6 September 2015

59 – Same Difference, Pt. 2

This is the second in a three-part series of essays. So look at #58 first. And know that I choose my words carefully. If you’ve already looked at #58 then carry on like you’re normal.

This essay’s inspired by a work buddy, my younger sister, and Tony Horton. So grab a towel and a bottle of water. We got work to do.

Fitness has become serious shit in my world. And in my world, serious shit requires Systems. What can I tell you? I like my Systems.

Systems don’t make sense in every situation. But fitness is one place where they absolutely do. Becoming fit and healthy demands sweat, consistency, and discipline. It can only be achieved through hard work. That’s truth.

Despite what The World’s endless ejaculation of sexy fitness infomercials tells you about quick-miracle-fixes, there’s simply no other way.  You want to live a long, healthy, and happy life? Then you need to exercise regularly and move physically every day. And you need to eat real, good food. They’re essential to being a proper human. And that isn’t an opinion. It’s fact.

I exercise 6 times a week. I do 5 strength workouts and yoga on the 6th day.  Each strength workout consists of 6 exercises that I do 3 times. And I follow that System for 6 to 8 weeks.

Then I make some small changes. I replace some exercises with new ones. Instead of doing an exercise with dumbbells I’ll start doing it with a barbell instead. And I’ll use slightly heavier weights.

From a distance everything else looks the same. But those small changes make a huge difference. They get me excited about starting those new workouts. And I feel a major difference once I do.

Variety’s found its way into my kitchen too. But that didn’t happen overnight either. I changed one little thing at a time. And though there’s an extraordinary difference between what I eat now compared to several years ago, I never once felt like I was making extraordinary changes. Eating kale, bulgur, and sweet potatoes just feels normal now. More importantly, my gut’s thanking me every day for eating real, good foods. But I’ll stop talking about food for two reasons: 1) it’s making me hungry, and 2) I’ve already said a mouthful about it here and here.

The point is this: Bob@34 can do things Bob@26 never imagined being able to do. And that’s because Bob@34 does things and eats foods that Bob@26 never did and never ate. And I feel like the lyric from one of Bob Dylan’s all-time songs because of it.

There’s good reason for that. My work buddy, Initials, explained it perfectly. And Initials knows what he’s talking about. I’ll say no more about Initials here. He had the final word on Lifestyle Changes in #49 (the one that explains why New Year’s Resolutions are bullshit).

What Initials pointed out to me is this: change demands that a person adapt, and adaptation triggers growth and improvement. Routines and consistency are good, he told me, but you gotta mix it up every now and then. You gotta step out of your comfort zone. That’s how you improve. If you don’t, you won’t.

Initials is spot on. Think about it: if you stay in your comfort zone you’ll become comfortable. But comfort leads to complacency which leads to laziness. So comfort zones are really a slippery slope that’ll send you tumbling back to the bottom.

That’s why it’s important to throw some variety into your habits. Variety keeps you on your toes and on top of things. Variety triggers growth. And we should always be growing because it’s an essential part of finding ourselves. Though I'll never say it as well as this guy: 

For me, it all goes back to Tony Horton. Tony resonates with so many people because he knows there’s no substitute for plain, hard work.  He also understands the dynamic between consistency and variety.  He knows that, while consistent exercise is vital to being healthy and fit, in The Big Picture variety is the spice of everything. And a little bit of variety can go a long way.

My younger sister is a great example of this. CT became serious about her health and fitness several years ago. She started eating better foods. Then CT set out to become fitter and stronger. She completed Tony Horton’s P90x program after listening to me rambling on about it (Sidenote: CT once compared me to an extension cord. You just keep going on and on and on, she said. I’ll give her credit: it was an astute observation).

That’s me, according to CT.

But CT didn’t stop there. After doing P90x she did P90x Plus. And then she did P90x2. And she finished P90x3 shortly before Christmas last year.

There’s a lot of variety in all the P90x programs. But CT wanted more. So she took up running and cycling too.

I’d say CT’s doing pretty good so far. She completed her first 16 km run last month. She also recently placed first in the women’s division of an 80 km cycling race. She’s not easy, as we’d say back home in Newf-land.

A few days ago CT told me she’d joined a swimming group. I was tickled to hear this because I’ve often joked with CT about swimming. You gets into that and you’ll be doing triathlons in no time, I’d say.

I was just joking around. But she’s not.

CT’s made it her goal to compete in her first triathlon in 2016.

She will too. And I’ll make a point of letting you know when she does.

CT gets it. She wants to keep getting better and healthier. She wants to live as good a life as she can. So she keeps pushing herself just a little further. She keeps adding in activities that work for her. She understands that mixing things up while staying consistent will help her do that.

And while we’re different in many ways, myself and CT are alike in one very important way: we both feel better in our 30s than we did when we were in our 20s. We’re both aging like wine.

Exercise and eating well offer two important lessons. They teach us that consistently following a routine is critical to making positive lifestyle changes. But they also reveal the value in mixing things up every now and again. Experimenting with some variety allows us to discover what works and doesn’t work for us. We learn which exercises and activities cause us discomfort, and which ones really hit the spot. By trying different foods we learn which ones agree with our guts and which ones don’t. Mixing things up is a great way of tailoring habits and routines that are best-suited to you.

Exercise and eating well have also taught me two important things about myself: I like to move, and I like things that make me want to move. That’s partly why I like music so much. So we’ll wrap things up by listening to some sweet tunes in #60. 

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What's a House Newf?

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The House Newf is from a rugged and beautiful island on the eastern edge of Canada called Newfoundland. He was first identified by a potter with a naturalist's flair, and he does in fact live in a house under the watchful eye of a cat that seems bewildered by the universe at large. That house is in Halifax, Nova Scotia and that's where the House Newf writes fiction and essays on things that add value to his life that may add some value to yours. You can contact him at bobharding80@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter @theHouseNewf, on Instagram @thehousenewf, and like him on Facebook. The House Newf is a unique specimen. Every home should have one.