As an aspiring minimalist, I love to get rid of anything I think of as ‘extra’. Extra clothes, extra gadgets… and extra fat. I love to exercise, and I never see it as a chore. Rather, it’s something I do as a hobby, like curling up and reading a good book. But it took a while to get to where I am, and I learnt a lot of harsh lessons over the past year about how to get really healthy. As always minimalism has played a massive role in teaching me those lessons and showing me all of the things I did and didn’t need.
1. No gym
Last year, I ditched the gym. At first, I liked paying for it because the pressure not to waste my money pushed me to go. But only begrudgingly. I began hating going to the gym simply because I knew I had to. When I cancelled my membership, I felt liberated. I developed a much better attitude towards getting fit, I did it because I wanted to, not because of anything outside of me, which is a much stronger and longer lasting motivation.
2. No ‘health-potato’ equipment
Looking back, I didn’t know how the hell I fell for those late night telecommercials that sell exercise equipment that promise miracles. “In just 10 minutes a day you can look like this!” and so on. Ugh, my family (including me) fell for them too many times, paid too much for bogus pieces of metal that never worked and got stuck with trying to get rid of it. Patrick Reynolds, one of my most admired fitness gurus, calls them ‘health-potato‘ equipment, a reference to couch potatoes who want to get fit but are too lazy to do it properly. Taking a step back, you can see that this kind of thinking just doesn’t make sense.
3. No ignorance
These days, you just have to turn your head around to see something, anything that recommends some kind of health trick or hack or an advertisement for magic pills or a new superfood. You can choose to believe what people tell you, or you can choose to find out the truth. Your own research and education about the way your body works, what really is in the food you eat, how it affects you and how it is made is irreplaceable.
4. No fancy stuff
When people want to get fit, sometimes the mix up spending a lot of money = weight lost. This is one of those harsh lessons I learnt. Getting really state of the art trainers with air cushions on the bottom doesn’t mean that you are actually running. Getting expensive yoga equipment doesn’t mean you are actually doing yoga. When a lot of people decide they want to get fit, like at the beginning of the year, sports equipment sales go through the roof because people think that if they buy the equipment, they’ll be ‘fit’. But in the end, without the right kind of motivation, the equipment just becomes like a gym membership, pressuring and constraining because of the guilt of already investing load of money.
5. No shortcuts
Another simple thing to realize, and yet it took me so long to do it. There are no easy ways to get healthy except by getting healthy. That means exercising more but more importantly, eating well. I used to expect that I could eat chocolate bars and fairy cakes as long as I could run it off. It may work for some people (my brother eats like a pig but is as fit as a lion) but it definitely doesn’t for me. I was in denial, always wondering why no matter how much exercise I did, I saw little results. And then one day, someone told me “only 30% of weight loss is done in trainers, 70% is done in the fridge“. In other words, what you eat has much more an impact on your health than exercise does. Both are important, but one makes much more of a difference.
Finally, I just wanted to add that getting fit for me wasn’t all about losing weight. Yes, it was part of it, but not because I wanted to conform to social views on beauty or any of that rubbish. Instead, I wanted to feel good about myself so for me, during every workout I felt like I was earning some currency to put into my self confidence bank, which was hovering dangerously low for too long. Now, I can say that in that sense, thanks to these lessons, I’m much richer than ever before.