It's easy to live a hard life but hard to live an easy life. Read that again. What do I mean by that? If you make the easy choices every day then your life is going to be hard. If you make the hard choices every day, however, then your life is going to be a lot easier. This applies to every area of life (finances, work, relationships, etc.) but I want to explore what that looks like for your health and fitness.
Let's talk about living a hard life first. How do you get to that point? You get there by making the easy choices every day. Every decision you make has an impact on your health and fitness. It's easy to hit the snooze button 5 times and skip breakfast. It's easy to eat fast food for lunch instead of packing something healthy. It's easy to eat the donuts in the break room that someone brought. It's easy to go straight to the couch after work instead of going to the gym. Who can blame you after the day you had? It's easy to order takeout for dinner instead of making a salad from the food you bought last weekend. It's easy to stay up late watching Netflix and drinking wine to unwind instead of going to bed early. It's easy to go out with your friends every weekend. Rinse, wash, repeat. If you make these choices in one day it's not that big of a deal. If you make them for a month you might notice some differences but not many. But if you make these choices for years then they will shape your life.
If you make the easy choices every day then you will have a hard life. What do I mean by that? Life is going to be hard. Your body is going to hurt constantly. You will get out of breath walking up a flight of stairs. You will just chalk it up to getting older. Never mind the fact that there are people in their 90s running marathons. It's just a part of life to get older and to feel bad every day. Right? You will be sick a lot. You probably won't be able to go a year without getting sick at least a few times. Playing outside with your kids? Not for more than 10 minutes. Going for a hike on vacation? Forget about it. Saving for retirement? You probably won't be able to enjoy retirement because you will have trouble getting around. Not to mention the medical bills you will have to start paying every year. Forget about seeing the world. You're setting yourself up for assisted living. Your likelihood of developing chronic disease skyrockets. Your life expectancy will drastically decrease. All of those years of making easy choices are going to hit you and hit you hard. I know it sounds harsh but it's the truth. It's really easy to get caught up in day to day life and not think about what your daily habits are setting you up for. We live in a society that makes everything easier. And for the third year in a row the average life expectancy in the United States dropped. This is the first time since 1918 since it has dropped. Sometimes a tough wake up call is needed.
So what are the hard choices you need to be making every day? You wake up when your alarm goes off. You drink your water and eat your breakfast before you drink your coffee. You put your workout clothes in your car because you know if you go home right after work that you won’t go workout. At work you eat some almonds instead of a donut. You eat your lunch that you packed the night before instead of going out to eat. After work you head straight to the gym. When you get home you cook your dinner instead of ordering takeout. You only watch one episode on Netflix and you drink a sparkling water instead of wine. You go to bed at a decent hour. Instead of going out every weekend you go out once a month. You find some constructive hobbies to take up your time instead, like reading, learning a new language or instrument, or spending more time with your family. Rinse, wash, repeat. One day of this you won't notice much difference. After one week you might feel a little better but still nothing crazy. But compare what this person looks like after 5 years compared to the person making the easy choices every day. They are completely different people. Spread that out over a lifetime and what do you get? I hope you can see the difference.
You make the hard choices every day so that you can have an easy life. You hardly ever get sick. You wake up feeling refreshed and excited every day. Your body doesn't constantly hurt and you have energy to do everything you want. You feel fulfilled. You can do whatever physical activity that you want on vacation without worrying about whether you can do it or not. You can play outside with your kids for as long as you want. Think about all of the money you would save in medical bills by not having chronic disease. You can enjoy retirement because you have the physical ability and health to do whatever you want. You might not want to retire, though, because you are still so energized and you love what you do. Average life expectancy? You are blowing that out of the water. 100 years here we come!
I am speaking in major generalities here but I hope that you get the picture. If you want to have an easy life then you need to make the hard choices every day. But here is the funny thing. After a while the hard choices aren't hard to make. They are habits and you don't have to think twice about them. They are just a part of life. So to live an easy life you really only need to make the hard choices for a little while. Once they become a habit then it will be harder for you NOT to make the good choices. They will be so ingrained in you that they will just happen automatically. If you want to change your life it doesn't take a lifetime of willpower. It only takes a little while. Start making the hard choices now and in the long term you will have an easy life.