Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year to all,
I come bearing a simple gift to the fitness noobs about to embark on their New Year fitness resolution – it happens every year, right after the first. People hit their local sporting good stores, bike stores, gyms, pools and running stores vowing to get in shape once and for all, certain that this time it will be different. This time the weight is coming off, this time I’m sticking to it.
I made the promise myself more than once, not only for fitness but, more importantly, in terms of recovery from alcoholism (the latter being much more difficult than the former). That being said, the recovery community is quite large and we have a rather famous saying that will not apply to the first two months of your endeavor – but it will thereafter. To begin, if you do this right, you will become a bit obsessive about working out and how you eat. You’ll maintain regularity, whether it be running, going to the gym or pool, or riding your bike. If you’re obsessive enough, this phase could last for months or even years. At some point, your enthusiasm for your new lifestyle will falter. As far as I can tell, this happens to everyone. This is the most important time during your battle. This is when most allow their resolution to fade – you will do one of two things: Most will stop showing up – not all at once, it will be gradual. You’ll blame it on a distraction, an event or a change. You’ll still show up from time to time but the frequency will wane. This is the time to put your nose to the grindstone, before you lose that fleeting gift of obsession. If you can make it through this short period, your chances of attaining your goal will increase dramatically. From there the news gets infinitely better. If you can make it beyond this, you will come to a point where you rely on your daily exercise – and from there it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to victory.
And that brings us full circle to my gift to you. Once you pass through the obsession and push through the period in which your enthusiasm wanes, after you come to rely on your workouts, comes the goods: The famous saying that I live by, both in recovery and fitness, is this; Fitness is not meant to be worn as a straight jacket. It’s meant to be worn as a track suit. Loose and comfortable, not restrictive and binding. This is the phase in which we find true happiness. This is where lapses in judgment cease to be a problem – where your diet ceases to be a chore and your workout ceases to be work. With your diet, you’ll start to see food more as fuel than as comfort – you’ll get the comfort from your exercise. With your exercise, you’ll find that working out, the act of setting your endorphins free, is far more rewarding than anything you could possibly eat.
It will materialize if you work through those few tough phases of your development. There’s just one trick: You absolutely must show up.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and good luck.
It’s 4:41 in the morning. I’m on my second cup of coffee and I’m just about to break into a little bit of work (I’ve got a nice little job to get through) before my wife and kids eat some breakfast, wrap some presents and get ready to head down to my mother’s house for a Christmas party, then we’ll be heading up to take part in a meeting. Oh, and I’m going to get in a 45 minute – 1 hour spin in there somewhere too. In other words, it’s going to be a long, busy day and I’m getting myself geared up for it – for the last 40 minutes or so since I woke up. This is when I remembered to check my morning heart rate… 46.
I can remember wondering if I’d ever get down into the 60’s two years ago and I’d been running for years. It’s obviously quite fair to say that I’m simply going to stick with what’s working – I can’t even believe I’m down in the 40’s.
Here’s my trick, the one thing that helps me push through almost anything, the one thing that helps me to push harder, the one thing that helps me to love the notion that “if I can talk, I’m not riding/running fast enough… Come in close, I have to whisper…
When I want to quit, when I’m tired, when most everyone else would look outside and curl up into a ball and go back to sleep, I call myself a sissy (in much harsher language). Saturday, when it was cold outside and I really just wanted to stay home… I had to decide on whether or not I wanted to be a punk today or not. It may seem harsh, but it is what it is and for me, it works. Now, this obviously doesn’t have to be ridiculous – I know there are people out there a lot more hardcore than I am – who will ride in the snow (and I quit when it dips below freezing), so I don’t claim to be all that tough. On the other hand, if you haven’t been running and had your hair freeze or your eyes freeze shut for a split second, you haven’t lived (or you live south of Tennesse-ish). Running in the nasty weather will make you feel like a hundred dollars and tough as nails.
What gets you through the rough patches?