“Killing” time and “burning” calories

We all inherently understand that our time on this planet is more-or-less fixed. At the time of this writing I figure I’ll get about 150 good years. With the attention I put toward preserving my mind and body, and the next 50+ years of medical breakthroughs, I’m confident that I’ll get somewhere in that ballpark.

What I don’t understand, however, is the prevalence of two, in my eyes, parallel ideas: Killing time, and burning calories.

Why on earth would a person choose to mindlessly eliminate the one resource that is MOST important? Why do we even engage in this sort of activity. Do we not inherently understand the value of our time? I used to be guilty of this as much as anybody else, but for the life of me I still don’t know why. I think the assumption is that you are so looking forward to something “better,” in the near future. So you will accept any distraction to help you get there faster.

The fallacy in this thinking lies chiefly in the idea that something in the future is going to be “better” at all. We’ve all heard the stories and examples of how many people have learned that, “it’s about the journey, not the destination.” I have one of my own as well. Growing up beyond poor, all I wanted in the world was financial stability (enough money to not have to worry ever again) and three specific things—A house with a pool, a jacuzzi, and a refrigerator that dispensed ice and cold water. I saw these as the badge you get when you’ve “made it.”

I have these things now and I am extremely happy, but it is very clear to me that these “things” aren’t happiness. Everyone I know with any success can attest to this: if you’re not already happy in your apartment, you won’t be any happier in a mansion. Don’t miss out on the NOW for something “better” later on.

To that end, zero-sum games like “killing” time and “burning” calories should be avoided at all costs. Never kill your time. Spend it. Use it. Waste it (on your terms) doing something you love (which in my opinion is never a waste). Just never kill it.

Burning calories should be treated the same way. Yes, to a certain extent, the body is a scale, you put calories in, you use them on different things. The difference at the end of the day is partially responsible for being fat, or something else.

However, what you must understand is that you should never burn calories simply for the sake of burning them—this is definitely a zero sum game. This is the same as burning money instead of spending it. There is always going to be an energy expensive activity that you WANT TO DO. Going for a walk, playing tennis, surfing, swimming, boxing, training your body to become better than it was yesterday—these are all worthwhile pursuits. Find your worthwhile pursuit that just so happens to require you spend some calories in the doing. Never burn another calorie just to watch it burn—do something worthwhile that will make you better than you were before, and preferably something that you love.

Instead of burning calories, how about we just call it something “fun and sweaty.”

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7 thoughts on ““Killing” time and “burning” calories

  • Max Shank Post author

    Thank you very much for the kind message. Hope to meet you sometime in the future–could be time for another Canadian excursion!

  • Shawn Charlebois

    Every so often I come across someone in this industry who says exactly what I think.. it kinda freaks me out.. but at the same time I get a small validation of sorts being a gym owner and strength coach myself.

    Max you are definitely a professional to listen to. I believe you actually came to my gym when you were in Barrie at Thom Swales COM.. I run the Kettlebell Club up then road with another coach.

    I never met you but would love to. Keep doing what you do sir. Strength and Happiness to you


  • Monika

    Thanks, Max! I will give all that a try. :o) Well maybe not the leg curl, need a machine for that. I used to do them years ago, when I still went to a gym.

  • Max Shank

    Hi Monika, there are many ways to make modifications. For example, emphasizing hip hinging movements like deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, leg curls, and bridges, should be very knee friendly. You can still follow the same format to make the training as efficient and effective as possible.

  • Monika

    Thanks for all your articles. Your athleticism is amazing. But what would you do if you had bad knees? Many exercises would not be possible.