Imagine if you will, you are in the middle of the ocean alone floating. In the far distance you can barely see the tip of an island at the edge of the horizon. You have no boat, just a life preserver keeping you from drowning and is seemingly locked on to you. All you have out there is yourself and your wits.
Each moment you are in the water you have three choices; swim towards the island, float there, or try and drown yourself. Happy days. Now you spend the first day swimming hard towards the island. At the end of the day the island seems no closer. The same results occurs on the second, third, fourth, and so on. (Yes somehow you haven’t died of dehydration or malnutrition, it’s for the sake of the story). By the tenth day the island finally seems a little bit closer. The image of it on the horizon is now a fraction larger. You are tired, but the only option is to keep on going or float there and do nothing. There is no one with you to complain with, this is your journey alone.
By day twenty some people just give up and float. The progress is so slow a week’s worth of effort shows no real change. Some folks actively try and sabotage or take off their life preserver. But you, you keep swimming. After one year you can almost see how big the island truly is. After a decade you are now close enough to see individual trees, and maybe one day you finally get on the island.
Now one thing you didn’t know is each day there was a current that was pulling you away from the island. So on the days you didn’t swim at all you were farther from the island than when you started on that day. On the days you swam for only half the day you just managed to keep your position in the water. Other people on their own journey just swam for half of the day thinking that was enough and after years of trying never got any closer. Some folks never swam at all, since it looked so difficult and the island so far away, they just floated on to be lost in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight.
This was a metaphor for life; specifically, health and fitness. Each day you make decisions that either take you closer or further from your goals. Each decision is so small you don’t often think what is happening in the grand scheme. That one extra soda or cookie is stopping you from swimming closer to your goals. One moment of one day it doesn’t seem like much. But, when you add up all those little choices of taking the stairs, eating your damn vegetables, not having dessert with every meal like a damn child, you get closer to your goals. Every decision you make counts, each workout you do and don’t do all add up. Unfortunately, life isn’t a video game where you can work for two hours and make great progress. What you need is to work hard for two years, two decades. Change your thinking from the short term, but long term, and how each day you are closer or further from your goals.
It is easy to only think about the here and now, but in the venerable words of the Ice Cube: “life’s not a track meet, it’s a marathon”. Know that every decision you make matters, a tenth of a percent gain each day is a one hundred percent difference in less than three years (MATH!). It is hard to keep this in mind sometimes, but remind yourself that we are all playing the long game and must act accordingly.
Good luck on your health and fitness goals. I hope all of you are doing well. If you have any questions or comments about this feel free to add them. Thanks again for taking the time to read this. If there is anything you’d like me to write about this please let me know.