An Open Letter to Anyone Struggling to Get Healthier

Before I became a psychologist, I worked with a director of a multi-million-dollar recreation center. His day was packed with back-to-back meetings, but every day, he worked out for an hour during his lunch break. Business associates would frequently ask him to cancel or reschedule his workout to fit in another business meeting “because it’s important.”

His response?

“My workout is a meeting with myself. It’s just as, if not more, important than any other meeting I have. I never cancel a workout.”

He recognized his health created a cascade effect. If he maintained his health, he’d be better at his job and able to pursue a quality life. If he neglected his health, his performance and quality of life would deteriorate. Despite being busy, he kept his health a priority.

•••

It’d be easy for me to blame being out of shape on external circumstances. I was a fat kid because I grew up in a poor rural area where health literacy is low, and obesity rates are high. I stayed fat as an adult because I was too busy to exercise regularly — college and work took up too much time.

Sometimes your reasons are valid, but they’re still bullshit excuses.

The reality is I didn’t prioritize my health. Resources are everywhere, but we have to put in the work to find them. Google, Youtube, your local library, teachers, mentors — the list goes on.

You don’t need a gym membership or fancy equipment. There are plenty of exercises you can do with your body weight or with objects you already have lying around. If you want to spice it up, look up prison workouts — people who are incarcerated have to improvise to stay in shape, and they come up with some ingenious ways to do it.

Healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive. Look at the canned and frozen food sections if the fresh stuff is pricey. When produce is out of season, it’s usually better to buy the canned or frozen version because they’re picked during peak season then preserved — so the quality is higher versus the “fresh” stuff that’s more expensive (because it’s out of season) and has a longer shelf life.

•••

I don’t take advice from “gurus,” and I don’t give advice on shit I haven’t used in my own life or with my clients.

This year, I decided to prioritize my health — no more excuses. I don’t schedule my training around everything else; I schedule everything else around my training.

This mental shift is subtle, but it’s powerful.

I write. I read. I do strength and conditioning. I train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I eat nutritious food (most of the time). I rest. I spend quality time with loved ones. These are my priorities — and I treat them as a priority.

Whatever time I have left in the day is what’s available for the other stuff. Yes, I have a regular job, but remote work allows for more flexibility. The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss explains how to negotiate this if you’re curious.

•••

We get one life. One mind. One body. It’s up to us to keep them in good health.

Determine what’s important to you. Fill your day, and your life, with whatever that is. Let the trivial shit compete over the remaining scraps of your time. Don’t fill your plate up with bullshit obligations — read The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson if you need suggestions on how to do this.

Go live your life. Focus on what matters. Fuck a pandemic. Fuck excuses. Fuck all the bullshit life tries to throw at you.

Read. Exercise. Take care of your mental health. Spend time with loved ones. Do something you can see progress in every day (for me, it’s writing). Pursue something fulfilling — whatever that looks like for you.

Until next time,

Memento mori.

*This article originally appeared on Medium*