Those that know me know that I am no superhuman or bodybuilder. Really, I’m an average joe with one quirk: I am OBSESSED with everything fitness, from nutrition, to powerlifting, to long-distance endurance running.

I work out (or do some form of physical activity) every day. I am MUCH much more fit at age 24 then at age 18, and I plan on keeping that trend well into my 60’s and beyond. I want to do things in my 70’s that puts my 24 year old self to shame. I know many people, including my father, who are on this same journey.

In fact, I’d say one of the greatest gifts given to me were what I’d call the “habits of fit”. I’m lucky to have a father who ingrained these habits in me.

Side note: “habit” may be too lax of a word. “Addiction” or “obsession” is much more accurate.

Here’s the Habits of Fit that I let be my guide:

1. Leverage identity.

On twitter today I saw a picture of a body-builder on vacation. He was getting slammed for looking a bit on the pudgy side. How is this helpful? His identity is so wrapped up in have a rock-hard physique that deviating from that brings immense pressure to get back into shape. Public shaming isn’t what we are going for. However, being known as a “fit”, “athletic”, or “active” person definitely is. In fact, thinking that about yourself is the most important part. It’s too far out of the realm of possibility for me to ever consider myself “lazy” or “out of shape”. Not possible.

2. Do something every day.

Do something active every day. It can be a two hard session at the gym leaving you sweat drench OR it can be 20 minutes of stretching. In fact, when starting it is CRITICAL to make it small and achievable. When I need to take a rest I still follow this rule: Go for a walk, Stretch, Clean up the house, Rock Climb, play a sport. Just do something; this signals to yourself that you are NOT sedentary any day.

3. Everything is easy once you arrive at the “new normal”.

Going from 0 to 1 is much harder from 1 to 2. What do I mean?

I’m saying that going from WAY out of shape, 25-30% body fat (if you’re a guy) is much much harder than leveling up if you’re already at 12% body fat and in good overall health.

It is amazing how many people let themselves go completely to the point of becoming borderline or actually obese. The sheer amount of health problems and diseases this sets you up for later in life — ranging from Alzheimer’s to cancer to cardiovascular disease — should be enough to not let this happen, but nonetheless it appears to be the NORM for adulthood.

How am I one of the only people that finds this completely unacceptable.

You wake up at age 65 partially obese and barely able to walk up the stairs. Somehow this is considered NORMAL in late adulthood. Wth?!?!

This is a literal disease. Physical and mental.

Crucial belief: the human body CAN get stronger and healthier in each passing year.

Scientists have found no reason that humans can’t keep on living forever. There’s no evidence that humans have to die. There’s no actual expiration date. How awesome is that?!

The point is, society’s expectations CANNOT be your expectation. If getting out of shape is normal for you that’s a huge issue. In many countries this isn’t normal. It’s not fat-people’s fault necessarily. We’ve been sold a pack of lies: the traditional Western diet, convenient lifestyle, over-consumption, over-medication, addiction. It’s all connected and somehow now considered normal.

Define your own normal. For me that is 9–12% body fat (male), able to do 75 pushups, 25 pull-ups, squat 225lbs, run 10 miles whenever I want. Not everyone needs to have that high of benchmarks. Many can and do have higher normal benchmarks than I do. I’ve slowly improved these numbers over the years. But the point is I don’t let these numbers backslide. Where they are is normal for me.

4. An obsession with performance

If you’re only reason for hitting the gym is to look good that ain’t gonna cut it. Eventually you’ll get uninterested and get fat again, then have to willpower yourself back into the gym. Worst of all, the gym will be a place of pain and suffering. Not fun.

That’s working out from a place of fear. Whenever I’ve done that, that’s when I’ve been closest to burnout.

Being obsessed with improving your play or performance is completely different. It’s exhilarating.

I’ll often catch myself envisioning the next workout, reading articles, following new people on Twitter, seeking out advice, closely tracking my progress on my Notes app.

There’s nothing better than watching yourself do things you never thought you could — whether it’s running a half-marathon, bench pressing 300 lbs, doing 10 pull-ups. It’s addictive.

There you have it! Those are the Habits of Fit that I follow. They are truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Thanks for reading!

Working on The Habit Loop.