After spending the past 16 years or so as a Fitness Coach, I can tell you lots of ways to fail on your fitness journey. The most common way I see people botch their health is by trying to fit it in the gaps.
I’ve seen countless people come into the gym with good intentions to join, get started with a trainer, and sign up for classes. They are eager to learn, eager to get started, and excited to see results. The problem is that they think they’ll be able to do everything they used to do, yet somehow fit in an hour of training plus commuting to the gym.
They think they can just cram fitness into the gaps of their existing life. It doesn’t work that way. No life change can.
Last year, Tali and I made the commitment to get out of debt. We also made the commitment to get married. Two big decisions all at once. It should be obvious that the lifestyle that got us each into debt as single people would not be able to continue if we expect to get out of debt as a couple. We can’t just pay off debt in between the gaps of our existing life.
So we’ve sacrificed.
We’ve temporarily shifted what it is that we fit in the cracks. We don’t save money and pay off debt in between everything else. Now we earn as much as we can by saying “yes” to almost any hours we can work. Creating our wedding and paying off our debts are our life for now, and other things, important things, are now residing in the cracks. Things like:
Time with friends
Art and music
We’re still doing all of the above, but none of it is in a care-free indulgent way. Everything on that list is now fit in the little gaps. We schedule it in. We jump on little opportunities. When there’s an unexpected gap, that’s when we get to do something from that list…assuming we have enough energy to do anything.
I’m writing this at work, an hour earlier than I needed to be here so I could take Tali to the Nike Campus earlier than usual. I’m fitting this blog in the gaps. We said, “Yes” to a new opportunity for her there. This means that sleep, sex, and meditation, all got put aside. Later today she’s working outside her normal schedule again, this means her weightlifting gets pushed aside. This week, travel and time with family and friends are filling the largest gaps, so my writing is being done in those little spaces, 10 minutes before work, 5 minutes while waiting in the car, 15 minutes while the rice is cooking.
The list I wrote above has some very important items on it. It’s our life. Our “real” life. And right now, our life is being lived inside the little gaps between work.
Some days, it’s inspiring. I’m so proud of Tali and the work she’s doing. I’m proud of us. We’ve remained focussed and the progress toward our wedding and debt freedom is tangible. We’ve paid off all of our small consumer debts. We are now down to family and friends, two vehicles, and one student loan. By the time we get married in September, we’ll probably have paid off all family and friends, leaving only our last three debts.
The wedding is coming along (thanks to a ton of help from Tali’s family and our friends). It’s going to be awesome! Small, simple, and uniquely “us”. But these days, even a small and simple wedding is not a cheap wedding.
Some days, even with all that tangible progress, it’s not so inspiring. Some days it’s just fucking hard.
When we’re short on sleep. Exhausted from gym life. Socially over-stimulated. Dealing with decisions. Trying to be available for family and friends, and feeling like we’re failing at that. When the only time we’ve had for intimacy just so happens to be time we’re too exhausted to move.
…and I’m back. I had to go coach for a couple of hours. Where was I?
…fitting life in the gaps.
I’ve never seen it work successfully.
But there are some key differences here. The most important being this; If we continue to practice good habits and growth, we should only have to have a wedding and get out of debt this one time. Fitness is not a one-and-done pursuit. It’s something that has to be lived out, with no end in sight.
The progress we’re making isn’t just progress on a never-ending journey. There’s a clear destination for the financial side of the work we’re doing. On September 14th, we will be married. Sometime in the 18 months or so following that, we will be debt free.
With every debt payment we make, we’re buying back our future freedom to prioritize the important parts of our life.
When 40% of our income is freed up to invest however we want, and we have money in the bank. We can take more risks, we can indulge in more time, we can live more life.
We’re out of balance. It hurts. But we see it for what it is- a wind up for something better.
Our wedding and getting debt free (or more accurately, the work to earn the money for those things) are where most of our energy is spent, for now. Life is being lived between the gaps. But when the vision of a debt-free marriage becomes our reality, life will once again take the forefront. Taking on extra work will be relegated to the gaps, if and when we want to.
Fitting important things into life’s gaps is not a good long-term strategy, but it can be an effective one as long as there is a tangible, objective end in sight.
Part 3 of our Debt Free Love Story will be coming soon…
I’m publishing a book. In it, I’M REVEALING A NEW APPROACH TO ACHIEVING WHAT WE WANT IN LIFE, WHILE LEARNING TO FIND JOY IN THE PRESENT. LETTING GO OF GUILT, STRESS, AND DISAPPOINTMENT, BY LETTING GO OF TRADITIONAL GOAL-SETTING.
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My name is Cody Limbaugh. If you liked this, you might also like my other content.
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Live All Your Life is a project of discovery. My aim is to live with intention, to get the most out of life, and to share my discoveries with you.
Providing value is important to me, so I often write about techniques that I’ve found to work well in my life.
I think having rich experiences is a critical component of living well, so I often share my travels.
It’s important to me to develop a deep sense of curiosity and relentless personal development, so I also write about learning and various topics and skills that I’m currently working on.
I’ve been a fitness coach for the past 13 years. I now write for three fitness sites.
I believe that authenticity is critical to living a good life, so I strive to rise above cultural norms and expectations.