How do you fit it in?!
Have you ever had someone ask you, “how do you have time to fit the gym in? I’m so busy I just can’t seem to get there!”. Let’s be real for a second: this is one of the most annoying things another human can say to you. But why is it so annoying? And why do people say things like this in complete ignorance of how offensive it can be?
First of all, it’s irritating because it implies that you simply have the time to train. The inference is that you are less busy and somehow have a convenient chunk of time laid aside for the gym. This is complete nonsense of course. You don’t have the time for the gym, you make time for the gym. Everyone is busy and there is nothing more irritating than someone who thinks they are busier than everyone else.
Ok, that covers why it’s annoying. But why do people say it when we all know that there is likely little difference between how busy we are and how busy they are? Why do they feel like they can’t fit training into their lifestyle?
What’s a Lifestyle Axiom?
This is where the concept of a Lifestyle Axiom comes into the picture. In mathematics and philosophy an axiom is a statement that is taken to be true without being proved to be true. In Euclidian geometry for example, it is an axiom that two parallel lines never meet. Euclid does not prove this. He takes it as self-evident*. A group of axioms forms the foundation of a system from which mathematicians deduce all other facts that follow as a consequence. These logical consequences are known as theorems. From Euclid’s axioms, he manages to deduce, for example, that the angles in a triangle always add up to 180 degrees. This is a theorem. Critically, theorems rely entirely on axioms. There can be no theorems without axioms and your choice of axioms affects which theorems are produced.
You can think of certain lifestyle factors within this framework of axiom and theorem. And thinking in these terms can help you design effective habits. You see, for those that regularly get to the gym their training time is an axiom of their lifestyle, it is a Lifestyle Axiom, whereas for those who don’t train it is a theorem.
Let me expand. For me, my training time is set aside as a matter of course. My training time is an axiom of my time-management system. I start with the assumption that for 90 minutes between 2pm and 3.30pm I will be training. From there I can make deductions about what else will fit in (these are the theorems!). For those that don’t train on the other hand, they begin with various other time-management axioms, whatever they may be: work, other hobbies, intellectual activities, seeing friends etc. From that collection of Lifestyle Axioms they work out if time for the gym can be deduced as a theorem and find that it can’t. Training does not follow as a consequence from their axioms. To be clear, I am not passing judgement here. If you choose to axiomatise other activities rather than the gym, there is nothing morally wrong with that. It is just a matter of a different set of priorities.
Using Lifestyle Axioms to optimise your routines
Thinking about your lifestyle in terms of axioms and theorems can help you design an effective programme for reaching your goals. Let’s look at how you could do this.
First of all, we need to be specific about what a Lifestyle Axiom can and can’t be. An axiom should be a specific use of time, an activity that you can choose to do. An axiom cannot be any kind of outcome. For example, it doesn’t make sense to put down “Eat well” as an axiom. Eating well is an outcome and follows from certain other activities. If you want to eat well, use an axiom like “Do food prep twice a week” and “Make weekly order from Ocado and plan meals”. Likewise, “Get fit” is not a lifestyle axiom, it is a desired outcome; it’s a goal. If you want to get fit you need to introduce an axiom like “Go to 5 CrossFit classes per week”.
The more specific an axiom, the more effective it will be. For example, you could adopt “Train 5 times a week” as an axiom. But you would be much better off going with the following instead: “Attend CrossFit classes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday”. If you can define days, times and deadlines as well as removing any possible ambiguities, you will have a much more powerful axiom.
Second, it’s important to realise that you need to limit the number of axioms you adopt. If you have too many, it won’t be possible to maintain them all and they therefore lose their status as axioms. I would suggest 3 as a good place to start. Now, this doesn’t mean that you can only ever have 3 axioms. Once you have fully absorbed an axiom as a habit, you can replace it with another. For example, to be frank, I don’t really consider training to be one of my axioms because training is so ingrained in my lifestyle that I don’t need to consciously axiomatise it. That leaves me a space for an alternative axiom instead!
So you need 3 axioms that are based around specific, repeatable uses of time. What I want you to do, right now, is think about your fitness and health goals and write down the 3 lifestyle axioms that you think would best serve you in achieving those goals. For reference, here are mine:
(1) Meditate every day immediately after teaching the morning class.
(2) Do ROMWOD 5 times a week.
(3) Prepare food and meals every Thursday and Sunday afternoon.
An axiom forms the logical basis for everything around it. Realising that your lifestyle is formed of a collection of axioms, conscious or not, and their logical consequences gives you the opportunity to make sure you adopt the most effective axioms for yourself, given your specific goals and ambitions. Adopt 3 fundamental Lifestyle Axioms and allow them to build an edifice of success all around you. Let me know how you get on.
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*For you nerds: of course we now know that there are other kinds of geometry where this is not at all self-evident. But let’s leave that aside for now!