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My Secrets: How I’ve Maintained My Motivation for Fitness over the last 16-ish Years…

I feel a little chubby lately. My wife says I look great, but I don’t feel very svelte when I see a picture of me. Such is life.

Too many pulled pork sammiches, methinks…

That said, we have to keep things in context.  I’m only three pounds over my perfect weight of 175 pounds, so it’s not all doom and gloom, either.

…And that’s twenty pounds under my heaviest weight from 2001.

I ride a brilliant amount of miles in a week. I feel cheated when I have to take a day off for rain. I took one day off last month… and I haven’t had to bother with an injury day off in more than six years. I had a bad back but running and cycling fixed that. I used to have anger issues, but riding reminds me of how good I’ve got it and how wonderful life is.

Now, here comes the meat and potatoes…

Cycling is a lot like cheating for me, when it comes to motivation. To this day, I can’t wait to get home so I can don my Lycra and go for a ride. Cycling today, takes me back to my childhood when my bike equaled freedom.  So, for whatever it’s worth, when I throw my leg over a top tube, my worries fade to the background and life becomes just about getting down the road.  What’s odd is that I’ve been able to maintain something of a balance, where normally anything that makes me feel good I usually overdo to the point I have to quit it to live a normal life.  That hasn’t been the case with cycling.

The real test was the ten years prior to cycling when I was a runner.  I never loved running but the endorphin rush was nice.  I was injured a little more frequently, running, maybe once a year I’d have to nurse something back to health (usually my feet – plantar fasciitis), but I never missed a good opportunity to run – and I remained fairly thin through it all.

So here are my secrets to maintaining my healthy(ish) lifestyle over the years:

  1.  I wanted to run a whole lot more than I wanted to get fat.
  2. love good food, so it helps to have something to burn it off.
  3. Running was rarely, if ever, a solo event.  I had a group of running friends and we kept each other honest.  Cycling was a bit different at first.  I could ride alone and I was content.  Today, though, 80-90% of my time on a bike is spent riding with friends.
  4. To me, fat is ugly.  I don’t want to be ugly more than I want to sit on the couch (see also, 1).

Now, for my last, biggest secret…  This is the one that drives me to ride in the cold, to risk getting caught out in the rain, to push just a little harder than normal people:

I know, through actual, real experience (not some over-hyped, misquoted, poorly shaped study) that a sedentary life is vastly more painful than an active life.  It’s not even close, and I see it all around me every day.  Old, fat people hobbling down the sidewalk.  Young fat people parking in the handicapped parking spots at the grocery store, family members who keep cutting what should be benign, fun activities because they hurt too much…  They think they’re just too old to go bowling or swing a golf club.  It’s not age that keeps them down, it’s inactivity.  The more they give in, the more they give up…

My biggest secret to staying motivated is that won’t be me.  When I die, I’m going out tired.

 

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