Love Is All You Need
Someone is wrong on the internet… I hate that. And I woke up feeling self-indulgent and ranty, so here’s what we old-schoolers would call a “flame”.
An article appeared in my news feed: “The Health And Fitness Audit: 15 Questions You Must Know in Order to Succeed in Fitness”.
Well, I’ve been an endurance cyclist for twenty years—and an inline skater and basketball player before that—but I’m openminded and willing to learn. I wonder if this guy will point out anything I missed.
Since I’m pretty sure I’ve “Succeeded in Fitness”, just for fun, let’s see how many of his “15 Things You Must Know” I actually did when I embarked upon life as a cyclist back before the turn of the millennium.
Here’s his list:
- 1. Do you know why you want to change?
Nope. I wanted to ride a bike. For long distances. Why? Because I thought it would be fun.
- 2. Do you know exactly what you need to be, and do, in order to achieve your desired fitness goal?
There were no “traits and identity” that needed to change. More importantly, my answer to “What will you give up?” was “Nothing”. Since I actually wanted to ride more, I didn’t view cycling as displacing some other activities that I preferred.
- 3. Do you have a health and fitness mission statement?
Never did, never needed one, and never will. That’s just bullshit.
- 4. Do you have a crystal clear one-year goal that you can clearly explain?
This is probably the only thing in his list that actually applied to me. I wanted to do a long-distance charity ride, either the Boston to New York AIDS Ride or the Pan-Mass Challenge. But the goal wasn’t some artificial achievement so much as something I sincerely looked forward to experiencing for its own merit. And I do still set annual goals for myself.
- 5. Have you broken that one-year goal into quarterly goals?
I didn’t do that explicitly. I just rode when I wanted, ramping up my mileage as I got closer to my goal event.
- 6. Have you broken your goals into small and manageable daily actions that lead to your end-goal?
Again, I didn’t have daily goals. Instead, I simply enjoyed riding my bike. Sure, I had my annual goal in the back of my mind, but my quarterly and daily behavior simply happened on their own, rather than needing to be micromanaged by some internal supervisor.
- 7. Do you have a morning routine suited specifically to your needs?
Nope. I just lived life and did what I enjoyed. Nor did I have hourly, minutely, secondly, nor picosecondly goals.
- 8. Do you have a weekly plan for how you’re going to eat that fits with work?
I didn’t think about nutrition at all in my first couple years. Initially, I was getting a lot more improvement simply as my body adapted to the workload. Nutrition was an incremental, marginal gain that came much later.
- 9. Do you know your workout days and what you’re doing each session?
I did not create a rigid, structured training plan because I didn’t need one. I just did what I enjoyed, and my fitness took care of itself. The absolute last thing I would do is what the author suggests: treating your rides “just as you would a doctors appointment and important business meetings.” Talk about onerous and uninspiring!
- 10. What are you doing to ensure you get optimal sleep nightly?
Again, not a concern until years later, when I was a well-developed athlete looking for marginal gains.
- 11. Whats your biggest obstacle to succeeding?
Honestly, the biggest obstacle I foresaw was reaching my charity fundraising requirement. On the road, I knew I hadn’t done any group riding, but that too was not a fitness concern. My physical ability was never in doubt, since my regular riding would ensure my fitness for the event.
- 12. Once you know your obstacles, what’s your plan to attack and defeat those obstacles?
Plan of attack? Ride my bike when I felt like it. And you know what? That was entirely sufficient.
- 13. What are you doing to mentally & emotionally prepare to change?
Mentally and emotionally? It’s just riding a bike, for fucksakes, it’s not waterboarding and solitary confinement!
This is really telling. A competent fitness coach/consultant would offer a positive message, encouraging you to do what you love. Imagine looking to this guy for inspiration and being asked, “Do you understand the price and pain required to change? Are you okay with the necessary sacrifices and are you willing to do it?”
That antagonistic approach to fitness is pure self-destructive bullshit. Doing what you love is never a sacrifice, and puts a healthy perspective around any short-term pain involved in working toward a challenging goal.
- 14. Do you have some form of accountability and support?
No, no accountability, and no support structure for doing something I enjoy. Again, all this shit is extraneous if the thing you’re doing is pleasurable rather than torture. Hey author, you might want to take a look at your relationship with exercise, because it sounds like you really hate it.
- 15. If yes to number 14, then who is it and how are they helping?
No. “No” to Number 14. I don’t need external policing to spend time doing something I love.
So although I’ve enjoyed two decades of fitness success, I can honestly say that I only did one of this expert’s “15 Things You Must Know”. Apparently “You Must” means something completely different to this guy, who has an obviously antagonistic relationship to fitness. He hates it with such passion! But as a “fitness expert”, he’s deeply happy to exchange his bad advice for your money.
Here: here’s my advice, from someone with a 20-year track record of fitness achievements, and given to you 100 percent free of cost:
Find something healthful that you enjoy doing, then enjoy the shit out of doing it. If you see a challenging goal you’d like to achieve, you can enjoy doing the hard work necessary to make it happen. You don’t need a mission statement or a support team or a fitness audit or an overpriced coach or fitness consultant to feed you expensive bullshit from a silver platter.
Fitness success is this simple: do what you love; the rest is just bullshit.