Two Strategies I Use to Hack My Fitness


So little time, soooo many different diets, workout routines, gyms, social media influencers, pills, tools…

They’re out there in abundance, but I’m reminded of this great statement by Derek Sivers:

“If more information was the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

(Professional “stock image” model below… let’s be clear).

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to realize that navigating each day with respect to our individual wiring or programming can make ALL the difference.

Heather, my wife, has a level of discipline that has become so deeply channeled in her psyche that — I fully believe and attest to — no outside force could disrupt the maintenance of her physical fitness.

She is so inspiring!

But I am not wired like that.

My brain will default to “work” rather than “fitness” if I let it.

That, and I am horrible at moderation.

One bite of chocolate? Ha!

I’ll devour the whole cake, unless I abstain completely.

I’m binary that way.

If I am pursuing a goal, a project, a diet, a resolution, a habit, my programming is set for one, simple, two-letter command:


In accepting that, I have found I get very good results using two tactics related to my fitness.


The first is a repeating timer app on my phone.

I set it to run for 1 minute, and to repeat 30 to 40 times, depending on the workout I’m doing.

I place it where I can see it, and it does all the thinking for me as to when I start my next set, how many sets I do, and how much rest I get in between. (Rest = the remainder of any full minute after the effort is complete. No thinking required.)

Some workouts I use it for are:

  • 30 sets of 12 to 20 pushups.
  • 10/10/10 alternating sets of bench press, dumbbell curls, and lateral raises.
  • 10/10/10 sets of air squats, lunge walking, and alternating high-knees-walking while holding dumbbells.

Simply put, with it my stationary workouts feel highly effective, don’t take a ton of time, and since I do more work with less rest I tend not (be able) to overdo any one thing, so I’m not sore the next day.


For getting outside and moving this time of year, open water swimming is my activity of choice.

The approach that I have found works best with my wiring is to just go every single day.

This way, I don’t waste one second rationalizing about the weather, my energy level, my other obligations, the fact that my gear is still wet from the day before…

I just go. Non-negotiable.

I aim for a mile, some days are a little longer.

I don’t have any races or challenges on the calendar, per se.

As Heather is fond of saying when people ask her what she is training for, I am pretty much just:

“Training for life.”

*** HOT TIP ***

Just the other day, while doing a Swimrun lap, I passed an elderly man hiking up a hill behind Lake Padden.

He must have been in his 80’s, stooped over slightly and using hiking poles for extra stability.

“You’re an inspiration!” I told him, and I asked if he had any advice for someone who wants to be charging the trails well into their “more mature years.”

His advice put a huge smile on my face, and I will never forget it:

“Just don’t ever stop,” he said, “or you’re screwed.”