Picture of what an elliptical machine may look like

So one thing I haven’t talked about up until now is how I stay healthy. I know that asking an author for fitness tips is like asking a squirrel to do brain surgery, but it’s still important. We’re all mammals and being creative is no excuse to be fat. So that said, how does a socially-anxious introvert get fit? Let’s take a moment to talk about it.

To begin with, all my exercise tips are based on what I have found works for me. Got it? No ‘one simple trick,’ no ‘lose 30 lbs in 30 days’ programs. I’ve tried them all, and they all suck. Want to know what does work for me? It’s easy:

I stop looking at fitness as a problem to be solved, and instead look at it as something to be curious about. Look at it look a system to be hacked. Take all the judgement out of the equation, and just look at physical fitness and health by themselves. What do I want? What have I tried? What have I learned? What works? What doesn’t?

The answers to those questions are different for every person who asks them, but they will give you some solid insight as to what your physical health means to you. For instance, it’s easy to say “I want to be cut and beautiful,” but then the follow-on question is “is that reasonable given my current physical state, genetics, or circumstances?” Then I take it a step further: “is there something I could change about my physical state or circumstances?”

By being curious about the problem, judgement-free; I’ve found that I can arrive at some insights about fitness and health I never would have gotten to before. As far as exercise is concerned, I’ve had to learn what works for me by simple trial-and-error. Some people skip rope, others swim, I like the elliptical. It’s low-impact, it’s in the spare bedroom and I can do it pretty much whenever I want. It doesn’t even cost that much; I kept watching Craigslist and one day a local gym went out of business. I was able to get a decent elliptical machine for pennies.

As far as the daily workout is concerned, I do what works for me. Crank up the Netflix, or some tunes (Playlist at the end) and get started. Usually, I get my social media time in while I’m doing my cardio so it works pretty well for me.

Now, focus that toward food. No programs, no Jenny Craig, and no Weight Watchers. Why do I eat what I eat? Why do I like what I eat? It’s not just about only eating healthy food. I’m a total stress-eater. So if I binge out on potato chips because I’m stressed – and who isn’t stressed these days? – I look for cheap, simple alternatives (and there are a million of them on /r/loseit and /r/eatcheapandhealthy on Reddit, just an FYI) and test-drive them. Some don’t work, and others do. I’m able to treat the entire process as a science experiment and for whatever sick, twisted reason, that’s what works for me.

Another experiment I’m working on, and again this is just me. Sugar. I know it’s bad for you. And yet, sugar. I love sugar because, reasons. No need to have a long, articulate discussion on the dangers of sugar and the American obesity epidemic. My love for sugar isn’t rational, it’s emotional. So to do that, I had to come up with a way to emotionally break up with sugar. So that’s how I decided to look at it.

Rather than sugar as sign of bad willpower, I started to look at sugar like a bad relationship. Sure, in the beginning, things were great. Sugar was my best friend, the one person I could always count on. Sugar was always there to make a good time better, and a bad time easier. But sadly, sugar’s changed. The relationship stopped being healthy years ago. Sugar started messing with my head, my heart. Sugar started making demands on me that weren’t reasonable. Sugar started working against me, making me feel bad. It took a long time to see it, but now I do: Sugar and I had to break up.

Now at this point, I should say: I’m still with sugar. I get weak, call Sugar up, and we go hang out. Sugar’s as crazy as ever, but I know in my heart that it’s not a long-term thing. Eventually, when things are better, I’ll be able to make the last good-bye. Change my number, go no contact. For right now, I just have to deal with Sugar on a day-by-day basis.

In the meantime, I have the rest of my life to live – I work out to live, I don’t live to work out. You won’t see me in the gym, pulling endless chin-ups or wearing a muscle shirt. Me and my Dad-bod are going to focus on being as healthy and active as we can. Enjoy the ride, make it fun. So let me end this by giving you one of my workout playlists. I hope you find it inspiring, as you start or continue your own fitness journey.

Listen to ‘Workout – Pump’ on Spotify