Trigger (heh) warning: This post will delve into honesty. Some people mistake reality and honesty with brutal honesty. I am going to try to stay away from the “brutal” part, but you should know, I don’t sugarcoat shit and try to sell it, either. You have been trigger (heh) warned.
I read a post the other morning and my jaw dropped, just a little bit. It was from a “This Girl Can” ad that shows a woman laying on the ground as if she were getting ready to do a full (guy’s) push-up… the caption says “One is more than none”.
Way to aim low. One is more than none? Just six months ago we had a local healthcare company put out a commercial that poked fun at the “one is better than none – now don’t you feel better” meme. It went, “Imagine that one was good enough”… a fella comes into a gym, does one push-up, and leaves. I chuckled, of course, because that’s the way things go in the whole “self-esteem” industry. We should all dumb everything down to the smallest possible amount of effort and celebrate that… Thus, one push-up is more than none. One marathon, well now you’re talking, but one push-up? One century ride (100k or 100 miles, it’s up to you)? Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.
I’ve got one important distinction to make. There’s a difference between aiming low and starting off. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to buy a bike and crank out 100 miles on their first ride. Expecting that out of someone would be stupid. On the other hand, I find celebrating “one being more than none” equally ridiculous. One doesn’t help.. Starting may, but the goal is more. The goal is bigger. The goal is better.
It’s not simply “do something”, ya know what I’m trying to say?
The core idea of starting a fitness program is to actually get fit. One won’t do it – and herein lies the rub: With the “self-esteem” movement, all too often reaching goals is rewarded and we don’t want anyone to feel left out so we dumb down the goals to such a ridiculously minute chunk, anyone can achieve it. One is more than none.
This is completely bass ackward.
We need to celebrate the process. The fact that I participate in three or four dozen 100k mile rides and a dozen 100 mile rides in a season is cool, but what I celebrate is the process of riding enough to be fit enough to do all of those rides. I don’t celebrate that I am fast on a bike, I celebrate the process of actually being fit enough to ride fast.
What matters is the process, not the pieces.
I like to imagine this in terms of recovery, and I actually used to think like this, so I know what I’m talking about, and I’m not pulling punches… Imagine we celebrate our first full 24 hours of sobriety. When you’re a drunk you celebrate everything with? Right, a drink, and with just 24 hours, you’re in no shape to fight back against that urge to celebrate with alcohol. While I may be happy about that first day, it’s nothing to celebrate. It’s only the start of the process of getting sober – I need to guard against spraining my shoulder trying to pat myself on the back for something so small, lest I end up hammered. After that first 24 hours, the work starts. After that first 24 hours I start working steps, making amends for being a loser, cleaning up the wreckage, and helping others to recover (preferably after I actually have something to offer). So how about the first year? Surely we can celebrate that, right? Well, yes we can but for about 24 hours because we like to tell the noobs, “this is where the real work starts, the first year is a gift”. This is the absolute truth too, the first year is spent just trying to stay sober. The next year is spent fixing who we are as a person. The second year is vastly more difficult.
I’ll be honest, the clouds break after five years but you’re not really basking in the sunshine till you hit ten – and by then you know darn good and well the work never stops. There is no end zone. There is no goal line.
Fitness follows the same principle. Don’t celebrate the minutiae, the tiny pieces. Celebrate the process. Just sayin’.