Most Malaysians aren’t exercising enough. We’re currently the fattest country in Asia – with over half of our adult population being overweight or obese. It’s time we got off our couches and did something about it.
Guys – we need to be exercising more.
But wait – it’s not that we don’t want to do it, it’s just that…
“I’ve got no time to work out.”
I get it, you’re busy. You work 10-hour shifts every day, and when you come home, the last thing you want to do is go for a run or lift weights. You just want to sit back, chill out, and munch on pizza while watching Altered Carbon.
But if you do have this lifestyle, think about it for a second – why are you working so hard?
Chances are, you’re doing it so you can have the life you always wanted. You want to earn enough money to buy a house, to travel, to spend time with family and loved ones.
But you’re not really working hard for the money. You’re working hard for what you think money can buy you – time and a better quality of life.
The crazy thing is, you can’t have those if you’re not healthy.
As a thirty-something year old, I’m already seeing the effects of people taking their health for granted. I’m seeing friends ‘trade’ their youth and health for their jobs. They work long hours, hoping to ‘buy’ their health back later.
Here’s the catch though – you can’t.
Regardless of how rich you are, you can’t buy a cure for cancer. You can’t buy a new heart after it’s been damaged by obesity. You can’t buy a new liver after getting liver cirrhosis.
Even if you could afford the best medical care in the world, most of these (very expensive) procedures are simply life-extenders. They can’t revert your life to how healthy it was before.
At best, you’re just delaying a slow, painful death.
So, when you tell yourself that you “don’t have time to exercise”, what you’re really saying is that health isn’t a priority.
…which is fine, if you’re ready to dig your grave and lie in it. But if you’re telling yourself that you’re just doing this until you earn enough to buy your health back, I’m saying bro – don’t kid yourself la bro. It doesn’t work that way.
I know work is important. But it’s not the only important thing in your life. Yes, we should all strive for financial stability, but life isn’t just about working till you die. It’s about quality too. I don’t care how rich you are – you can’t enjoy life if you’re riddled with disease and health problems.
WHY YOU SHOULD FIND TIME TO EXERCISE
For one thing, keeping healthy and exercising really isn’t time-consuming at all. Don’t be fooled by advertisements saying that you’d need to spend hours and hours at the gym.
You’re not training for a bikini/bodybuilding competition. You just need to maintain a healthy body – which takes as little as 30 minutes of exercise each day.
30 minutes is easy to fit in, even for the most hectic schedules. Wake up one hour earlier and schedule a quick run. Or, buy a skipping rope and skip for thirty minutes. You could even just do 30 minutes of push-ups during lunch.
Just move and sweat for 30 minutes a day. That’s it.
I mean, let’s be honest – we spend more time being stuck in our Malaysian traffic jams. You could easily skip the jam and exercise in your office instead.
Another excuse I often hear is,
“I don’t know what to do.”
C’mon guys – ignorance isn’t an excuse anymore, especially not in the 21st century. There’s Google, Instagram, and about a billion apps to help you with your health and fitness.
But even if you don’t know what to do, here’s a beginner’s tip – break a sweat.
Whether you’re running, doing squats, or just waving your arms around like those Chinese aunts and uncles you see at parks every morning – as long as you’re sweating, you’re doing it right.
See, fitness doesn’t have to be complicated (although it can be). Your body was designed to move – so just keep moving. Even if you decide to just walk everywhere, that’s a million times better than doing nothing.
Again, don’t be intimidated or fooled by advertising. Remember that the fitness industry is now a trillion-dollar industry. Trillion, with a ‘T’.
It’s against their interest to tell you that fitness is simple. For them, the less you know, the more you’d be willing to pay.
For example, the other day an ex-colleague sent me an advertisement for this product:
It’s basically a weight-loss product – involving a diet of just biscuits and soda water.
And it costs several hundred ringgit.
If you knew the basics of nutrition, you’d laugh at that. Why would you pay several hundred ringgit just for someone to tell you to eat six biscuits a day?
Crazily enough, it sells. I know at least one person who’s bought it because she has no idea what good nutrition is.
This random company shows up, tells her “we can tell you how to lose weight”, offers a nonsensical product, and boom – she throws money at them.
The fact is, there’s a lot of bad information out there. These health product companies make fitness complicated and difficult, so you’ll pay for their help and guidance. The less you’re informed, the more you’re likely to pay.
But don’t be fooled. The key to good health hasn’t changed since when humans first started walking. Be active, eat lots of vegetables and natural foods, and get enough sleep.
HOW TO KNOW WHAT TO DO
When you’re first starting out, kiss.
I mean, keep it simple, stupid.
Start running for 30 minutes, three times a week. Eat lots of natural foods and vegetables. Avoid processed food. Drink little-to-no alcohol.
That’s enough to start with. In fact, it’s probably good enough to keep you moderately healthy for the rest of your life.
BUT if you want to know more, build up slowly from the basics. Get to know other people on the same health journey as you. Ask someone experienced, who can educate you properly.
There is a lot of bad information out there, but as you learn over time, you’ll know what’s B.S and what’s not.
“But Khairie,” you say…
“I’m too weak/ fat/ old/ young to exercise.”
No one really says this out loud, but I think it’s something a lot of us tell ourselves. We make excuses for why we shouldn’t get off the couch.
I understand. If you’ve never exercised regularly or taken your fitness seriously, starting out is scary.
As humans, we tend to avoid things we suck at. We don’t like feeling incompetent. So, we make up excuses why we can’t do something.
But excuses are just stories we tell ourselves to feel better about not doing something. We can change that story if we wanted to.
I mean, do you really…
Think you’re too weak?
No, you’re not.
HOW TO STOP MAKING EXCUSES
Here’s how to stop making excuses – when you find yourself making up excuses for why you can’t do something…
Do it. Immediately. Do it so fast, your mind has no time to debate with you.
See, when we’re about to do something we don’t really want to do, we start debating with ourselves. We know why we should do it.
But then we think of reasons we can’t. We rationalise why we can’t do it.
We go back and forth, spending all that energy just trying to make a decision.
In the end, we get so tired that we lose by default. We pick the easier route because we’re exhausted from the mental debate.
So, don’t waste time and energy going back and forth. Decide now, and act on it. Immediately spend your energy and effort on that thing you know is good for you.
After all, there’s never a workout you regret.
“Exercising isn’t fun”
I get this one a lot. “But I don’t like gym!” they say. “It’s boring/ makes me feel claustrophobic/ I hate the crowd,” etc.
To which I say, okay, sure, no problem. Maybe gym’s not your thing, and that’s totally fine.
What I don’t believe in, is when someone tells me they hate all physical activity. Exercise is a well-known way of releasing endorphins, the feel-good hormones. It also regulates your mood, gives you energy, and improves memory.
How can anyone not appreciate that?
If you don’t like the gym, no one’s forcing you to do it. But do whatever it is you’d rather sweat for. Whether it’s swimming, yoga, badminton, or even hiking – just exercise.
My point is, there’s always something physical which is fun for you.
HOW TO MAKE EXERCISING FUN
First, make sure to do something you love. A lot of people exercise only as a means to an end. That’s why it’s boring.
You see this with people who spend hours and hours of running on a treadmill, even though they hate running. They do it to achieve a certain look, without caring how they get there.
This makes them miserable and eventually, they quit.
Exercise is exercise. You can be miserable, or have fun burning calories. Since they’re the same, you might as well do what you love. Remember, the idea is to work out for your health and general well-being, not just to achieve a certain look and quit.
Secondly, don’t treat exercise like a job. Again, you’re not training to be a navy seal. The idea is to make exercise a part of your balanced lifestyle.
Don’t overwork yourself to the point of exhaustion. Instead, just do it in whatever amounts you can. Treat it like how you’d do a hobby – something you do regularly for fun. You don’t have to work out until you throw up every time you work out (unless that’s fun for you, then go nuts!).
As long as you keep associating exercise with positive feelings (instead of pressure and exhaustion) it becomes much more fun and sustainable in the long-run. You’ll look forward to working out, instead of dreading it like the plague.
That’s just a few tips on why you should exercise. Are there other reasons you’re not working out? Tell us in the comments below!