A Virtue of Vigour – 2: Don’t Try To Buy Results

Let me begin this with by going through an experience I had when I first came to live in Japan many years ago.

My first job in Japan was at a major English conversation school. Known as “Eikaiwa” they are found throughout Japan as both chains and private businesses. Many are run by foreigners and often with their Japanese wives as business partners. There are also a large number of Japanese-owned companies as well. I see these everywhere in Japan and it wasn’t long before I began to observe that despite the prevalence of English schools and education opportunities, the English speaking ability of the majority of Japanese people remains generally poor. Considering how much money is spent both privately and publicly, this should be more controversial than it seems to be.

There are many reasons for this but the reason I want to consider here is the passivity of the average adult customer. While I worked in this school, I found the adult students did very little preparation or study before coming to class. The school I worked at was very expensive and a lot was provided to prepare for the 50 minute lessons students had weekly. The advantage of the actual lessons was being able to talk directly with a native English speaker, so I was trained to maximise the conversation within each lesson. I took this seriously and endeavoured to do it. I was repeatedly frustrated in my attempts as most students simply did not prepare for the lesson or really try to speak when given the chance. I was constantly having to stop myself from doing all the talking and doing my best to get them speaking. Even though they had workbooks, CDs and grammar explanations, they simply were not practising at home and therefore not getting the most out of their investment of time and money. A few were simply wasting both.

How does this relate to health and fitness? Well, years ago when I was still in high school or early in university, I joined a gym. I wanted to lose weight and get fit and I thought by joining a gym I would be able to achieve that. My mindset was that I needed to join a gym in order to get the results. I needed to pay for it and the rest would happen as a result. Of course I wasn’t all bad with it as I did go a couple of times a week but what I ended up doing was walking on a treadmill for thirty minutes and maybe using a few machines on my way out. I didn’t really try to get better or even follow the program they gave me in the beginning. I didn’t challenge myself at all. I also did nothing about my diet which was really my main obstacle to getting what I wanted. Ultimately, going certainly didn’t hurt but it also did nothing to make slimmer or healthier.

It would have been better if I’d saved the money on the gym and just gone for a walk every other day. But I thought that I needed to spend money on something and that would get me the results I wanted. It seems to me that this is a quite common way for people to think. Whenever you hear excuses about why someone doesn’t do/have or achieve what they want to do, you often hear that it is because they don’t have something they believe is necessary to achieve it.

This is a major mistake in thinking. This will get you nowhere. It is also one of the major reasons I wanted to write this book. The next fundamental change you need to make is in thinking that you need to buy a diet program or exercise machine or have the write clothing to achieve good health and fitness.

You don’t.

Many businesses bank on you thinking that and want to take advantage of it. And this is why jokes about dusty exercise machines in front of the television exist. If you’re watching television enough to the point where you see advertisements like this, then the first problem is the amount of time you are watching television.

Let me be clear that this doesn’t mean diets don’t work. It doesn’t mean exercise machines can’t be beneficial. It just means that the key part is always what you do with them. As an example to illustrate this, I’ve met people I hardly recognised because of the weight they had lost on a diet program. Obviously, they should have been proud of this and I was happy to see they’d improved their health. Most of the times I’ve seen this happen, I’ve also seen the person a year or more later with all the weight back on again. Perhaps you’ve experienced this yourself or know someone similar.

If you go on a diet and follow the instructions exactly, you’ll more than likely lose weight. Then say you get to the desired weight – then what? Are you going to maintain the diet? Keep buying the same products? You will probably get right back into the same habits again and slowly gain back the weight you lost.

As I’ve already said in Step 1, you must think long-term. You must be looking to create habits that you’ll stick to or you will get nowhere long-term. The goal is long-term.

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