On the schoolyard field of battle known as gym class, I made the geeks look good. I was such a spaz that I always got picked last when teams were being selected, and the gym teacher seemed to hold me personally responsible for it taking him eight years to finish a phys ed degree.

I always came out of dodge ball with head trauma.

In university I got the "freshman 15" factored by three, and after seeing a vacation beach photo decided it was time to get in shape for the first time in my life. That was 1993, and I've never looked back.

Nowadays, I’m pretty ripped. Fitness isn't just a means to an end for me. I've never been tempted to buy some body-bow-blade-ellipto-flex-ab-cruncher because such things are crap and it's not a healthy attitude. I see exercise as not only about achieving goals, but a righteously ass-kicking attitude that needs to be embraced with vigor until the day I dirt-nap. Here are my 10 personal fitness commandments for living exercise that have kept me going strong for almost two decades.

More from AskMen: Father's Day Gift Ideas

The 10 Fitness Commandments For Everyone Slideshow


No. 10 Make Time

Lack of time is the No. 1 excuse people provide for not exercising. Nielsen reports that Americans average four hours of TV time every day; there is a logical disconnect here. I know that most of what is on TV is crap anyway, and by making fitness a top priority, I find the time.


No. 9 Thou Shalt Feel The Love

It's impossible to sustain something you hate long-term, so I don't concern myself with what is the better calorie-burner or muscle-builder, but instead experiment with a variety of things. I embrace those that feed my fitness soul and eschew others. It must be fun and enjoyable for me to want to keep doing it.


No. 8 Thou Shalt Get Instruction

Remember when I wrote, "Feel the love?" Gaining confidence and competence at an activity is what allows that love to flourish for me. Sucking at something again and again and never getting any better does not lead to passionate adherence. This doesn't mean I've spent a fortune on high-priced trainers, but instead engaged in continuous learning for my chosen activities, be it via the internet, books, magazines or the guys I drink beer with.


No. 7 Thou Shalt Spend Money

I buy a new pair of $150 runners every five months and am about to drop an obscene amount of money on a new road bike. Something like running is not about putting on those old Magnum P.I. shorts from gym class, a pair of tennis shoes and heading out the door, because that’s a recipe for failure. Regardless of the activity, there is value in having some appropriate clothing and equipment to improve both attitude toward the activity and performance. I don't golf and I don't own a boat. Fitness is my hobby and that's where my extra cash goes.


No. 6 Thou Shalt Eschew Quick Fixes

I remember a long time ago when I was 50 pounds fatter and tempted by pills and powders. I even once Googled "liposuction" to see what that was about. I soon learned that the noble tortoise is the one who wins the race when it comes to getting in shape. The hare sprints 50 yards, gets tired and says: "Screw it. Too hard. I quit." When it comes to fitness, there is no such thing as "quick and easy." I was a doughnut-scarfing couch potato and had to accept that it was going to be a hard slog taking many months. A journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step, which is why it was important for me to learn to love that journey.


No. 5 Thou Shalt Be Competitive

There are a number of ways to be competitive. It is proven that people who track their progress with fitness have higher adherence rates. It can be as simple as endeavoring to lift more weight, do more reps, more sets, run farther, cycle faster, and so on. I'm always setting new challenges: striving to bench-press 315, run a sub-4-hour marathon and eventually I plan to complete an Ironman. Knowing I have these goals on my fitness bucket list keeps me trying harder.


No. 4 Thou Shalt Sweat On Vacation

Sitting poolside and sucking back 600-calorie margaritas is not conducive to sustaining fitness. I don't want to have to spend a month burning off flab gained at an all-inclusive resort. Instead, I plan vacations wisely to incorporate exercise. To help stay ahead of the extra beer intake I've used the gym on cruise ships; explored the area around my hotel via hikes, cycling or running; and have gone swimming and sea kayaking.


No. 3 Thou Shalt Suck It Up

There are days that I just don't want to do it. This is not the same thing as a required rest day, being injured or sick. Sometimes my body really says "no" and I must listen. However, there are many other days where the weather sucks, I'm busy, my kids are being brats, my iPod isn't charged -- there will always be excuses by the bucketful not to exercise, and these will add up until a regular exercise regimen becomes a regular couch and TV regimen. When I find myself making excuses, I just stop, suck it up and do it anyway.


No. 2 Thou Shalt Fuel Properly

I know that unless I'm training at Olympic-marathoner levels, it is pretty much impossible to out-train a bad diet. It's far easier to take in an extra 1,000 calories than it is to burn it off, so in order to stay lean I must be careful about caloric intake. What's more, I understand that protein has a vastly diminishing return after a certain point, so this is something that I do not need to go overboard on. Unprocessed carbohydrates are a key component of my athletic performance and for my hardcore exercise pursuits.


No. 1 Thou Shalt Never Stop

I've had 44 trips around the sun and am not yet in the best shape of my life. There will come a day when I must slow down -- a little -- but I am committed to continuing my fitness journey right up until I get creamed by some futuristic bus while riding my dilithium-crystal-fiber bicycle along a scenic mountain road in the Mars colonies. I won't let work, wife, kids or other life challenges derail my efforts. By putting fitness first it makes me better at everything else I do. So I keep doing it.

previous next