Life’s Too Short to Read Bad Books

Photo by: practicalowl

It took me a long time to learn this lesson. If I bought a book or picked one out from the library, I felt an obligation to read it, even if reading the book was not an enjoyable experience.  I had to train myself to believe that it was OK to put down a less than enjoyable book.

If within a few chapters the book hasn’t grabbed you, it’s not going to suddenly come alive in your hands. As long as I give the book a fair chance, then I have permission to put the book down and try another one. I don’t recall any Eureka moment, where I came to this conclusion. Rather, over time, I had to face up to the fact that Life is Too Short to Read Bad Books.

A bad workout plan or exercise regime should be treated the same way. Again, you have to give it a fair shot, like certain books some programs take a little commitment before they really get going. And, you have to pay attention and keep up with the plot. But, if you find that every time you’re going to the gym it’s a grind, it’s time to find another program. Seriously, like reading a good book before bed, going to the gym should be something that you look forward to. Life’s Too Short for Workouts to be Drudgery.

And, if you’re not mindful, drudgery can creep into the system. Here’s a personal example. Before I started reading and listening to conversations between people super serious about fitness and way smarter than me, I’d never heard of a back off week…lowering the training load for a block of time.

One such super smart person is Dan John. This fall I started experimenting with training inspired by Dan’s One Lift a Day program. Dan maps out a four week plan.  Each week the weights and reps change. What’s week four look like? Week Four: Off!

At first glance, week four was the weirdest thing about this program. I had never intentionally taken a week off. Once I decided to give the program a fair chance, a strange thing happened. Knowing that I was working toward week four, I worked harder during the other weeks.

To my surprise, during the first days of week four, resting felt natural. My mind and body welcomed the opportunity to forget about getting to the gym. Then, about five days into week four, I was really looking forward to cycling back into a new week one. So much so, that during ensuing turns through this cycle, I have had a couple of cheat days during week four, where I went to the gym to work on form or experiment with new exercises, nothing strenuous, just having fun in the gym.

Like a good book, this particular program has grabbed my attention and I am enjoying it to the fullest. Just as people have different tastes in books, they have different tastes in exercise and exercise programs. A backoff week may not be for you. Like my friend Nick Horton, you might be a Bulgarian at heart gradually pushing and adapting the body to new levels of stress every day…with No Days Off!

There is no accounting for taste, which is why I have adopted a general rule against giving books as gifts. I don’t want anyone feeling like they have an obligation to slog through a book that I thought they would love, but it turns out they hate. There is no excuse for not facing up to the reality that life is too short to waste your time on a joyless obligation to finish something that is meant to be enjoyable, but isn’t.

My advice, you can’t read them all, so don’t waste your time on books you don’t enjoy and given the wide variety of choices for exercise and strength training, don’t waste time on programs that don’t grab your interest or that have become drudgery.


13 responses to “Life’s Too Short to Read Bad Books

  1. hi! great post,so true..bad books waste time, I am quick to put it away, I wont read it, and I do spend alot of time in the library believe it or not..I found a way to enjoy books that was via audio books for books I liked because I know my weaknesses..which is also true for working out. I use to HATE WORKING out, hate it, I dred it, but I made myself go to the gym anyway as an obligation, all the while being resentful and I found myself getting angry every time I had to go work out. This was especially true in the military I really dreaded working out because I HAD TO..I really like to do things because I want to not because I have to..I tend to rebel when that happens..but I went any way..I realized that I had to find something that I really loved doing in a work out regimen in order for me to do it..I started experimenting with different excercise programs until I found one I liked..especially after realizing heart disease runs in my family and it came for me! Question for you, I just stumbled upon this program at I have not tried it yet, it looks interesting and I know someone that does it, he does alot of stand ins for Sylvester Stallone older man in TOP SHAPE, I skimmed the site but have not tried it..I am trying to find ways to keep active in my life besides power walking and jogging..

    • Kim:

      I’m finding out that lots of people don’t love the gym, which makes me sad. You know there are lots of ways to get and stay fit, so I’d start by thinking of activities that interest you. Don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild. I have two friends that study Oriental sword fighting…so, if you want to be a Samurai go for it. Also surround yourself with quality people that share your interest. No one reaches peak physical condition all alone.

      • soo true, thanks for the advice, I engage actually in Taekwondo as well, the warm up alone before we spar is amazing and a work out in its self..I always loved martial arts and I am also thinking of taking a kick boxing class, I have always been competitive and Loved all aspects of the martial arts, consistency is my thing tho, I get “suddenly” sleepy sometimes..(hahaha) but I keep going..staying in shape is important to me..I hit 40 last year so for me, I want to maintain my youthful’s important to me. Thanks! kudos to you for staying in shape..gonna try the pumpkin cookie recipe, I love pumpkin spice coffee too..good stuff on this site, It’s the perfect place to get skinny stay in shape and eat healthy for FREE imagine that..for a program like yours In LA runs thousands of dollars, I know this for a fact I have paid it! It was no where near all your experiments and eating and thought provoking perspectives on health, and working out and supplements this is a BOOK in the making! hint hint!!

      • Kim:

        Thanks for the vote of confidence. Keep up the good work – Especially with TKD!

  2. gracias! will do! 8) get that book going its not hard make an ebook put it on kindle for 9.97 it will sell! on Amazon..this is good stuff! recipes, videos, and you hit mindset positive thinking stuff to! this is internet marketing at its finest, your educating, engaging, informing, sharing your story and journey, all you gotta do now is make an OFFER! can’t wait for the next post teacher! 8)

  3. Adam, it’s great to hear (see, really) someone else saying this. It also took me a long time to learn that it’s OK to back off occasionally.

    On another topic, your comment ‘there are lots of ways to get and stay fit, so I’d start by thinking of activities that interest you’ would also be the basis of another interesting post. There are certainly a lot of people like that around here, who keep fit because they feel they should; rather than keeping fit because they enjoy what they’re doing.

    • Guess I better get back into soccer, kickball and softball all stuff I love, and this summer I am going to take surfing lessons so am excisted about that! thanks again, this is good stuff!

      • stoffainkorea

        Anytime – Just remember: Pics or it didn’t happen! I want to see you on a longboard at Malibu on a big day 😉

    • Scott:

      There is a lot of different views on backing off…but, after trying it, my take was: I should have started doing this a long time ago.

      Kira and I had a discussion on fb about people seeing exercise as an obligation and how often trainers resort to guilt as a motivating factor…the “No Excuses” language is not necessary, when people enjoy what they’re doing.

      • You will get photo’s for sure, I am ALWAYS in Malibu too, (eating or Zuma Beach or down by Santa Monica Pier Upstairs) I live in Redondo) I am a Malibu Junkie and I have my surfing teacher already, I picked him last summer on the beach we hit if off! he is in college in Washington State a native Californian that teaches surfing in the summer, we keep in touch, and I am buying my Long board soon, and I got my ski outfit and ski flippers, I am ready to Rock and Roll and I will do better than Pics I will also do video, yes I am a video junkie. I was sort of procrastinating on it, but after this post and you read my thoughts and feelings it motivated me to really go for it, cause its a FUN ACTIVITY that brings in Working out!! Thanks your a motivater!!

      • Lara comentou em 5 de abril de 2012 às 17:07. Linda naquiagem, adoro maquiagens fortes que nao tem neaisscreamente preto…O que eu queria saber é: quando usar o batom direto na boca e quando passar ele com pincel?

  4. @OnlyEric sent me this on twitter.

    Reader’s Bill of Rights

    1. The right to not read

    2. The right to skip pages

    3. The right to not finish

    4. The right to reread

    5. The right to read anything

    6. The right to escapism

    7. The right to read anywhere

    8. The right to browse

    9. The right to read out loud

    10. The right to not defend your tastes

    ― Daniel Pennac

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