This is a twist on something a friend told me years ago as my father was dwindling before our eyes as a result of dementia… Taking him out was starting to become troublesome.
Now, this was a person I met through our mutual blogging who cared enough about how I was getting along to give me her cell number in case I needed to talk with a person who could relate to exactly what I was going through. I used that number a couple of times (with my wife’s blessing). The best advice she gave me was to remember that my dad would never be as good as he is today. Meaning it was all downhill at that point, he would never get better.
That simple concept helped me to maintain a positive outlook when taking my dad out to lunch or dinner when things took a turn for the worse.
We’ve all run into someone who wants to lose weight or get fit but they’re either hauling a truckload of excuses behind them or they simply struggle with “want to”. Rather than get into a long discussion on “Just doing it”, excuses, or a lack of willpower (losing discussions, one and all), I choose to plant a seed in the person’s mind instead:
“Getting fit or losing weight will never be as easy as it will today“.
It’s simple and if it takes, it’s near impossible to shake, it’s always there when the excuses come out. There once was a time when I’d get drawn into losing discussions but I can only hear so many excuses before I lose patience and shut the conversation down with something blunt, true, and brutally honest. In that case, we both lose. I become a jerk to that person, forever more. That person discredits or discards any good I was able to do during the conversation, and I go on wishing I’d have handled the conversation differently.
Helping someone get into fitness is done with attraction, not promotion. This phrase, changed to suit the situation, is common in recovery circles. I can tell someone they’re a drunken loser till I’m blue in the face and it won’t do any good. Hell, I was told I was going to die and I didn’t listen. On the other hand, if I present an attractive alternative to the misery that is alcoholism with those I meet, my example will always be at the back of that person’s mind every time things turn to crap. They’ll be thinking, “It doesn’t have to be like this. That guy I met at that stupid meeting was so happy… I could have that too”.
The path to fitness is no different. If I present those in need with an attractive alternative to the misery and can plant a positive seed in their mind, all I have to do is get out of the way and watch it grow.
Just a thought on this wonderful, snowy Monday.
Right on. I certainly struggled with “want to” for a long time but in one magic moment it all changed.
I rode for about a year and a half and got a bit faster, but basically wallowed in self-pity on hills, hills that seemed immense every time I climbed them. I lived for flats and downhills, and thought that hills were what you had to endure in order to get to the “good stuff.”
Then, one otherwise unremarkable day about a year and a half ago, I was climbing the first big hill on my standard short training ride. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, I told the truth about the hill: it really wasn’t that bad. And it was all just part of riding the bike. Whether it was a hill, flat or a descent didn’t really matter — what mattered was being out there and enjoying every minute of being on the bike. I got, as they say in the rooms, “an attitude of gratitude.” I can’t really take credit for making myself change my thinking — it just happened out of nowhere.
Instantly, I feel no more self-pity when I am grinding slowly up a hill and being passed by most of the people on the ride. Eventually, by the end of this year, I was actually passing people on hills for the first time in my life.
The other important change: I no longer ride to lose weight. I ride because I love riding. I lose weight as a side effect. That small change in the way I look at things is a powerful motivator — I ride more because I’m not punishing myself, in essence, for being overweight. I’m just doing something fun.
I’ve lost 15 pounds in the last 4 months without doing much to make it happen. And that, in turn, makes me a lot faster — my speed increases roughly in proportion to the weight I have lost.
Same for me, Brent. Gotta love it, brother. Thanks for commenting.
Gonna run this post by my sister when we go running today. She’s an absolute fitness Nazi who’s always hounding family members who need prodding. This approach seems WAY smarter.
It’s not always easy. Righteous indignation is always easier. It rarely works though.
I am sad to say that am I so far behind in reading my friend’s blogs that I just saw this today. Between conferences in October, playing catch up, and then surgery, I have been a miser with my attention.
This is a great connection between what my husband told me that fateful day many years ago–when I also changed my attitude and figured out how to readjust my interaction with dad and how to move forward with a positive attitude–to the thing I have struggled with my whole life (from bulemia and anorexia in HS in my first two years in college through a dysfunctional 17 year marriage).
I am going to have to bookmark this one and return to it often.
I am actually on the right road this time, even though it was temporarily derailed with bout of depression thanks to needing surgery. This is the first time in my life I can actually picture myself thinner.
Anyway. What goes around comes around. I am just glad that our paths crossed–and glad that the lessons that my husband learned while his dad progressed through Alzheimer’s continue to help others. In strange and beautiful ways.
Amen, Sandra. I wish you all the best there is, and thank you.