Make Your Bed or End Up Dead

Are you really alive if you’re not free? Would you agree that at least part of you would be dead? If so, you must keep reading.

What does freedom mean to you? I think we can all agree that freedom encompasses our desire to live, think, and do as we please in our quest for happiness. It is a basic human need that encompasses, in some way, the upper portions of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. There is some element of freedom present in these categories, and fulfilling these needs helps to make us feel alive, satisfied, happy, and free.

Freedom is what we live for, and it can mean different things to different people. We all want the ability to live with purpose and to do as we please; but few of us understand that freedom is actually spawned from work, effort, and discipline. It doesn’t arise out of thin air, and it’s hard to see how something like that actually arises from qualities that seem counter to its own definition. Where is freedom in hard work and discipline? And what does making your bed have to do with anything?

When it comes to health & fitness, all of us feel dissatisfied in some way. Whether it’s a feeling of weakness, a lack of enjoyment in social settings, a lack of confidence, or dissatisfaction in the way we look, these are all things that embracing health & fitness can solve. Fitness is more than just numbers on the scale or weight on the bar; it’s about the way we live our lives and the good health we derive from it, particularly when it comes to physical activity and movement.

Without good health, we’ll feel less free and more dead. Putting a solid effort into improving our health & fitness enhances the ways that we can live our lives, with purpose and as we please. Fitness is freedom.

Getting strong might make it easier to keep up with your kids. Losing weight might improve your self-confidence and make social settings more comfortable. Eating well most of the time might allow you to enjoy a slice of cheesecake here and there with your friends, without thinking about how it negatively affects your calorie count or waistline. None of these outcomes are possible without prioritizing your health & fitness, and there has to be some measure of discipline in the present to achieve those outcomes in the future.

Fitness is simple. Eating well and working out regularly is about discipline. At its core, discipline is freedom. You have to put in the work in a structured and consistent manner to live freely and happily in all other aspects of life.

This is something that US Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink, explains best. You might have heard of him; he’s extremely accomplished, and he lends advice that everyone can take to heart.

The concept of discipline equaling freedom is hard to fathom. But the more I think about it, the more I see why it is actually true. Discipline is something that everyone struggles with, myself included. There are days when I feel as if I have so much to do, that I don’t end up doing anything. I have 15 things on my to-do list, and I end up doing 0.

It would be great to clear the list and complete 15 things. But in light of my failures,  even a list of 14 things after completing just 1 would be better, wouldn’t it?

Fitness is much the same way. It is never perfect and never an all-or-nothing affair. When you decide that you want to lose 20 pounds, it doesn’t just happen instantaneously; there are many steps on that journey, and you’ve barely reached step 1.

But rather than dwell on those steps and how hard they might be, just stop thinking about your tasks and the effort you put in as discipline. Just do it. Free your mind, by getting them off your mind. Otherwise you’ll be dwelling on those incomplete tasks all day. Where’s the freedom in that?

This is just a snapshot of my mindset when it comes to health & fitness, and it’s why even an overthinker like me makes his bed every morning, regardless of the circumstances.

At it’s core, fitness is a collection of small habits that produce a desired result in your life, whether that’s a better body or a 20-pound PR. Health is a combination of good food, good sleep, good workouts, and the ability to enjoy life to the fullest because of those good things.

All those small health habits–sleep 5 minutes earlier, work out one more day a week, eat one more serving of vegetables every day, etc–are good things that anyone should establish in their lives. However, you’re doomed to fail if you try to do all of it at once.

Healthy habits only stick if there is already a foundation in place built by previously established habits. One small habit leads to another, and another, and another. When you have your hands tied trying to do multiple things, you’re more likely to fail than if you could focus on just one thing at a time.

That’s why I make my bed every morning. The way I see it, it’s the one thing I must do to set me up for success. The rest of my day is built on top of this foundation, just like how small habits build on top of each other to produce a big result.

Adm. McRaven makes good points here that we should all take to heart. Making your bed every morning is about discipline. Discipline is about freedom, and freedom is about not ending up dead. When it comes to fitness, having the discipline to improve your health unlocks freedom elsewhere in your life. At the end of the day, no one cares actually about how much they lift or those bicep curls, but they do care about what it does for them outside of the gym and how it makes them feel.

That freedom and happiness comes from discipline in fitness, and it all starts with making our beds every morning.

by Jeremy Lau

Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach and Metabolic Lab Manager at Halevy Life.

Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.

As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.