I’ve been on holiday with my family for the past few days in the beautiful Eastern Sierras. We’ve been snowed in quite a bit, but I’ve managed to stay busy via channeling my inner Jack Lalanne (e.g. lots of push-ups, sit-ups, and natural movement). It’s been great family time and I haven’t missed a single moment, due to my fitness routine. As I was thinking about it today, I wanted to share a pattern that I’ve noticed in life, that will help you plow forward and succeed in few very important areas.
School & Learning: When I was young I wasn’t the best student and I’m sure that most of my High School teachers and classmates wouldn’t have expected my success in college and graduate school. While I didn’t attend an Ivy League school, nor am I on sabbatical from my job at NASA at the moment, I’m proud of my academic achievements. I had a few friends in college ask me for advice to improve their grades, and I don’t think my answer was what they expected (or hoped for). Here was my advice to friends looking to improve their grades: 1) Go to class – always, 2) Do all assignments, and 3) Study for exams, so that cramming isn’t required. Boring, I know, but those that asked for advice skipped (or “blew off”) classes regularly, seemed to prioritize working a low paying job or partying over almost everything else (including school basics), and thought studying for exams must require an “all nighter” with a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast to cap it off.
Parenting: This is a category where I fail on a pretty regular basis. There’s no other role in life where you feel such a deep level of responsibility, and I have been left to wonder after a parenting low-point, “will this moment send him/her to therapy” (I have a boy and a girl). While I still have plenty of ground to cover as a parent, and learn plenty from my fellow bloggers on this topic, I do trust three things that I have taken from my parents and that seem to be working: 1) Be There – Children need you to engage in their lives. At that point when it seems they don’t need you as much, they actually need you more, so be there for them. 2) Consistently do the work of “parenting” – reinforce, coach, support, challenge, confront, etc. – this is not easy to do, but much easier to do the tough stuff if you do it consistently. 3) Continue to to learn & evolve as a parent – if you’re open to it, you’ll learn more about yourself via parenting than by reading reams of “self help” books. Again, I make plenty of mistakes, and won’t be writing any parenting books, but these basics (all done with love) help create a healthy foundation for my kids to find their way in this crazy world – – which I think is the point.
Health & Fitness: OK, so now we get to the part that actually relates to my blog. Much like my passages on school & learning and parenting, I’m not on track to enter any body-building competitions, you won’t see me winning a Cross-Fit event (although one can dream), yet I feel very good about my diet and fitness routines and overall health. I have nothing against those that take on P90X, Insanity, or other programs/systems to “get ripped” or to “look 10 years younger”, but these products/solutions aren’t for me. I think what’s allowed me to be consistently healthy, fit, at my target weight, and to live life “all in” can be summed up by: 1) Don’t miss a workout – It’s not about lifting massive weights or running 20 miles, but it is about stressing those muscles and getting your heart beating on a consistent basis. To the point that you will move things in your life around to ensure you get the workout in today (not the other way around), 2) Make good nutrition choices – It’s not about saying “no” (most of the time), but it’s about choosing a “healthier” option whenever possible, 3) Move your body when ever you have the chance – stairs, parking far away from your destination, sit-ups while watching TV, etc.
While the steps that have helped me in school, as a parent, or in my ongoing journey for health and fitness aren’t exactly the same, I believe there are powerful, common themes at their core – – and they’re incredibly simple. (1) SHOW UP & “OPT IN” CONSISTENTLY (above all else). (2) DO THE WORK. (3) LEARN/EVOLVE.
While I could pepper in a number of other things like “have fun”, and I would hope you do, I don’t think that’s part of the magic. I think there are so many forces in life pulling us away from doing things “we know we should do” consistently, or doing the work, or allowing ourselves to evolve that these three things are very difficult to channel. I strongly suggest you start with consistency (in anything you want to improve in your life) and I think you’ll find you do it better, feel better, and it’s very likely you’ll also start having fun doing it as well.
Small steps add up!