It’s Not Just About the Obstacles

This post is part of my effort to tell the story of my recent health journey.

Getting rid of some of the obstacles that built up and stopped me from committing to exercise was an essential part of my path to better health, but it wasn’t the only factor. I need to talk about the elephant in the room:

Back in my late 20s and early 30s, when I was overweight and sedentary, my health simply didn’t matter all that much to me. I didn’t care about it.

It wasn’t just the cascade of obstacles that stopped me, it was the fact that getting healthier wasn’t important enough to me to bother overcoming them.

Even now, with some of those obstacles eliminated or lessened, it still wouldn’t be enough if I didn’t have reason to care about my health.

Theater had been my passion since high school. When I left it behind in my late 20s, I had no new passion to replace it. I was single and had been for some time. I had wonderful friends and family but few deep relationships.

I was aimless and uncommitted. Drifting. Passionless.

In that state, I just couldn’t find a reason to care all that much. I had no vision for my future and so nothing substantial to work toward. I had no one depending on me. My health and well-being didn’t seem to matter in the grand scheme of things.

In my early-to-mid 30s, I found a new passion—librarianship. I started to see a meaningful, mission-driven future for myself. I met my wife and, soon enough, we began envisioning a future together. There were things I wanted to be able to do in this future that I wouldn’t be able to do if I didn’t get myself healthy.

That made it matter.

When it was just about me and my future alone, I couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort.

But when it became about my wife and I, our future together, our future as part of a community, that was enough to make my health important to me. Important enough to commit to it. Important enough to put in the effort.

Really, this—more than eliminating obstacles—was the true key that unlocked my success. Because no matter how many obstacles you eliminate, you still need to care enough to bother.

It’s sad that my own health and future, in and of themselves, weren’t enough to make me care. Perhaps it’s sad that my health and future had to be about something more than me for them to finally matter to me.

But at least it matters to me now.

If you truly want to improve your health and well-being, something has to motivate you enough to put in the work. To make the commitment. Either for your own sake or because it matters to someone else.

Sometimes, a health scare is what does it: a terrifying diagnosis or a crisis of some kind which leaves you with little choice.

In my case, big changes happened in my life and those changes impelled me to health. I’m lucky and grateful that these changes were mostly good things.

This is an aspect of health and fitness that too often goes unmentioned. There’s no prescription or formula for how to make your health matter to you. There’s no workout program that can answer to this need.

Your health needs to matter to you before you even start a workout program.

One would think that your own health and well-being would be intrinsically important, but we all know that’s not true. Many people just don’t care that much about themselves.

No matter what health and fitness program or formula you follow, it won’t work if you’re not motivated to commit to doing that work.

Something has to make you care.

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