We live in a world where perception is important, and we all want to be seen in a good light. We want to be perceived as successful, happy, healthy, and strong. What we see on social media portrays many people as gorgeous, flawless, happy, and living the life of their dreams. I believe what is far more important – in the pursuit of a meaningful life – than what others see and how we portray ourselves, is what we do in-between. It is truly what happens in-between that matters the most.

As a personal trainer, I would sometimes get questioned when a client didn’t get the results they wanted with their weight and/or measurements. How come I am not losing any weight? They would ask me in an accusing fashion. They would then go on to say, I always turn up to training with you on time and do what you tell me to do. Why isn’t it working? I would always answer the same way, that is a great question, why do you think that is? Often, they would come up with something that made me seem like the perpetrator. Then I would ask, do you know how many hours there are in a week? Together, we would come up with 168. I would then ask, how many of those 168 hours do you train with me? The answer was either one, two or three. I then asked, how many hours are there in-between those times you train with me, and who is in control of those hours? Interesting and almost every time, I never got asked that same question from the same person again. It was never about the times they trained with me; it was always about what they did in-between.

I am going to tell a story about an experience I had last week which may sound a little self-promoting, but I am just telling the story to make the point. So, my apologies if I am coming across as boasting. One morning last week I was training at my outdoor gym. It is a great outdoor area by the beach with chin-up bars, dip bars, and all sorts of great workout equipment. I was doing a strength workout and in-between every single set I would jog on the spot to increase my steps count. The reason I do this is because I can get so much more value from the ‘in-between’ by doing steps rather than just standing or sitting during the recovery time. In fact, I can get an extra 6000-8000 steps in a forty-five-minute workout by doing those few steps in-between sets. That is pretty powerful and is having an incredible impact on my wellbeing.

Well, as I was training between 6-7am that day a man came to the area for his workout. We said good morning to each other and got on with our own workouts. After about 15 minutes, as I was doing my jogging on the spot in-between my sets of push ups, I turned to see what he was doing in-between his sets. I looked, I turned away not really registering what I had just seen, and I turned back to look again. He was vaping. At 6:30am on a Wednesday morning during a workout, presumably to improve his wellbeing, in-between sets, this man was sucking toxic chemicals into his body.

Now, before you try to tell me that vaping is a healthy option, vapes can contain the same harmful chemicals found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer, and bug spray. So, please don’t go there. This is where I come across as a little high-and-mighty, sorry about that. Whose in-between activity is going to have the most dramatic long-term impact? Well, that depends on what dramatic long-term impact you are thinking about, healthy or unhealthy? For that man, he probably believed that the workout he was doing compensated for the dangerous ‘in-between’ action he was taking. In case you are unsure, it does not. It was his in-between choice that counted the most towards health, happiness, and longevity.

Enough talk about the flawless me (NOT!), and the vaping exerciser. Let’s talk about you for a moment. I want to ask you to start assessing your ‘in-between’ activities in different areas of your life. What do you do in-between workouts at the gym or with a trainer? What is your routine in-between your healthy meals? What do you say about people in-between talking with them? How are you spending your money in-between earning it? What do you do in-between talking with your mentor, coach, partner, or friend? What are the seemingly insignificant actions you take in-between reading your goals and telling yourself, or someone else, what you’re going to do? If it is true that what you do in-between counts the most, how would you predict certain areas of your life might turn out, based on your in-between behaviour in that area? It’s a tough but important question to ponder, and answer.

In my podcast this week with Eva Sifis, called Poised for potential, I speak with the queen of in-between. It is what she has done in-between the time since she was hit by a car in 1999, acquiring a significant brain injury, and now that has allowed her to have such a powerful and positive impact on the lives of many people. As you get on with your day and your life, just remember, what matters most is what you do in-between.