I try hard every day to be my best self, to do the right things, and make the decisions that move me towards my goals. I don’t always succeed but I have more productive days than unproductive days. When I put in daily practice of being my best self I find that it gets easier and easier to have more productive days.
I am always on the lookout for strategies and tactics that can help me be more productive in less time. I want to be as efficient as possible. I am beginning to crystallize a life strategy that is becoming one of the three pillars of my life. Exercise, specifically triathlons and lifting weights. The other two are family and career.
Creating a consistent exercise habit is hard. It’s hard for most everybody. It’s hard for me too, but it is so important. We hear all the time about the importance of exercise. But it is one of those statements that usually doesn’t have much meaning beyond something we “should” do.
In the last 6 months however there has been a shift in my mindset. I have begun to deeply internalize the importance of exercise and what it can do for all aspects of my life. It is becoming the main keystone habit in my life.
The true benefits of exercise are far reaching. We know it makes us fitter, skinnier, and a better athlete. There are also many mental benefits that are just as critical if not more so than the physical benefits. The book Spark by John J. Ratey dives deep into what an increased heart rate can do for our mental faculties. To give you an extreme summary, exercise is the single greatest mechanism to improve thinking, stave off mental health issues, improve mood, improve motivation, and become successful in your career. There may not be anything more important in our lives.
I can attest to most of these things. My new exercise schedule has had noticeable, and drastic effects on my life. I am happier, I think sharper, I am motivated to get more done at work and around the house, I am excited to get my day going every morning.
I have never ever been a morning person. But since I have been working out and doing major cardio workouts, I haven’t slept in once. I fly out of bed as soon as my eyes open. The motivation is a self fulfilling prophecy. The more I exercise the more I want to exercise.
So, what do I do specifically? I run triathlons and I lift. I sign up for races throughout the summer to give me even more motivation to stay on schedule. When you pay for a race and are registered it forces you to keep up on the training so you can perform on race day.
I usually workout about 5 times per week. Most days I lift weights and do my cardio workout right after. Some days I just do my cardio workout. I mix up the cardio workout with hard intervals somedays and longer, lower intensity work other days. When I lift I follow a schedule of Chest and Triceps one day, Back and Biceps one day, Shoulders one day, then Legs one day, and a rest day follows.
I’m sure this article sounds to you like every other article about exercising you have ever read. It’s probably not even that compelling. The reason is because articulating the change that happened in my thought process is extremely hard to explain. It is almost a fear of what could happen from years of not exercising. I am so scared of sitting at my desk for the next 30 years that I have deeply internalized the potential negative consequences. And I want to avoid these consequences at all costs.
So, if you can take away one thing today. Try to internalize the importance of an elevated heart rate as many days per week as possible. It will change your life if you can get over the hard part of just starting and sticking with it until it becomes a habit. If you can do that it will be life changing. It certainly changed mine.