I find it incredibly interesting the things a person’s priorities (what they focus on) can tell you about them.

For instance, I make FI a priority in my financial life. I save for my 401k first, my Roth IRA second, and then spend most of what’s left over. Clearly, having a brand new car or top of the line outfits complete with matching accessories aren’t a priority for me.  Instead, I value financial freedom and time spent with friends.

Even the kind of friends I hang out with emphasizes my priorities. I don’t hang out with people who go to the bars every weekend to “get fucked up yo”. I like hanging out with active people or my fellow nerds.

However, I can’t say the rest of my life is effectively prioritized.

I realized this the other day when I got annoyed at my cat for coming over to me and bumping my phone with his head so I’d put it down and pet him instead. I went out and spent a lot of time, money, and effort to bring him into my life, and here I am ignoring him in order to spend more time online, looking at cat pictures. WHY would I ignore my own floofball, who I love with all my heart, to look at pictures of other people’s cats?!

Look at my cute kitty!
Look at my cute kitty!

I had another moment when climbing Mt. Si during Camp Mustache. I couldn’t even make it a mile up the path before I had to stop and take a breather. I made a variety of excuses at first.

“The air is thin here. I’m from the Midwest where it’s flat and lower in elevation.”

“I don’t have time to work out during the week.”

Halfway up, I realized how pathetic I sounded. I’m a single 25 year old woman with one office job. Of course I have time. I have nothing but time when I’m not at work. But instead of prioritizing my health and fitness, I cave to the easy path instead and take a nap. Or hang out on my couch and watch a movie. Or reading a book. Or playing a video game.

I stopped making excuses and instead just said I’m really out of shape. I may look like I’m in good shape, but I’m not. Too many hours sitting in front of my computer at work and snacking on free candy is starting to have an effect on my body.

I’ve never not been in shape. I swam competitively for ten years through my senior year of high school, while also playing organized softball and doing a variety of other physical activities (walking miles around, upside down, and all over the local Girl Scout camp comes to mind). I always had someone else telling me how to work out and what precisely I needed to do. My senior year of high school I was not only swimming roughly 4 miles a day, I was also in a weights class instead of gym class. I was ripped. Shredded. 115 lbs of pure muscle. I could bench 150 lbs and squat almost 3x my body weight.

After high school, I went to college and joined ROTC. They made us work out 3 times a week, and encouraged us to do more outside of the organized workouts.

Then, I left for basic where I had very large, very loud, and sometimes very scary people yelling at me to provide motivation during our PT sessions 6x a week. I was incredibly motivated and left basic in great shape. I started to slide in tech school where we still had to work out, but it was almost a joke after basic. Google something called the Keesler Shuffle if you don’t believe me.

I came back to college and my saving grace was walking/biking all around campus and the town to get to places. I was forced to burn off all the calories from the substandard food that I got for free from the cafeterias thanks to my scholarship. I have no doubt I ate more since it was free than I would’ve had I had to pay for it all.

So then I graduate from school and go to work. 8 ish hours a day of sitting in front of a computer. My attempts at making myself work out have worked for a bit, but have mostly failed. I was pretty religious about going to work out before my trip to Australia, but after that I didn’t have a really super duper compelling reason to go. At this point in life, telling myself I need to do it for my health fell on deaf ears. At least I was in charge of my own food and eating more or less healthy. I was getting local, organic, antibiotic free meat from a nearby farm that was super lean and super delicious, but also pairing it with ice cream (on occasion) and alcohol (more than occasionally).

Little by little, so gradually I barely even noticed, the inches started to creep on. The work pants I bought 3 years ago as an intern, that I had to hold up with a belt, are now more than a little tight. My jeans don’t fit. Shirts are starting to be filled out instead of hanging loosely like they used to.

So, starting today, not tomorrow, not next Monday, I’m making working out a priority for me. Just making a declaration doesn’t mean anything without any actionable steps, so I’m laying those out too:

  1. Ride my bike to work every day between now and June 25th. I’m participating in a 25 mile bike ride for MS so I should really start biking to get into shape for that. That’s 3 miles a day roundtrip, and more if I take the loop around the building before or after my work day.
  2. Do 50 pushups and situps a day. It’s not that bad if it’s broken out into smaller chunks throughout the day.
  3. Attend one workout class after work a week. I have a fitness center I can use for FREE in the building and I’ve barely even been inside it.
  4. Go play pickup soccer on Thursdays and softball on Sundays.
  5. No snacks from work! I’m only going to eat food I bring in, which is only healthy stuff at the moment.

I think these steps will help me get back in shape sooner rather than later. I really don’t want to have to go out and buy new clothes because I was lazy!

What’s a priority for you? What do you find yourself neglecting?

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7 thoughts on “Priorities

  1. I had the same thought recently about my dog. I was sitting on my bed looking at cute pictures of him as a puppy when he was bored out of his mind, lying there on the bed too. I realized I was ignoring him to look at a cute picture of him. It was so ridiculous!
    I can completely relate about making working out a priority too. I was a college athlete but that was 5 years ago. I no longer can define myself as an athlete and I don’t work out regularly which disappoints me. I have been trying to run recently which is helping. Good luck!

  2. Working out is a priority for me. I try to go 4x a week. A new priority is riding the new bike I bought. I’ve ridden it every day since I bought it on Sunday. I’m going away for a couple days this weekend so won’t be able to ride, so getting my fill 🙂

  3. I’m new-ish to reading FI blogs, but I’ve seen “health = wealth” paraphrased everywhere and I totally agree. Good for you one taking charge of this, just like your financial situation!

    I went through a similar realization with respect to my body last year, around May. I signed up for a 5K then, then went running on the weekends and worked more activity into my days. My SO gave me a FitBit for my July birthday and it really helped keep me on track. I started daily pushups too, worked my way up to 80/day. I’ve lost ~35-40 lbs (depending on the day) and I generally feel so much better. I took advantage of my work’s health incentive program and hit all their milestones easily with these changes, so I’ll even be getting a discount on my employer-based health insurance next year! Maybe your megacorp has something similar you can do.

    Maybe you won’t have the problems I did with my 38 year old body, but I’ll tell you a few of the problems I ran into as a word of caution. The running eventually gave me knee pain from pounding the pavement. The pushups were great, I totally got strength and muscle back, but I pushed myself too hard and ended up with shoulder pain. After some physical therapy, I’m on my way back to good health with the knee, but I’m still working on the shoulder. Now I’m walking (not running) ~ 6 miles a day with no problems on the knee. I have a slightly shorter commute than you that I’m doing by foot most days. It is lower impact, but it still helps me keep the pounds off and feel great doing it. I hope I can get the shoulder sorted out, then I’ll be in good shape.

    TL;DR: I use to be a lot more active too, then I wanted to get back in shape. After a few years stuck in the office, I had to take it a little slower after landing myself into the dr’s office due to being overly ambitious. Good on you for taking action before you got to FI!

    • My shoulders are basically garbage at this point- 10 years of swimming and softball at the same time, plus then a few years of military service killed them. So yes… good call on easing into the workouts. I took part in a 22 a day challenge and am working up from there!

  4. I agree with you in doing 50 pushups/sit-ups a day (even if broken out). It hurts just to think of it. Like a true FI believer, I cancelled my gym membership & instead I’m doing P90X at home b/c:

    1) it’s free (after I bought the DVDs)
    2) no commute (no gas expense)

    All the best…

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