I was reading an article in my local paper about a 40 year old man who tried P90X. He saw success with it, but ultimately abandoned it because it made him tired and sore, the diet plan was costly and it took up too much time. In his opinion, getting stronger wasn’t worth it and the pursuit of it made him a lesser boyfriend, citizen and employee. He decided to go back to walking and well, I guess a cheaper diet. It made me sad to see that being fit and strong and healthy and the pursuit of it somehow wasn’t worth the time. He did mention he’d take up walking. I know walking is good exercise, and it’s a great first step, but walking for 20 or 30 minutes a day isn’t something we should strive for. It’s a bare minimum for basic health.

P90X is by no means perfect- I did a round or two of it and frankly it got boring. But for a commitment of 6 1/2 hours a week in your living room, it is effective. The diet focuses on healthy foods- veggies, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains. They of course, push unneeded supplements and shakes, but if you skip those, the eating is hardly outrageous compared to eating out or buying a ton of convenience foods. It’s not a huge deal- you do the workouts in your living room. They scale the intensity and show a lot of alternatives. At 40, someone should be able to complete the DVD.

I’ve moved on to CrossFit and love it. It costs a lot of money, but yields great results. A time commitment of 5 hours a week and a commitment to eat healthy foods is all it takes. I’m sore at times, tired at times, but I’m building a body that will carry me through life well. I realized that I have friends that easily spend $125 a month on a bar tab. 5 hours a week? It’s not a lot of time. I’m enjoying getting stronger. It feels great to achieve new PR’s at the gym and I love the feeling of hoisting a loaded barbell overhead. It’s freeing. My body looks better than ever.

But IMO, the most important factor is that I am setting myself up for long term health and wellness. I’m nearing 40. The age where things start breaking down. We need to be strong- strong to lift the 50lb bag of dog food. Strong to carry in the groceries. Strong to have a body that holds up to weekend warrior activity. When strength and fitness become some option for people concerned about their appearance and “waste” of time, people begin to break down. All the sudden grabbing that box of copy paper at work pulls a back muscle. A ski weekend tears an ACL. We begin to lose mobility. Moving becomes a struggle. That’s not good. Except perhaps for drug companies, Lazy Boy and the cable company. Strength is not optional for a well lived, healthy life.

At some point, we also have to eat right which regardless of low carb/high carb/vegan/paleo manifesto you follow, does consistently include eating quality foods that cost a little more. Except for when they don’t. My dinner last night was a steak ($6) and a side of asparagus ($2). So $8. What at Appleby’s is $8? OK, I could have McDonald’s. On Friday, my dinner was end of the week cheap- grass fed ground beef ($2.50) sauteed with frozen asparagus ($1.50) and spinach ($1). My meal was $5. I’ve had more expensive cups of coffee. Eating healthy is not more expensive than eating crap. It’s a lame excuse. Plus, you know what’s expensive? Statins, diabetes drugs, heart meds, treatments for conditions caused by eating crap- often skin issues, sometimes joint pain, acid reflux.

What bothered me most about his article was that the time and money required to get fit and strong somehow made him not as good of a person. That’s bullshit. Letting yourself get weak and unhealthy and unfit means you get hurt and sick. How can you be a great parent if you can’t keep up with your kid and thus have to limit physical activity? How are you a good boyfriend if you can’t help your girlfriend move because you have a “weak back”? How are you a good employee if you are sick all the time? How are you a good citizen if you are using a ton of medical resources in your 40’s for preventable issues? In order to be the best people we can be, strength, fitness and a healthy diet is the most critical cornerstone. Cutting corners or putting it on a back burner for others ends up hurting you, and in turn hurts those around you.