Its been two years since I moved out of the center of Tokyo into my current digs; a 55 year old traditional Japanese house on the side wooded hill near Mt Takao. After what was in all respects a major life transition, I spent a lot of that time quietly thinking about who I was and what I represented, not only as a fitness advocate but also as a basic human being.
I was out at an informal dinner the other night with some students of a dance class I have been attending, and as usual for a new member of any group, I was grilled over the course of the night as to my regular activities and lifestyle. This gradually fed through the table of classmates to the teacher of the class, who ended up coming to sit next to me near the end of the evening.
“So, let me get this straight. You run 5 days a week, do yoga every day, meditate every day, lift weights and kettlebells regularly. Wow- you sound busy!”
I just smiled in response, because in fact that’s not the complete list of activities either. What was interesting for me was that some people saw my regular schedule as extreme, when if anything, it is not.
But it is consistent.
There was a moment early on when I had just moved and I was struggling to adjust to being on my own again so after many years. I realized that out of all the things I was interested in doing, I needed to prioritize those which I wanted to achieve results with, and then focus on those activities alone.
My life, as with many of us today, was just too damn busy. I was doing too much, easily distracted by our constantly updating social media lifestyle, stressed at work and the sum of all this plus the life change meant that I felt down a lot of the time. I needed to find my motivation again.
I realized quite quickly that some serious decisions were crucial. How I spent my time each day, and whether these activities were truly enriching my life or simply just aimless distractions and time fillers.
We all have justifications, often repeated ad infinitum to friends and family but ultimately sounding hollow to us in our private moments. I wanted to get beyond that and just be.
There were many revelations.
More important to me than just having a strong body was to have a holistic, body, mind and spirit approach to fitness that embraced all aspects of my daily life, and worked around a 9-5 job.
I am not a professional athlete, nor a one-discipline specialist; but just your average “Joe the plumber” type with a regular job trying to achieve some kind of healthy balance in my life. And if other people found some resonance with that, to share what I know.
I read a lot of books, talked with some of my fitness friends from all over the globe, did a lot of meditation and contemplation, and started off from scratch again by adding one regular activity at a time to my schedule. For me, that in itself was a major achievement. Once I felt confident that the activity was a part of my daily routine, I added another, all the while making sure I wasn’t overloading my life, and that all necessary parts of my daily needs were being met.
That meant making some major changes to lifestyle.
I also started stripping away the unnecessary. My eight year affair with social media came to an end, and while I had reconnected with many old friends because of it, from then on it would be up to more traditional methods of communication to keep in contact. The constant drone in the background was no more, and I found it much easier to focus in on my goals because of it.
Television? Gone. I got into reading again in a serious way and if I needed entertainment, there were plenty of movies and you tube to watch.
One book that particularly stands out from the last two years was The Four Agreements, a life changing book for anyone of any background in need of a personal refocusing.
I got back to basics with training as well. Tim Ferriss’ Four hour body, David Kessler’s The end of overeating, books on Ayurveda and all kinds of topics, all inspired and helped me focus in on want I wanted to achieve..
I started paying more attention to my food intake and habits around food and drink. Cooking for yourself can be very rewarding if one makes the effort to keep it interesting and spice things up a bit once in a while. Variety, in all things, is key. Laziness means making poor diet choices, and ultimately, you need to be responsible for your own health. A fact so often forgotten in today’s modern lifestyle.
I made a big decision to simplify me as well. Learn to listen better and say less, to be what I believed and to let it manifest naturally as my own personal, living truth.
Beginning, middle and end. Follow the process and enjoy the journey. Results come as a natural bi-product, but are not the main focus. Smile more, complain less. Beginners mind.
Two years later, I count my blessings. A healthier life, better sense of balance at work, a smaller group of real friends and an ongoing desire to contribute to this world that I live in as a giver, not a taker.
Its small steps maybe for some, but for me, important ones that cover many miles.