Every day, you’re forced to make a number of decisions about what’s important to you and prioritize them accordingly.
You decide if you’re going to work (most people decide yes).
You decide if you’re going to put pants on (again, usually a yes here too).
You decide if you’re going to walk/feed/play with the dog or make breakfast for your kid or pay your rent/mortgage/car loan.
In fact, for most people, their top priorities for an average day are pretty simple:
- Family (including pets)
The order will vary of course person to person, but you get the idea.
And for most people, these are no-brainer priorities. In fact, if you’re like the majority of people, you don’t even have to think about these types of responsibilities—you just accept them, and take care of them. And of course, over the years, you learn to prioritize—if you don’t, you’ll be fired, lose your house, force your dog to pee on the carpet, let your kid go hungry, etc.
So why is it that exercise isn’t on this list?
Putting exercise first
There’s something about the way our brains work as human beings that makes it so that if we have to actually decide to do something, it’s much harder to ever do it.
With the examples above—work, family care, bills—you don’t really have to decide whether or not—you just do them, or face the negative consequences.
But with exercise, it’s different.
With exercise, most people make a daily decision whether to work out or not. It’s not something that’s necessarily planned beforehand. Or if it is, it’s always with an asterisk added.
Exercise is never the priority.
Just think about it: if you have a busy day, what’s the first thing usually crossed of your list?
If you’re like 99% of the population, it’s your workout, every single time.
But you have to change that.
Because if you’re honest with yourself, you know deep down that health and exercise should be your #1 priority (or at least #2, after your loved ones). Your health is what will allow you to work into old age if you so desire. And make it that you can keep doing all the fun things you love to do, like biking around and hiking and exploring and trying new sports. And exercise is what will allow you to be able to keep up with your grandchildren someday and keep feeling young in spite of your age.
And if you don’t change your priorities and bump exercise to the top sooner than later, your body will slowly, but inevitably, fall apart.
Make it a habit
One of the very best things that you can do to change your mindset about exercise is to be consistent with it and make it a habit.
Because if it’s a habit, you’ll stop having to think about it and just do it.
And it’s easier than you think—all you have to do is to commit to working out for 30 days as a sort of workout “trial period” (or, if you’re more ambitious, 90 days), and BOOM, you’ve successfully created a habit.
(And yes, I know, sometimes travel gets in the way and unravels all your hard work—but it doesn’t have to.)
Once you’ve got the habit part down, you’ll start to notice how much stronger, less stressed, and happier you feel—and soon, you’ll find yourself putting exercise first.—not last.
Stop counting it as ‘optional’
We all have those things we put in the optional, or ‘would be nice to do if I had time’ category… activities like cleaning the refrigerator, vacuuming the car, and organizing the files on our computer all tend to fit into that category.
But if you really want to make exercise a part of your lifestyle, you have to stop thinking about your workouts as being optional, and start thinking of them as being compulsory.
Yes, you have to start making your workouts just as important to you as eating breakfast, filling up your car with gas and paying your internet bill. A non-decision. Non-option. Something you know you have to do, so you just get it done.
Treat your workouts like an appointment that you can’t cancel. If you need to literally schedule them into your daily/weekly calendar in order to make them happen, do that. Then don’t treat them as any less important as any other appointment in your calendar—your workouts should be non-negociable. In fact, they should trump all of your other commitments as often as possible (obviously, there will be exceptions to this).
This may sound a little extreme, but trust me, it’s not.
Because this is your body, your life, your health we’re talking about here. And you have to take care of it now, or suffer the consequences forever.
You can keep putting everything and everyone else before you, or you can choose yourself.
You can feed your body junk and make all the excuses you can think of to avoid exercising, or you can start eating right and work out regularly and intensely.
The former means a life likely full of illness, injuries and pains. The latter steers you toward a life of happiness, adventure, and independence into old age.
The obvious answer is to start making exercise your #1 priority right now.
But no matter how hard they try, no one (including me) can force you to take that path. You have to want it badly enough. You have to choose it for yourself.
So what will you choose?