May 7 • 15M

May 7, 2023: 85% is the new 42

Transform your life: Why fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle changes are for the long haul

 
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Arvind
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For a long time to come

You are going to brush your teeth for a long time to come.

You are going to shower for a long time to come.

These are not surprising revelations, even though we cannot predict what the future holds in a decade or more.

As you are also aware, your powers diminish with age. Your physical and cognitive powers decline. And yet, we are not approaching our health and fitness and lifestyle as things we will need to work on for a long time to come.

Sounds obvious, right?

To fight the good fight, to not allow them to diminish, a healthy lifestyle is mandatory. For how long? Well, for however long you want to live.

Short-termism

In the world of fitness and nutrition, there's a common case of short-term thinking. We're all guilty of it, folks. It's a result of our limited mental capacity to process the necessary changes, combined with the chaos of our daily lives. And let's not forget the endless stream of good and bad advice floating around.

The end result? A classic case of "I'll give it a go for a month or two". Whether it's a new diet, exercise routine, or even trying to get some shut-eye at a reasonable hour - we've all been there.

Sure, some of us manage to stick with it. But let's face it, most of us fall short. And the real issue? Our mindset. We're not in it for the long haul, folks. We're looking for a quick fix.

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Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

So, let's change that narrative. Let's experiment with our habits and routines but with a focus on the long term. No more quick fixes only. But a wise concoction of short-term bursts with longer term maintenance and plateaus.

Urgent and Important

We all know the struggle of trying to balance everything in life. It's like trying to juggle flaming swords while riding a unicycle on a tightrope. Not exactly a walk in the park. We think we can do it all, but let's be real, something's gotta give. And unfortunately, it's usually our health, relationships, and sanity that end up taking the hit.

So, what do we do when the "Urgent and Important" things start piling up? We shove the "Not Urgent and Important" to the side like a forgotten toy in the corner of a child's room. But let's not forget, that neglecting those important things can have serious consequences for our future selves.

Now, I've learned a thing or two from my students. They're like little Zen masters, showing up and doing the work without complaining or questioning the plan. And guess what? It works! They're not only getting stronger physically, but they're also seeing improvements in other areas of their lives. Who knew that consistent effort could actually lead to positive outcomes?

From my recent past, I've tried meditating and journaling. And let me tell you, I didn't sprout a halo or anything. The changes were subtle, but I did notice that whenever I stopped these practices (oh, no halo yet?! This is not working) off, my performance and life suffered.

And it's not just me! My students at The Quad feel the same way. When they skip out on the community, the positive vibes, and the hard work, things start to go south.

But here's the kicker: this stuff should be obvious! I mean, you're an expert in your field, right? But when it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition, people don't get it.

So, how long do you need to work on yourself? Well, for as long as you want to be healthy and happy! It's like investing or marriage - you gotta keep putting in the effort if you want to see results.

Not measurable

Making changes can be as slow as a turtle on a lazy day. Some of us hit the jackpot and get a boost of motivation that lasts for months or even years. But for the rest of us, it feels like we're pushing a giant boulder uphill forever.

Sure, some things like how much you can lift or how much you weigh are easy to track, but they eventually hit a wall. The real game-changers are the subtle shifts that happen over time. If we're not paying attention, we'll miss them completely!

For me and my students, the only sign that we're slacking off is when our routine is disrupted. That's when we know we need to get back on track and keep pushing forward.

85%

Hey, listen up folks! I've got a revolutionary idea that will change the game for ya! How about we switch our mindset and approach? It's simple, really. The magic number is 85%. Yup, you heard me right. Just get things right 85% of the time, or get 85% of the things right.

And while you're at it, focus on the big rocks, not the little pebbles. Trust me, it's gonna make your life a whole lot easier.

Fractals

Most weeks should follow the pattern. You sleep reasonably well, you eat reasonably well, you train with a park-bench style approach, and you balance the work-life.

Sometimes you zoom in and your day follows the pattern.

Sometimes you zoom out and your month follows the pattern, but the days - not so much.

That's fine. That's how it will be.

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Photo by Yumi Kim on Unsplash

One day at a time.

One week at a time.

But stop waiting for The End

Listen up folks, I'm not suggesting you stick to the same boring routine till the end of time. That's only for the chosen ones, you know, the unicorns among us. As for me, I've tried running (for a mere 6 months), then moved on to lifting barbells (2 years of that), and now I've been hooked on kettlebells for over a decade. And if I take a step back and look at the big picture, I've been enjoying my fitness journey for the past 15 years, by doing things 85% right.

Similarly, I've experimented with being vegan, vegetarian, and paleo, and now I've got a little bit of everything with a touch of intuitive eating, and voila! I'm nailing about 85% of what I think is "healthy eating" with minimal friction.

I mean, let's be real, I'm all about optimising my health, but I'm not about to give up on life. So, for the rest of my life, I'll keep doing what works best for me.

What's next?

Okay, so let me break it down for you in a way that won't scare you off. You don't have to wait for a pat on the back to feel accomplished. Those hard-core fitness and nutrition programs might give you some quick results, but they require a level of discipline that's almost inhuman.

The real deal is the 85% you can maintain for the rest of your life.

Some weeks, hardcore. Some weeks, vacation. But most of the time, 85%.

Now, if you're wondering whether you can keep up with this routine for the rest of your life, don't worry, not everything has to be a lifelong commitment. But when it comes to your health, you better believe that's a forever kind of thing.

Taking care of your body is no laughing matter!

Let's optimise for health while allowing for life. For the rest of our lives.