sweating as the basis of realizing all other ambitions


This really is how happy I feel after a workout.

I’m a gym rat, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

I do love exercising outside, and when I was working 9-5, I would throw my work clothes into my running pack, strap myself in and run 7 km to work. I love to ride my bike, hike, kayak, and all that outdoorsy jazz.

But during these rainy winter months, Sport City is my haunt. It’s not even the equipment that brings me to bike through the pelting winter rain to get there. I bring my own jump/skipping rope knowing I could just as easily do it in my back garden. I do like swinging through the circuit a few times, but I know I can go to the park and work the same muscles through manual exercises like the Dirty Ballerina, Cliff Hanger and Turd’s Nest (I decided not to do Tough Mudder since I don’t fancy deliberate electrocution, but the workout regimen is great).

I go to the gym because the joint is radiating with energy from people that feel good. They are silent and present. Nowhere have I witnessed such a powerful, collective feeling of personal satisfaction than through the simple act of getting the heart rate up. I myself feel awesome pumping iron to badly remixed Faithless, and I nod at other gym rats each day over our sweaty secret: going to the gym makes life more tolerable. Being fit just feels good.

Sport City has a comfy lounge area, and after I wrap up my own workout, I drink a coffee at the bar and mentally absorb endorphins from other gym-goers. The place is crawling with bouncing, happy trainers who can cheer me up on the worst of days.


As we sit in that time between Christmas and New Years, many of us are thinking about how 2014 is going to be different. We’re busy convincing ourselves that we will succeed where we failed last year; that this coming year is going to be the real game-changer. We’ve created our plan, spent hours perfecting it, and come January 1st, watch out world.

What I’m saying is, get yourself to a gym as the most basic of things. If not the gym, get your butt outside and do something to break a sweat. Try yoga, tai chi, kick boxing, rowing, dancing, walking, running, skipping, spinning, biking, canoeing, hiking, or whatever makes you feel good.


I listened to a webinar by life coach Michael Burnoff yesterday, and what he said struck me: most of us want to be more “disciplined”, and we think we need to punish ourselves by taking things away or stopping something. We tell ourselves to stop eating candy bars, stop smoking, or whatever. But they key, he insists, is to add something and do it regularly. He says to take action with something small, and just DO IT.

Drink a smoothie every evening, walk every morning, make one difficult sales call, smile at one girl…do one small thing every day that boosts your confidence and gives you a good feeling. Don’t focus so much on what you don’t need to do, but on that single action that will contribute toward building a skill you need in order to become the person who can achieve your ultimate goal. It’s about taking action, however clumsy and imperfect, to those build skills that must precede the goal itself. Plus, I think the happiness lies in those small, progressive actions anyway. They are about right now, and that’s all there ever is.

Side note: I took Burnoff’s 5-day Call-to-Action seminar last year, and I can recommend it. While he’s on the verge of being a total cock and demonstrated to fellow attendees how to “shock people into submission” by cutting me off mid-sentence as I rambled about my irresponsible financial habits, he was right. I had to put down the phone and cry a bit because I’m tender, but he did shock me into realizing how powerless I sounded as I talked about money.  


I can be insecure, I guess just like everyone who pushes an edge. Still, I know that getting myself to a gym or outside to exercise each day significantly improves my outlook on everything else. It’s not about having the perfect body. It’s about self-care, and to me, that is the single most important foundation of realizing any ambition.

Related posts:
Just dance
Get up, get up, get up, get up
Caring for the body


  1. I hope we do get a chance to meet if you do come to London. As I too like all that outdoorsy jazz. Especially so when I was travelling in South America. I’m trying to keep up with it here in London but the cold, miserable, London-ness of it all it slowly getting to me…

    • I also love South America, although I’ve only spent time in Peru (Costa Rica as well, which was great)…which country did you see? England can also be great too, though! I fell in love with Devon when I camped there last year for few weeks – lovely nature.

      • Aha. You see now I’m guilty of the whole being too lazy to explore what’s on my doorstep… And though I have been to Devon before, I’ve failed to take advantage of what it (and many other places in the UK) has (have) to offer.

        Once I go abroad however…

        I went to quite a few places in SA. Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina (we spent a decent amount of time in Patagonia) and finally Brazil.

        If my book miraculously sells enough copies to afford me a plane ticket back there, I will return in a heartbeat!

      • You should feel guilty…Scotland is beautiful too, btw. I would go back there in a heartbeat. Haha I also haven’t been to NY, something that always shocks Europeans, since it seems they all have! We tend to ignore the places we come from, I guess.

      • Indeed we do… Though yes, I’m surprised you haven’t been to New York! We went there for my 30th last year. Incredible city… I’d like to go back.

        Maybe we can go together after our trip to Devon haha

  2. I exhausted myself reading this. I would counsel that you just keep being a wonderful person. Everything after that is gravy.

    Tai chi is profound.

  3. Haha– I wish I shared your love for fitness! I barely scrape by with getting to the gym… I’ve had my gym rat phase but it’s fading into the distance… I’d like to reignite it though! I like what you said about ADDING to your life, not trying to cultivate discipline by removing things. Let me file that in my stubborn, brooding little brain…

    • No, don’t tell me it’s a phase!?! Hahaha…in the back of my mind, I think I wrote this to psyche myself into continuing this good trend in 2014, mainly to get my ass out of my house on a daily basis! I am also a marathon, chip-eating movie monster that camps on my couch for more hours than I’d like to admit lately. I’m all about personal dichotomy. I’m glad you like the tip I gave – and I wonder what would be your addition. 🙂

  4. Pingback: transition | evolution

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