Fitness Meditation
Darel Rex Finley, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017

Six months from now, when I’m in fantastic shape, it won’t matter whether I followed my fitness program on this one day. So I’ll take it easy today, and get serious about my program tomorrow. If that’s a good excuse today, it will be a good excuse tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that.

Didn’t I already use that excuse yesterday, and many days before? Haven’t I been using that excuse for years? That means that the program is supposed to start today.

Maybe this one day won’t be visible on my body six months from now. But doing my program today will get my mind and body accustomed to doing it, and help me to learn not to blow it off; to learn the consistency I will need to make it to a great shape six months from now.
My fitness program has a free day every week. So blowing off the program for one day must be OK. Why can’t that be today? My free day comes after at least six days of sticking to the program 99-100%. If I haven’t been on the program for the past six days, free day hasn’t yet arrived.
I already have this half-eaten box of donuts. It would be wasteful to throw it away. I’ll finish eating it, and then get serious about my fitness program. The waste of throwing away a few donuts will be insignificant six months from now, but it will be vital to have learned not to eat unhealthy foods just because they’re available.
I have some junk food lying around. If I eat it, it will be gone, and it won’t be tempting me anymore. Then I can get serious about fitness. If I eat that junk food, I will be giving in to the temptation, not conquering it. To conquer the temptation, I must get rid of that junk food without eating it. If it’s perishable I should throw it away, and if it’s non-perishable I should stash it in a cabinet for free day.
A friend of mine is flying in this morning and spending the day with me. It would be hard to squeeze in my workout today. That friend will be gone tomorrow — I’ll get back on my fitness program then. If my friend is visiting only today, then squeezing in my workout will be difficult only today. So I’ll do it — and then it won’t be so hard after my friend has left.

My friend may be visiting only today, but there will be other disruptions to my schedule. If I don’t learn to work my fitness program around such obstacles, then I’ll never learn the consistency I’ll need, to get in really great shape.
I just broke my program by eating a piece of birthday cake. Since I’m now off the wagon, I may as well really take advantage of it, by stuffing my face for the rest of the day before I have to get back on the program tomorrow morning. I know that everything I eat counts — if I get right back on the wagon now, then the damage is minimal. But if eat like a pig for the rest of the day, the harm to my fitness will be immense.
I’ll get back on my fitness program when I can find just the right time and special place to do it. Then I’ll stay on it for the rest of my life. I’ll be “getting back” on my fitness program many times over the course of my life, maybe even several times per year. I cannot wait for just the “right” time and place to get on the program, because then the lapses in my program would be long and harmful, instead of brief and harmless.

Special places and times are where and when I should contemplate my progress so far.
There’s that pain in my right elbow again! I guess I can blow off exercise, and eat junk food, for a couple weeks until my elbow heals. How much can I do with this elbow problem? Can I still eat right? Yes. Can I do cardio exercise? Yes. Can I do weight-lifting exercises that don’t use my arms? Yes. Can I do arm exercises that don’t cause this elbow pain? Yes. Can I do arm exercises that can cause this elbow pain, but moderate or modify them so they don’t? Yes. So I can do virtually everything my fitness program requires, while my elbow heals.
I’m about to lose my job and have to go find another. Or my relationship is in trouble. Or my aunt is dying. Plus I feel discouraged and dissatisfied about my life in general. When all these troubles are out of the way, and my life is going great, then I’ll get serious about my fitness program. There will never come a day when my life will be free of troubling situations. But if I get in great shape and stay that way, everything will be better and easier. I must learn to stay on my fitness program while riding out troublesome waves in my life.
My job is such a drag. I need to eat some junk food to get through this workday. Then I’ll get serious about fitness this evening when I’ve escaped my work environment. My job isn’t going away anytime soon. If I want to become truly fit, I must learn to get through the workday without relying on junk food.
Fitness is for young people, in their teens and twenties. Getting out of shape is an inevitable part of middle age; I guess I should just accept that. Entering middle age, I should be fitter than I’ve ever been. I didn’t know how to get in shape and stay in shape when I was younger, but by this time in my life I’ve accumulated the knowledge and experience to know how to do it and how to stick with it.
One more big splurge, then I’ll be ready to start my fitness program. Fitness starts with the decision not to splurge.

I’ll probably have to restart my fitness program several times over the coming months. A big splurge (or two or three) each time will be murder on my physique.
Whenever I decide to get in shape, I always feel horrible within several hours of starting my program. Can I really tolerate feeling that way for the rest of my life? Maybe fitness isn’t for me. Coming off of a continuous sugar overload feels bad because it’s a form of withdrawal. In a few days or so, the withdrawal will be over and I’ll feel fine again, while continuing to do my fitness routine.
I just know that eating healthy food is going to taste bland or even horrible. And exercising is going to be brutally painful and exhausting. But I guess I have to force myself through that every day if I want to be fit...right? Doing the fitness thing has never been horrible when I’ve done it in the past. The food always tasted good. The exercise was always invigorating. The idea that it’s going to be horrible is an illusion in my head, with no basis in my past experience.
The main benefit of exercise is to burn calories. Then I can play fast-and-loose with what I eat. It only takes a little more food to bring back the calories I can burn with a lot of exercise. The benefits of exercise are that it makes me stronger and healthier, reduces my appetite, and gives me the positive attitude I need to be able to stick to a healthy eating plan.
Fitness centers are for fit people to show off how fit they are to other fit people. Fitness centers are for out-of-shape people to get in shape, then stay in shape.
I wish this barista who just sold me a coffee could see me fit, instead of flabby. But do I really want to go to all the trouble of sticking with a fitness program for months, just so some random person can be mildly impressed with me for maybe one minute? I want to look and feel fit all the time, every day, in front of everyone I meet, everywhere. That’s what my open-ended, continuous fitness program is for.
I did my fitness program for a few days, then I fell off. I’ll try it again in another few weeks or a month or two. Eventually I’ll get the hang of it. Learning to stick to a fitness program for months at a time is a lot like learning to ride a bicycle. I can’t ride fifteen feet, fall off, then put the bike in the garage for a few days before I try again. I have to keep getting back on the bike again and again, until I get to where I can ride it for long distances without losing my balance.
I’ve gone from out-of-shape to pretty-good-shape before. I can do it again if I have to. My goal is to get there and stay there. I don’t want to be in great shape for a day or a week — I want to be in great shape continuously, week after week, month after month, year after year.
I can’t wait until all these workouts pay off and I have a great body! Then I can get off this program and relax. My fitness program is for life. It’s not going to end when I’m in great shape; it’s going to continue so I can stay that way. By the time I’ve achieved a fantastic physique, my fitness program will no longer feel imposing or inconvenient — it will have become a routine part of my life.
If everything in my life would just calm down and be really consistent from day-to-day, week-to-week, then I know I could get in shape. That’s going to happen soon, I hope. Over the next several months (the time it will take me to get in shape), things will continue to happen in my life. Exciting things will happen, boring things will happen. Frustrating things will happen, satisfying things will happen. Routine things will happen, unexpected things will happen. Some things will change, other things will stay the same. If I ever want to be in shape, then I have to stick to a fitness program through all those things as they happen.
See that fit person over there? What’s their secret to fitness? Whatever it is, I wanna start doing it next Monday! See that fit person over there? Their secret to fitness is that they’re doing the fitness thing today.