After my post on the distinctive victory of Exercise over Type 2 Diabetes, I was a little disheartened after having to quote an article that stated most of the sufferers would not stick to an exercise and diet plan that would beat the disease into submission. That lack of whatever it is, is really heartbreaking to me because it’s so – unnecessary. I’ve run into posts before where overweight people worry about going to a gym to hit the treadmill, weights or the pool because they feel people look down on them. This line of thinking is almost entirely self-inflicted because the reality is, for the vast majority of us that already exercise regularly, exactly the opposite is true.
There is no doubt that there are some arrogant losers who scoff at people who are not physically perfect and who are out trying to get fit, but those people are few and far between. The important question is; who would live their life based on the opinions of a handful of jerks anyway? Unfortunately, it’s a lot. It is possible that the arrogant jerk excuse is simply that, an excuse, but I’m not buying that totally. I was extremely skinny through college (6′ and 130 lbs) and I always felt a little awkward when my buddy Scott and I went to the campus gym to work out. Scott was a built fella and he really took me under his wing to try to get me bulked up – I should have felt fine, if I just knew then what I know now, but I didn’t… And that’s the reason for this post.
Now, this is going to take a bit, so if your interest is piqued, grab a cup of coffee and read on...
Now I have an interesting perspective, having been all over the map – skinny, overweight and now thin to mostly awesome – so I look at weight in a different light. IMAO there is no excuse for being overweight. None. Weight is not rocket science even though it isn’t easy. I understand how tough it is to stay committed to a decent workout plan, but that’s not a decent excuse either. In the end, where I come down on this is that it’s good to see people out making themselves right, taking the bull by the horns and slapping the sh!t out of it. I can’t believe that I’m not the norm on this – judging by the way my friends talk, I am the vast majority. I love to see overweight people getting active. I’ve got a friend that had just made it down to a weight where he could finally jog, I almost got weepy when I passed him on a run for the first time last summer and he wasn’t walking (he was heading back, I was heading out). I’m reminded that food and lethargy are still kicking ass, but more importantly, that they can still be beaten. This doesn’t mean I don’t have my little quirks and qualms with other runners or running styles or clothing choices, but in the end what sense does it make to beat someone down who is trying to make a good change in their life? None.
While a nice sentiment, this is most decidedly not the point though. Let’s take this back to my college days where I was 14 pounds underweight for a cycling climber (to put that in proper perspective, I almost could have been the first ever 6′ tall jockey). I wrote earlier that people who feel misplaced in a gym because they happen to be heavy are committing self sabotage. That may be a little tough to read, but it is the God’s honest truth. First things first, we must place the blame where it belongs. There is a big difference “between I felt out-of-place” and “they made me feel out-of-place”. Allow me to explain; Nobody can make me “feel” anything. Or more to the point, nobody can make me feel anything I don’t already feel inside. In college, I used that to push harder. Unfortunately that feeling of inadequacy can be used to give up as well. Either way, it is a choice to do one or the other. The only way I know to beat this self-flagellation is to fix what’s ailing the melon. Those thoughts of inadequacy, while acceptable concerning fashion, have no business flailing about an untrained noodle – and seeing as most of us aren’t trained – those thoughts gotta go.
So, you ask, how do you change thoughts…or where do they go? I promise you, this isn’t rocket science. If your thoughts are anything like mine, they follow a pattern. Once you know the pattern, you can change it, mold it and make it do what you want. This takes practice and it is not easy but it is simple. When that self-defeating negative thinking starts there’s one of two ways you can roll with it. First you have to recognize that the process has begun. Once you recognize the pattern you simply change the tape playing between your ears. To illustrate, I have anger issues, and it just so happens that a couple of punk kids threw a 2 liter of Coke out the window of their car in my direction yesterday while I was riding down the road. So here’s how the thought process works (I’m going to write this like a conversation to keep it simple):
“Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot, is that…that’s a two liter just flew by my wheel”.
“What kind of sissy throws like that? Nice aim”.
“Oh hell, if that would have hit my spokes, I’d have been hit”!
“Those motherf@ckers”. [I start to sprint after them – it’s a 25 mph zone so unless he hits the gas hard, I can catch him at the light that just turned red]
“They could have f@cked you up, get ’em.”
“Almost on ’em.” [I finally catch up to myself right here]
“Hold on there sparky, let’s just take this down a notch, you don’t need to go to jail over a dumb punk, the girls are at home waiting for you, this is not the way we do son. Get the plate and call it good”.
Now, that first part is the old me. That last couple of sentences is where I changed the tape. I didn’t end up getting the plate, as soon as I was close enough he realized he was boxed and about to get the cops called on him so he gunned it into the left turn lane and darn near ran the red to make the turn (it changed just as he was getting through the intersection). We’re not done yet though, because normally I’d replay the event and the subsequent conversation in my head over and over again until that one little mishap consumed me. Now I’m still shakin’ mad while going through this. I already started to change the tape, so I’m continuing down that path.
“Son you just need to let this whole mess go. You’ve only gone 14 miles, you’ve got more than 20 to go, if you keep messing with this you’re going to waste playing hooky on a beautiful day, for what? Let it go.
“Let it go”.
“Let it go”
And that’s how it works. I can tell you, it took me more than a decade to perfect this process. When I said it takes practice, it takes some freaking practice. But it works. All one has to do is just use that simple process to beat what’s holding one back from the goal. The same works for other self-defeating thoughts. Let’s look at a hypothetical and overweight person running on a high school track.
[Huffing and puffing at a 5 mph pace] “What am I doing out here, look at all of these kids flying around the track… I don’t belong here”
[One lap later] “This running stuff sucks, my britches are riding, I’m sweating my butt off and not getting anywhere…I was just lapped, twice by the same kid. What am I doing out here”.
Change the tape: “I’m out here because I don’t want to be tired anymore. I don’t want to die early, I want to live, I want to be healthy… I can do this. I will do this.”
“But that kid just lapped you again”
“I’m getting stronger, my gut hates this sh!t. Let it go”.
“But you can’t, your tired already, let’s go eat”.
“I’m getting stronger, my gut hates this. Let it go”.
If all else fails:
More important than the gym though (because I still hate the gym), when I found myself overweight, I turned to running on the road. I didn’t love running but it served it’s purpose. I lost 24 pounds and got myself back to fair relatively quickly and stayed there for eight or nine years (with the exception of some hibernation winters where I’d have to get back to square and drop the winter ten. Since I’ve found cycling, however, things have changed considerably. I’ve found “my thing“, as I like to say. I run socially with several friends on Saturday, and I cycle for fun and to beat stress. When it’s just me and the road, I know for sure that my melon is the only thing out there that needs to be beat down. I wasn’t always awesome, it took a lot of work and the only way I could get that work done was to kick the snot out of that loser between my ears.
If you want motivation, change the tape – it’s in you.