and Demonstrate, you know how important it is to maintain your system and to kill excuses. So what about you? Will you be exercising today? Or tomorrow? And if not, what’s your excuse for wasting opportunities?
Until a couple of months ago, I had a million excuses at my disposal to stop myself from going to a gym or buying running shoes. I suppose I still have them, somewhere, but the difference is they are pretty dusty now. And that’s perfect. Don’t get the impression that inertia never shows its face. Yet when it does, it gets kicked in the eye with a running shoe or a shin. And let me be honest with you: I never was (and still do not consider myself) a ‘real sportsman’. At least not like people who say it’s in their nature. There was no motivation to exercise. But I managed to turn it around for the good.
In Back in the Dojo: Kickboxing, I wrote that martial arts are for a great deal a mental exercise. This is true for almost every sport, as it requires a mental state of perseverance to succeed in sports. And let’s not forget food: it demands steadfastness not to click on that fast food delivery company’s website, or to enter a McDonalds or Burger King ‘restaurant’ when you’re craving a greasy hamburger. If you have these cravings, it’s hard to resist or even lose them. But you have to. And you can. I’m reminded of that every time I choose to walk past and eat something healthy instead.
Before I started writing this sentence, I went running. A little more than 4 km, which is about 2.8 miles. It took me 22.24, which is still not as good as before I got the flu and the holidays came. But you know what, I may be working to achieve goals, but I also learned to appreciate running for itself. And at least I went. This has not always been the case. I hated it. I despised it. But then my fondness of it grew. How? By just doing it. By going out, and just moving my feet. Also, by realizing that it offers time to think. Actually, the second half of this blog post already existed before I got home.
It’s the same with the food. First I ate a lot of processed foods, candy, and other junk, since that was easy and convenient. But I slowly came to appreciate a diet that contains more fresh vegetables, fish, and nuts. How? Again, by doing it. By just eating it, even when the taste wasn’t directly what I preferred. Now, there are many dishes that I enjoy, but didn’t like a few years ago. To refer to Educate, Create, and Demonstratre once more: the ‘system’ is internalized. And There is no reason to claim the junk is completely gone. But my current preference is a diet more balanced.
More balance, that’s an aim worth pursuing. Along my running route is a fastfood restaurant and there’s a bar across the street. They remind me of the fact that I could be wasting my time on a bar stool, intentionally blurring my consciousness, or eating junk food more than occasionally. And although I can understand it’s fun to do sometimes, I’ve also come to realize that I want to take good care of my mind and body. And for me, that means far more vegetables than junk food. Preferably far more proteins than carbohydrates. And it also means far more exercising than going to bars.
With regard to sports, I have three goals. First, I want to run 4km in under 20 minutes. Second, I want to reach a weight of 85 kg (187 lbs), coming from 92kg (202 lbs). Third, and that will be the most important as it will make the other two feasible, I want to train at least three times a week. This can mean kickboxing, or running, but also push-ups and crunches. That’s something you should not forget when you’re anxious about going out on the streets or to a gym to work-out: much can be done at home. Or in nature, like Dan Pedersen does, Exercising there makes you feel better:
The point is clear; there isn’t much needed to get started. You have your own body to start with. And most excuses come with a stronger rebuttal. But let’s not pretend our basic attitude is rational. Yes, we claim we’re rational beings. But still, many people are afraid of tiredness, but not of clogged arteries. People are afraid of getting injuries from exercising, but they are not afraid of a heart attack. People are afraid of tasting something they probably won’t like, but they are not afraid of getting overweight. In all cases, the consequences of the latter are more severe and permanent, but feared less.
Don’t let fear stop you from going to a gym. Everyone knows what it feels like to go for the first time and the growing pains that come with the beginning. You could also do what I do: run at night. There will be less traffic, but you will maybe meet other runners who are facing the same struggles that come with growth. Visit a dojo and experience the atmosphere. If the sensei is a good sensei, (s)he’ll make you feel comfortable and persuade you to join class. Just find yourself the sport you like. And remember, there are always more sports than excuses for not doing any of them at all.