I’ve thought a lot about preparation in the past few weeks. In this profession I discuss all kinds of goals and options to getting people fit for life. When you think about goals you think about some thing, whatever that is, that is in the future and has an end point. Many of the goals I hear from people are around losing weight, getting fitter, feeling stronger, looking better, having more energy, etc. Every single person I talk to has some goal that they want to come quickly and they have this vision of themselves after achieving it. However, in the past two years, because of my current health condition, I have realized that fitness and training is about so much more. As I think about preparation I am reminded of the whole purpose of CrossFit. It is something that is discussed at great length, but is the first thing people lose sight of when they start CrossFit. We are told in our level 1 trainer course and in our CrossFit level 1 textbook that we want to put the nursing home off as long as possible. That is our preparation.

Think about anything that you prepare for. There is a process involved. Sometimes it is a pretty extensive process and other times it is very minimal. The amount of work you put into that process depends on many things. It can be very complex and requiring a large amount of prep time. It could be something small. Or it could even be that you care very little or a lot about something. So it doesn’t just become the complexity of what you are preparing for that causes you to work hard, but is is also how much that end result means to you. As I observe my own life and those around me I see that that there are many things we prepare for, but none of that seems to be preparation for disease or old age. I think this is because it is hard for us to wrap our heads around disease and old age. If we think too much about it we can easily become depressed. Now, many of us prepare for things like retirement where we will save our money. The government  somewhat helps us out with this, but how many of us prepare our minds and bodies for old age? We get so caught up in our daily lives, of the things we think are important, that we never stop to think about our lives 20, 30, 40 years from now.

I have unknowingly been preparing for a battle with disease for the last 17 years. I started my fitness journey in 2005 after realizing I wouldn’t live long if I didn’t start making changes. I worked very hard, every day to change my life around. I don’t think anyone in my family truly understood how afraid I was of disease and how motivated I was to avoid it. It became an obsession. That is why in 2020 when I found out I had stage 4 Cancer I was so devastated. I was at a loss for words. I couldn’t understand what had happened because I had worked so hard. I was angry, sad, and depressed. Mostly because I felt like I failed. Yes, I was scared for my future and leaving my family behind, but I also felt like a failure. I asked my wife how could this have happened. I did everything right, or at least I thought I did. That’s when everything changed! She said to me that while everything I did to prevent this didn’t work what it did do was prepare myself for this battle. I was shocked by what she said. It all became so clear. I am a man of faith and really did question God when this happened to me, but after what she said to me I realized I have been preparing for this moment that God laid upon me. We can’t see our future. We don’t know what will happen, but we can always plan for the worst.

My routine for years was to wake up at the same time every day, go to work, eat 4-5 meals a day focusing on high quality meals, very few snacks, drink less alcohol, cut out soda, no fast food, work out twice a day. Day in and day out I did this. At first it was tough, but after a while it became who I was. I thought this routine would prevent me from becoming ill for a very long time. It didn’t. But what it did do for me was show me the path to fighting a deadly disease. For the type of Cancer I have I am considered very young. I have youth on my side, but I also have a healthy body and an obsessive routine to staying fit. It took years to develop this.

I see people come and go from my gym all of the time. We discuss goals and I help them on their fitness journey. For some it sticks and they become as obsessed as I am, for others they have a hard time fitting CrossFit or even any type of fitness into their daily routine. Why is this? On the surface it is different for everyone, but I think it goes deeper than that. They just don’t make it a priority. Why? Because they are so focused on the NOW. They haven’t visualized a future of disease, medication, hospital visits, weak bones, sore muscles, the inability to get up and down, having someone take care of them and wipe their butts every day. That is a hard thing to visualize. I imagine it is just like a 20 year old seeing themselves at 40 and thinking it is so far away and I have plenty of time to fix that so let’s have fun now. Yes, for many of us old age is far away, but for all of us a crippling accident or some disease could be tomorrow. You just never know. We give ourselves the best chances against accidents or disease by being young and by being fit. We cannot change time but we can change our bodies.

You never know what will come in the future so you must make fitness a priority. No one wants to have someone take care of them. No one wants their children or family members to put them into a home. We can easily block out disease as something that won’t happen to us, but we know for a fact we will get old. In the last 120 years we have increased the average life span by 40 years. 120 years ago it was in the mid 30’s. You had to worry about death then, just as you do now, but you certainly didn’t have to worry about all of the ills that go along with old age. Now you do. I recently saw a 90 year old woman on Instagram do a somersault. If my disease goes away and I live a long life I also want to be able to do a somersault at 90. Imagine feeling 20 years younger at that age. It is possible.

As I continue to meet people that want to join my gym and discuss their fitness goals, I will talk to them about preparation. Don’t focus on the day to day routine with fitness. Don’t focus on the soreness you will feel. Focus on the amazing challenges that await, the new opportunities you will have, the energy you will feel, the better quality of life and most important of all the preparedness you will have to fight the inevitable. It is time to prepare ourselves for battle!