You need to develop a practice of regular exercise

“If you don’t do something, you will have a cardiac event of some sort in the next 10 years.”  Those were the words I heard come from my physician’s mouth 12 years ago. I had one young son and another on the way.

I’d been overweight and unhealthy for 20 years.  I drank too much. I ate whatever I wanted. I was stressed out.  Every time I went to the doctor, they said I had to do something, but this time it was different. 

10 Years….

In 10 years, my wife might be calling the ambulance after she finds me unconscious in the shower or slumped over the computer.  They would take me to the hospital and crack my chest open like a crab because my arteries are clogged and my heart is begging for mercy. 

Something had to change, or I was going to be enjoying a much shorter life than I wanted to live.

I started with the Couch to 5k program from Runner’s Magazine.  The first day had me alternating between a light jog for 60 seconds and three minutes of rest for 20 minutes.  I still remember huffing and puffing through those 60 seconds—IT WAS BRUTAL

Over the weeks, the jogging increased, and the rest decreased according to the program.  Before I knew it, I was running for five minutes at a time and resting for two, and at four months, I was able to jog for an entire 30 minutes without stopping! 

Feeling much better now and enjoying the improvement in my life, I started SF Boot-camp in Golden Gate Park.  This was an outdoor program that consisted of body-weight, elastic bands, running and jumping exercises. It was a group class that met four times per week.  I lost about 60 pounds, got faster and started to look like a healthy person. 

I had finally made exercising regularly a habit!  It was after about a year and a half that I started to get bored with the programming.  I was enjoying the new me and wanted to push further. 

Around this time, someone told me about CrossFit. I found a gym and a community of great folks who also have a regular physical practice.  After 10 years of doing CrossFit, I’ve packed on about 40 pounds of lean body mass and I can do things I didn’t know would ever be possible for me. 

I’m now 47, in the best shape of my life, and the heart is working quite well, thank you very much!  I’ve made scores of friends over the past 12 years and am looking forward to another 40+ years of exercising! 

While it was tough to get started, making it a priority made it a reality. Today, I can’t think of a single change that has benefited my life more than my physical practice of regular exercise. 

Dream Big and Write it Down

One of the most important things I’ve done recently was to write down my 5 year life plan. It’s been invaluable in helping to shape my goals in life, as well as contribute to my overall fulfillment and happiness.

 

I was encouraged to create one last year at a workshop. The idea is to think BIG and, in as much detail as possible, outline how I’d ideally like to live 5 years from now. The initial draft took me several hours, and since then, I’ve made several small updates. As I reviewed it occasionally over the past year, I was pleasantly surprised to find that several goals had already come to fruition and that I’m quickly accelerating towards the rest.

 

I was encouraged to focus on 5 main categories and selected the following: Relationships, Home, Work, Finances, and Travel. I wrote down detailed bullet points for each, i.e: how many hours I work per week, how much money I make each month, how much time I spend on my morning routine, how much time I spend with my wife and kids, how much time I spend abroad, etc.

 

The exercise was not only fun to do, but turned out to be the most important thing I’ve done in the past decade (besides marrying my wife and giving life to my daughter 😉). Every decision since this exercise has been more intentional and aligned with my true self. I’ve also had an easier time this past year saying “no” to things that didn’t bring much personal fulfillment, and I have made life changes (including moving to a different state) that enabled me to spend more time with family and on passion projects.

 

I intend on taking this exercise a step further by planning my life 10 years down the line, then 20, 50, etc. I love thinking and contemplating about how I can live my best life, and this exercise has truly illustrated that I can achieve anything I intend to do.

 

I highly recommend creating your own today — and please, share it with me! I’d love to hear about your life plans and how you put them into action.