So much fitness advice is framed like this:

FACT CHECK LOSER. IF YOU CAN’T WAKE UP AT 3 AM AND DEADLIFT DOUBLE YOUR BODY WEIGHT FOR DOUBLES IN YOUR DRIVEWAY IN THE DEAD OF WINTER, UNFOLLOW ME ALREADY BECAUSE YOU’LL ALWAYS BE WEAK, FAT, AND PATHETIC. LGBFJBLFG!!!!!!

I’ve shared plenty of tough love myself. Make excuses or make it go, “secrets” never work unless you work for them, train hard even when the motivation carcass is being picked by crows, whatever. Here, however, I want to talk to you in gentler tones about fitness.

Why? 

Although fitness requires work and effort and sometimes feels like a stormy love affair that you just can’t quit, too much lectern-pounding bust-your-assery can hold you back and even burn you out. 

The key is balance, in knowing when to steam and when to stroll, when to brace up and bear down and when to back off and breathe. Go, go, go versus slow, slow, slow.

And that balance is often hard to find in the fitness racket. Everywhere you turn there’s another hard-faced hardo bellowing about cooking up the suck and injecting it into your veins so you can earn the aftermath one sweat brick at a time.

So, with grumpy faces and slash-and-burn advice in more-than-ample supply these days, I want to offer a counterpoint—a few gentle fitness reminders that acknowledge that sometimes you need to growl and gut it out, and sometimes you need to grin and give more leash.

  1. Train at your own pace. Progress is progress. Sometimes it’s in stone’s throws, sometimes in country miles. I’m cheering for you just as you’d cheer for me because we all want to live in a fitter and healthier world.
  2. It’s okay to feel like you don’t know what you’re doing because even the fittest people in the gym didn’t always know what they were doing. They learned as they went along, and they made many mistakes. You can too.
  3. There is no one way to get fit. No One True Plan, no secret treasure map to the Land of Big Butts and Bigger Biceps, no alchemical formula of magical eating and training techniques. Find the way that works for you.
  4. Even a little can go a long way. A 30-minute walk every day can kickstart the process that transforms your body and life. A huge triumph. Most people transform themselves once every never. So go slow if you need to.
  5. Sometimes you have to drag your draggy body through a spate of not-great workouts before you have a great one again. It’s normal. So, just train. The good and bad are just part of the process. Train anyway. Press on.
  6. Some days are easier, and some are harder. Your best workouts are rarely the easy ones, though, and your hardest workouts aren’t write-offs. This is just the way the cards come out sometimes. Keep going.
  7. Whether it’s your first year or fourteenth, workouts will feel awful sometimes, like you don’t know what you’re doing, like you’re chasing the wind, like you should quit. It’s okay. Shrug it off and plow on.
  8. You don’t have to hit a PR to have a fitness win. Sometimes it’s just going for a walk. Or doing some push-ups. Or just not eating the whole pizza or box of cookies. You’re doing great. Press on.

If you want to hear more of my musings on mastering the inner game of getting fit so you can be all you can be, check out my book, The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation.

In the book, I share wisdom and insights from hundreds of scientific studies and scores of legendary artists, authors, entrepreneurs, philosophers, generals, and conquerors, as well as my own biggest “a ha” moments that have helped me overcome the things that were most holding me back.

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