Changing from the easy life of doing nothing all day, to one where I'm working hard for the day, meant that I had to get back into shape. I had developed a nice beer gut and some formerly tougher parts had grown weak. This had to change so I figured out 5 simple ways of making my life easier by living harder.
1. Just because you can do it easily, doesn't mean you should.
I always found the easiest way of doing things because I was lazy and had no motivation. However, in my new trade, I had to do a lot of lifting and carrying and what not that used muscles that hadn't seen movement in years. Now the simplest of tasks for others were a bit of a struggle. I decided that if they were a struggle, that eventually they would become easy if I just kept at it. So I did.
Eventually, the difficult things became easy. Now I wasn't improving, I had simply plateaued. So I figured, instead of making it easy on myself, why not add a bit of challenge into it?If I have the time, Instead of one load of plates, I'll take one and a half, or two. This can apply to any job or task. Raking leaves or shovelling snow? Don't just rake or shovel your yard, ask your neighbour if they need help. Walking to and from work? Get up early and find a longer route.
If it gets easy, take on more. Take on as much as reasonable, then add a bit more to that. You'll find that the challenge becomes something you actively seek out, rather than avoid.
2. Stop consuming shitty stuff.
This is the easiest concept, but hardest challenge. It used to be that I'd have to have two donuts and an extra large 2 cream, 2 sugar coffee in the morning (I still have the coffee, but I've cut it down to 1 x 1 and I also use milk instead of cream, some things, you just need to prevent murder ). On top of that, dinner often consisted of fast food as it was just easier and faster than cooking at home.
Since I needed to pay for college (welding course at a trade college), I lost the luxury of spending money on fast food. This meant I had to plan for meals in advance in order to budget out our grocery costs. So, my wife and I sit down and figure out our meal plan for the month. We keep the meals balanced and the portions reasonable. However, not only has our food costs dropped from $500/ month to $100-150/month, so has my weight, sort of, but I'll get to that later.
Not only is shitty food expensive in the long run (for example, on the cheap side: 4 x $2 burgers + $2 drink = $10 / night x 7 = $70/ week x 4 = $280 / month on DINNER alone), but it's more detrimental to your health. I am 29 years old, had the blood pressure and cholesterol level of a 45 year old smoker and would get winded going up stairs. All of this was because of shitty diet. I know this seems simple, but the math alone was enough to break out of the fast food prison for us.
The other thing is alcohol. I was an alcoholic when I met my wife. I didn't need AA or anything, I just needed a reason to stop drinking. She gave me that reason. When I met her, I weighed 250 lbs (at 5'11" that was mostly gut). I recommend cutting alcohol consumption down to an "occasional" type of thing. I really only drink on special occasions now, in a social setting, rather than just getting blitzed for the sake of it. I feel better, and my wallet is fatter for it.
If you're an alcoholic and can't stop drinking on your own, you don't need to go to AA, but it can help to get some sort of outside assistance. Talk to your doctor for recommendations.
3. Be a man, not a boy.
This is difficult to grasp for some of us, I know it took me a while, but I got it. Being a man isn't about eating meat, drinking beer and fighting bears (although those tasks do make your balls huge, just saying). Being a man is about responsibility for yourself and your family. It sounds simple, but it isn't.
Taking into account your actions and how they affect others is not something we, as humans, are built for. It takes conditioning, something I lacked growing up.I grew up in a great home; no divorce and had a happy childhood filled with great times. However, I was pretty much given everything I could ask for. I rarely had chores beyond raking leaves or shovelling snow (which would be done half-assedly so I could get back to my video games). My parent's were great parents, but had trouble disciplining me or teaching me important things like responsibility.
This ended up faulting me as a man, as it took me longer to realize what I was supposed to do. They did their best, and I love them for it, but they could have been harder on me to prepare me for the real world.
I learned that being a man is all about providing for yourself and your family. You need to contribute to the house beyond financial means. Help out with the dishes, do some yard work, etc. Do those chores you were supposed to do as a kid. Beyond that, you do need to put food on the table. If that means taking on two jobs, then do it. I'm working on weekends and going to school on week days. If I could fit work in the evenings, I'd be doing that too (I do need to sleep though).Responsibility is a hell of a motivator.
If you know another person is relying on you, it makes you get your shit together pretty quickly. If you're married, and you're concerned you're not doing enough, then do more. Don't ask what needs to be done, just find what needs to be done and do it.
It's that simple. If it means bringing more money in, then try your best (these times are tough, so it's easier said than done). If it means working at McDonalds even though you have a Masters degree, then so be it. It's not demeaning, it's providing for a family, and that is NEVER demeaning, no matter how it is done.
A true man will do anything to make sure the family is taken care of.
4. Live Like You're in the 30's
This one is probably the easiest to accomplish. You've had a long day, on your feet for 8 hours, and the last thing you want to do is go to the gym. That's fine, I feel that way too.
With my workload, I am exhausted when I get home from a long day. I really don't want to lift weights after doing so much work in the shop (although, to be fair, see #1 for how I get my extra exercise in).
The easiest way to relax while still taking a load off is by not using any TV, computers, iPods, iPhones, whatever. Want to take a load off? Go for a walk to a park with your friends or significant other. Get out, go somewhere, but do it by foot. Go to a library, read a book, walk back home. It's simple.
Live like you're in the 30's and avoid all of our modern conveniences. If you want to just relax, do it away from home and get there by foot. When you start to realize how much more enjoyable life can be without technology, you'll also learn to appreciate the technology we have more without abusing it. You don't need a car to go to the store 5 minute away, get off your ass and walk there.
People swoon after the simple life of the 30's for a reason. It's because there was no bullshit to keep us distracted back then. We had to strive to survive and if we didn't we died. A mentality like that goes a long way in days like these.
5. Learn to love living.
I was a pretty miserable bastard for the longest time. Truth be told, I still have my moments (clinical depression is pretty hard to deal with, but that's for another story). However, when I decided that my life was shit because of the choices I made and made a change to better myself, I learned one thing that will make you the strongest.
Living life is great.
Motivation to make yourself better is the best conditioning tool that no one talks about. Being fat and sad is one thing, but being able to break yourself out of that is tantamount to moving the Pillars of the Earth. It's the hardest thing a person can do. If they're battling clinical depression, that adds another layer of difficulty. A motivation element needs to be present in order to be a better person. This is the part that needs a person to take a huge look inside themselves to see what is needed to change their life.
For me, it was realizing that I needed to provide for a family that I wanted to start. My wife saved me from drinking myself into an early grave, but it was the personal choice of wanting to give her a better life that made me snap out of "Child mode".
If you're finding it hard to do anything in life because you just feel it has no point, you need to realize that it has a point. Living isn't easy, and it does suck at times, but you have to take time to step back from the shit and smell the roses that are planted in it. For guys in the forces, you know what I'm talking about. "Good Livin'".
As a welder, I have a better analogy: Life is tempered by the heat of our tribulations and the cooling of our triumphs.
You need to push through the shit and learn to enjoy your accomplishments. Failure does happen, and it can be tough, but the key is to remember that no matter how many times you fail, you can always try again with knowledge gained from your failures. If you found a marriage that didn't work, you'll know what not to do next time. If you had to quit a job or got fired, you'll know what not to look for next time. It's all about learning from failing.
Failure is the biggest key to success. If we never fell as babies, we would never have learned how to get back up.
I hope this ramble has provided something for those who are in a slump like I was. I've not been posting on here for a long time because I've been busy bettering myself. Thanks to this site, I've found some tools to make accomplishing the above 5 steps easier, and now I hope the anecdotes above will make it easier for you to get back on your feet.
I know writing this crap has been a bit challenging (not as challenging as reading it, HAH! *rimshot*), but it'll prepare me for my next goal. I hope to complete a GORUCK Challenge around my 30th Birthday in September (depending on if I can get to one around then, might be a bit later or a bit earlier depending on how things go). If I can accomplish that, then I'll know that I've made some serious strides in my life from someone with no point in life, to a man who can take care of anything that may face him.
Thanks again for reading.
Edited by mikejulietpapa, 29 January 2013 - 12:28 PM.
Fixed formatting that got screwed up by forum migration.