How to use Stoicism to Help with your Health and Fitness


Stoicism is an ancient philosophical framework for living well. Its principal focus is to live virtuously, maximise happiness and reduce negative emotions.

It teaches us how to deal with adversity, handle prosperity, and stay balanced through the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life.

Stoicism is about understanding control. About knowing what we can control and what we cannot. It is about accepting the things that happen to us, even the bad things, and not letting them deter us from our mission.

We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions to any event.

Practice mind over matter

Famed Roman emperor and stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius once said: “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this, and you will find strength.”

Too often, people allow external factors to govern their fitness decisions.

It’s rainy, I can’t run todayI can’t control the weather, but I can run on my treadmill or walk around the house to hit my daily steps
My co-worker brought doughnuts to the office today; I had to cheat on my dietI can’t control my co-worker bringing doughnuts, but I can control having only one that fits on my macros

You wield power over your emotions-no one else. No matter the circumstance. Adapting a stoic approach to fitness will reaffirm your control over the habit.

When you’re in control, you make the decisions, not the weather. Not the fact you did not get enough sleep last night. Not your workout partner not showing up.

Manage your emotions to stay consistent

“To be stoic is not to be emotionless, but to remain unaffected by your emotions”

-James Pierce, Stoic Expert

The key to becoming fit is consistency. And the key to consistency is managing your emotions. Stoics take comfort not in avoiding emotions but in not letting them get in the way of what needs to be done.

Stoics understand that emotions are powerful influencers but not the ultimate judge of our lives. We have control of how we feel. We hold power to rise above negative emotions to see the path ahead.

Consistency is an essential part of becoming as fit as you can be. We all know this to be true. You are not going to become stronger or faster or leaner training every so often. You have to show up, put in the work, and then show up again tomorrow.

So when you are tired, sluggish, or low on energy, realise the only barrier to your workout is you. When you are depressed, anxious, or dealing with hardship, realise the only barrier to your workout is you. Nothing and no one else can be blamed for your lack of action.

Setbacks are only setbacks if you view them that way

“To bear trials with a calm mind robs misfortune of its strength and burden” – Seneca

Everyone experiences setbacks along their journey. It could be an injury, loss of track in your macros, lapses in motivation, or simply the process of getting older of not being able to do the things you once could. Setbacks are inevitable.

What matters is how you respond to whatever is thrown your way. Sometimes setbacks are the universe putting you on the right path, even if it is not a path you would have chosen voluntarily.

The next time you experience a setback in your training, stop and think, why did this happen? What could I have done differently? How will this benefit me in the future? The answers may lead you down a path you didn’t expect but ultimately needed to find. Consider your failure as the stepping stone to success.

Daydream less, build more by being present in the moment

“The whole future lies in uncertainty. Live immediately.” – Seneca

The stoics firmly believe in existing in the here and now rather than worrying about the future. Right now is promised; tomorrow is not. Stoicism emphasises doing what we can in the given moment to move us along, which involves putting in the actual work.

Go for that run, Get that lift in, Schedule those yoga sessions, Plan right away for your foods to hit your macros. Just put in the work, Now. Dreaming of perfect fitness is way less important than putting imperfect fitness into practice.

One of the great stoic minds, Epictetus, says it best:

“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do, Now.”

Detach yourself and practice AMOR FATI

“My formula for greatness in a human being is Amor Fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it-all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary – but I love it.”– Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher

Amor Fati is not about trying to erase anything from the past. Rather, it is about accepting the past wholeheartedly-both the good and the bad, all the failures and successes.

Accept all the past mistakes you made when you start your fat loss journey because, without them, you won’t be there right now living healthy and having a good relationship with your food, exercise, current lifestyle etc.

Amor fati means doing the best we can, putting in our best efforts to make the world a better place without worrying about what results from our practices, and accepting the outcomes with gratitude and strength.

Amor Fati means loving your fate but without leaving your goals. It gently pushes us to accept we can only control the process, not the outcome. Also, practising Amor Fati does not mean we do nothing or believe nothing we do will turn out worthwhile.

Guard your time

“We’re tight-fisted with property and money, yet think too little of wasting time, the one thing about which we should all be the toughest misers.”– Seneca

The Stoics understood that time is our greatest asset. Unlike any of our material possessions, once lost, time can never be regained. We must therefore strive to waste as little of it as possible.

The habit of procrastination and putting things off will come back to haunt us. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. On the other hand, those who give away their time freely to others will also find that they are no better than those who waste it.

Most of us allow people and other obligations to impose on our time too easily. We make commitments without giving deep thought to what it entails. Calendars and schedules were meant to help us.

We should not become a slave to them. Everyone has 24 hours each day, give each time a meaningful purpose such as your exercise, tracking your food, etc.

Stay focused when confronted with distractions

“If a person doesn’t know to which port they sail, no wind is favourable.”– Seneca

Modern-day capitalism has given us an abundance of options. Whether it is food, travel, or entertainment. When presented with so many options, we become paralysed by indecision. This is known as the paradox of choice.

Our brains haven’t been able to keep up with modern-day advances and are overwhelmed when presented with so much information. Before you check all the recommended diets, best exercises, and suggested macros on different websites, you must first focus on its core principles.

It is one of the problems we face in our daily lives.

With so many options, we never really commit to a path. We either put off making a decision or pursue multiple activities all at once. The result is that we never really make headway into anything at all.

The stoic emphasised the need for purposeful action. We must take care not to be merely reacting to our circumstances but to live intentionally.


Stoicism + Fitness

  • Practice mind over matter
  • Manage your emotions to stay consistent
  • Setbacks are only setbacks if you view them that way
  • daydream less. Build more by being present in the moment
  • Detach yourself and practice Amor Fati (love of ones fate)
  • Guard your time
  • Stay focused when confronted with distractions

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