Stick To These 6 Pillars To Stay In Shape For The Rest Of Your Life

When I was 13 years old, I began a paper route. For an hour and a half, I would carry 56 newspapers, distributed between two bags. During the winter seasons, I would walk; any other time, I’d bike or take a scooter (before I had confidence in biking again).

I did this every day, excluding Sunday, for 5 years.

Beyond this, I was never big on driving a vehicle. I still insist on walking or biking to locations, barring some exceptions.

While my upper physique is questionable at best, the same can’t be said about my legs. When I first started to get to the gym, I struggled with 10-pound dumbbells. Leg presses—I could handle a few plates.

The reason I bring this up is that this is a prime example of exercising with a purpose. Exercising for fun.

Or, sort of, in my case, profit.

I know that with personal trainers, one of the key questions they ask you is why you are doing this in the first place. I agree with the overall sentiment of it. After all, I have several reasons why I want to work out. Outlining one or more of those reasons can give us extra incentives to go to the gym and follow through with whatever fitness plan we have.

But it’s very rare for someone to say they want to do this for the sake of having fun.

Whether it’s losing weight or some other personal advantage, the fitness world has fueled our obsession with minute details, precise exercise programs, particular diets, calorie counting, and other things. It’s distracted us from looking at other advantages beyond our personal health—or even our personal entertainment.

With that in mind, I found some particular pillars of lifelong fitness. Adopting these ideologies means planning for fitness in a more engaging and effective way. Not only would it challenge your body physically, but mentally too.

#1. Stop Caring About How You Look

What mattered in fitness in the 1980s was how well you looked in a Speedo or a bikini. Miss America pageants cared about various details, like whether your butt had enough jiggle to it or how your cheekbones were structured. For those in bodybuilding, it was all about the softball biceps, six-packs, and single-digit body fat.

If you lacked those kinds of qualities, you weren’t fit or beautiful.

Just as it was back then, achieving those particular benchmarks would take years of training. I still remember Arnold Schwarzenegger talking about how he was doing push-ups as a kid and how that helped him in bodybuilding as he grew up. Every day, before he could eat breakfast, lunch, and supper, he had to do a series of push-ups.

Today, we know better. We should have started working out more seriously years ago if we wanted to see those results.

Even the almighty single-digit body fat standard is incredibly rare today. Elite athletes in their prime aren’t even in that range. In terms of peak physical health, seeing someone with extreme leanness and muscularity is akin to believing Barbie has a figure that is realistically possible for all women to achieve.

It’s not.

The first pillar of lifelong fitness isn’t to focus so much on how you look but on your body’s performance. Pay more attention to having the perfect form for a bench press. If you’re not there, then aim to finish the exercise.

#2. When You Train, You Train For Performance

We all have reasons for why we work out, but for many of us, our reasons can be a source where we lean too much into something. Wanting to lose weight is reasonable. But some of us—myself included—went so far as to dive into fasting in order to shed more weight.

It worked, but at the cost of putting myself in starvation mode. And after a 6-week challenge, I gained all of that weight back and then some.

It’s not so different from taking the suggestions that you find in magazines, where they claim you’ll lose double-digit body fat in a week. These claims are frequently deceptive and will harm your body in the long run.

What this pillar represents is not focusing so much on tiny details all of the time. Yes, you need to have a proper protein intake if you want your muscles to grow. But that doesn’t mean you need to only have chicken for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

Some protein is nice, and you can spread it throughout the day. But you can incorporate other foods. Having a dish with a rainbow of colours is far more appealing and satisfying than just having more chicken.

You’ll find this approach to be better overall and more enjoyable.

#3. Do Anything, But Never Nothing

One popular diet that I tried long ago was the Paleo diet. This subscribes to the idea that we should forgo grain and legume products and stick to meats, fruits, nuts, and root vegetables. I did a 30-day challenge in which I did see results in.

But I want to focus on one of the arguments for the Paleo diet: that this was how our ancestors were eating, so we should be eating more like them.

There is a subsection of the fitness industry where fitness gurus romanticize the idea of being like our ancestors.

That we shouldn’t be sitting around for too long.

That we should be eating in this fashion.


There is no argument that this was how our ancestors were eating; however, modern science argues that this isn’t how we should all be living to enjoy peak physical health. As I’ve stated numerous times, living a healthy lifestyle does not always entail frequent visits to the gym.

For many, getting out to exercise for 150 minutes each week can do wonders. This is on top of strength training twice per week.

A lot of us struggle to do that, but a simple fix to this is to keep things simple and within reason. A gym works best for me because I don’t live far from one. I bike or walk there, which does add up.

For those of us trying to work towards an ideal figure, being active for 30 to 45 minutes per day can be a good benchmark to work towards.

#4. Train, Don’t Exercise

From my own personal experiences, I know wording can make a huge difference. I think one of the biggest barriers for me is the simple fact that I think of my training as exercising or a workout.

For many of us, it all means the same thing. But I still recall an image from self-improvement that shows how words are so powerful. It begins with a dejected person at the bottom of the steps saying, “I won’t.”

As the man climbs up the steps, the phrasing changes to “I should,” “I could,” “I will,” “I can,” and “I did.” It reminds me that wording is everything.

When you think of exercise, you might think of it as a chore or something that requires little planning. As a result, you approach training with a mixture of methods. Monday might be strength training, Tuesday might be running a few miles, Wednesday is more strength training, and Friday is some more cardio.

Even though you are active, it’s not always improving your performance. Leg day would still kick your ass despite doing cardio.

When you think of training, there is some level of rigidity to it. Some form of consistency Training is your way of telling your body, “This is how I want you to adapt.”

And adapt they will.

#5. Always Mix It Up

Your body needs a breather, of course, but that’s not only relegated to rest periods or rest days. I’m also talking about taking a break from particular exercises.

The reason my upper body is terrible—aaside from my shoulders from carrying all those papers—iis because I neglected it. My legs are great because, all through my childhood and teen years, I used my legs for a lot of things. The majority of them involved biking, walking, or running.

I would’ve been fine if I just included some pushups in there.

But even when you have formal training, it’s important to mix things up. The overuse of one group of muscles results in the neglect of another. You see this in plenty of sports where a baseball or basketball player dribbles, swings, or pitches with one dominant hand while ignoring the other.

Injuries can be avoided by simply having that player train other parts of their bodies.

Adopting this philosophy into your training can make a big difference. Even in the case of sports, having a three-week on, one-week off plan can be very helpful.

#6. Listen To Your Body

Similar to nutrition, training is something you need to pay attention to from an autonomous standpoint. Training is painful, but it shouldn’t be that painful.

When you do experience pain, that’s when you change your routine. That could be doing something entirely different or going down in weight. Regardless, the goal is to adapt and pay attention to what your body wants to do and to ensure that what you’re doing is beneficial to your body.

And keep in mind that there is no shame in taking a lighter route. Similar to the idea of e-bikes, when something is easier, it doesn’t always mean you’re going to take the easy route all the time. E-bikes can help you on those steep slopes, but users of e-bikes bike for longer and farther than even athletic cyclists.

You can break a sweat lifting 250 pounds eight times, but you can do the same thing at 125 pounds for 25 reps instead.

And if your body tells you to stop after your first or second set of three, then don’t be ashamed to quit early. Unless you want to be a competitive athlete, there isn’t any point in doing a particular exercise a certain number of times.

Adopting these pillars into your life is a tricky thing, but you’ll find these pillars to be very effective. They have a balance between doing things consistently before you begin to fine-tune your training regimen.

And that’s really what matters when it comes to health. Regardless of what you want to achieve, taking a slower and steadier route tends to produce incredible results. So long as you’re spending more time on the planning part.

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