I’ve been around fitness my entire life. Growing up a swimmer, I’ve been around greatness – competing alongside Olympic legends like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte. I’ve also witnessed individuals with amazing potential fall short of their capacity and trained alongside less than genetic gifted athletes that surpass what any of their coaches thought they could do. I then entered a career of health and fitness and been part of amazing results, failures, and everything in between.
As with most things, there is a common theme to succeed in fitness: achievement is directly proportional to the effort you put into it. You need to show up.
It all starts with showing up. James Clear states in his book Atomic Habits, that “every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” To begin to make any changes in fitness, you need to begin casting votes for the individual you want to become. That means you’ve got to start being active every day. It needs to become engrained in your identity that activity is not a task you do every once in a while, rather it’s a task you do daily.
Creating the habit of being active daily doesn’t have to be extreme. As Clear states, even exercising for 2 minutes a day is a perfect start. It could be a 2-minute plank at home, a short walk around your block, a short run, or as intense as a CrossFit class.
Your focus also needs to be on the task at hand which is not obtaining a certain number on the scale, rather the process of beginning to be active daily. Being far less concerned with the results and more concerned on your trajectory, as Atomic Habits suggests, is vital. Results don’t come overnight. They come with identity change and a creation of a new habit. They come with systems. They come in the long haul. Setting goals is important, but the path which leads us to those goals are so much more important in long term success.
Throughout my time as a competitive swimmer, I also noticed the most successful swimmers were not the ones who solely focused on winning, rather it was the love of training. “When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running,” Clear states. Over time, you will fall in love with your new habit of activity and your new identity. Be mindful that this process will not come overnight, but remember we are in this life for the long haul. Adjust your mindset and remember we don’t HAVE TO be active – we GET TO be active. Be grateful for your abilities to move and to lift – be it slow or fast, light or heavy. Cherish and love that fact.
Now that my swimming career is over, my desires to exercise have changed drastically. Rather than solely chasing performance-based results, I am chasing my identity to constantly improve myself and my community. Sometimes pushing to be the best me isn’t quite enough some days – but the love for my fitness community is. I show up for myself, but I also show up to support them. The statement, “One of the most effective things you can do to build better habits is to join a culture where your desired behavior is the normal behavior,” in Atomic Habits feels like it’s talking to my Aspire Community directly. I see, support, and sweat with my closest friends on a daily basis. People outside of this community might not get why I enjoy running a marathon, doing a heavy clean, or completing Murph. But my Aspire Community does. Yes, I enjoy pursuing the fittest individual I can be, but I more enjoy the community that supports each other in every aspect of life from fitness, to family, to overall wellbeing.
It all starts with one thing – showing up. Nothing can be accomplished by doing nothing. Too often we daydream of things yet fail to put them into action. Being 1% better daily compound yields incredible interest as we are constantly casting votes for the individual we want to be. By trusting the process and observing our trajectory, not just results, beginning to be active daily, and finding a community that supports these values, you can take your health and fitness into your own hands. You just need to start showing up.