The 12 Gifts of Fitness, Day 12: Waking Up…To Everything

The 12th gift of fitness is that it gives us the ability to wake up in our lives.

This image needs no additional caption. Fitness wakes us up to life. That is all. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
This image needs no additional caption. Fitness wakes us up to life. That is all. (Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Fitness gives us the physical and mental fortitude to pay attention to the right things. It gives us the ability to know which things are the right things to be paying attention to, and which noisy distractions aren’t worth our time.

It gives us the physical confidence to try new skills at any age. It gives us the ability to look in the mirror and see a strong, accomplished athlete, no matter how we compare to anyone else out there doing the same thing.

There is something deeply life-altering about committing to a life that includes regular fitness training, regular activity, regular exercise, and regular commitments. When I swim twice a week but forget to run, I miss it. There is something about this “Every 48” concept that is a complete fit in my life today. If I don’t push myself in a workout at least once every 48 hours, I start to feel just a little bit tired, a little slower. And that can be a self-fulfilling prophecy: slowness leads to tiredness, and that leads to fatigue, skipping more workouts…and oh, doesn’t that (fill in name of your favorite junk food here) start to look really good all of a sudden?

I crave exercise today. This is someone who used to eat chocolate and fast-food hamburgers on a daily basis typing these words here. Life really can change. We change our sense of who we are. It happens slowly, cell by cell, over time…until one day, we just realize that things are different.

Junk food doesn’t talk to me anymore. Swim workouts are fun. I watch Ironman triathlon videos on YouTube when I’m taking a work break. Or videos on how to improve my freestyle technique, or my flip turns.

Waking up to life means that every day is an opportunity to reach a new goal. A goal just for that day—and that’s enough! Some days, it’s a mile-long swim. Some days, it’s getting out for a run with my latest playlist. Some days, it’s a spin class, or a session on a rowing machine, or a yoga class, or a lovely, meandering walk through the woods.

Waking up to life means that even though we’re older than we’re used to be, we can still learn new tricks. (See those flip turns again. I had to learn them from scratch. Again, YouTube videos. Awesome.)

And finally, waking up to life means being able to solve problems in a positive way. Finding not just “a” solution, but the best solution for the moment. On Christmas Eve this year, my gym was offering just one spin class for the day, and I thought it would be an excellent way to start off the holiday. So I showed up promptly at 9 a.m. The only problem: a whole lot of other people had shown up at 8:45 a.m. There were no bikes available. And no other classes that day.

The old me? I would have gone home, no doubt. Maybe with a spin through a coffee drive-thru for a mocha.

The new me? I got on a boring ol’ stationary bike in the weight room, clipped in to the pedals, and rode for half an hour at 90 RPMs anyway. I fought through the fatigue and breathlessness of that workout (it’s been a while since I did that one) and said to myself, hey, I know how to positively solve problems now. I need a workout. I can’t do what I planned to do. Let’s see what other options I have, given the equipment I have available to me.

And another Every48 workout was in the books—just like that.

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