- Good Bod: How To Get and Stay Motivated!"
At the Total Immersion swimming workshop in
Chicago last month, we received T-Shirts as a part of our “graduation.” The
shirts say, “No Brain… No Gain.” The coaching staff had been wearing the
shirts throughout the workshop. When I first saw them, I did a double take.
Isn’t it supposed to be, “No pain no gain?”
Actually, TI has it right. Terry Laughlin,
the founder of Total Immersion, has perfected a system whereby a set of
specific and easy set of skills leads step by step to dramatically improved
swimming. You master the skills through drills, thinking through the steps
carefully. Each set of drills has specific focus points that lead to
successful swimming. Good brain leads to good body in the water.
What Motivation is not:
Motivation is not emotion.
As I look back over three decades of pizza, suds, and a remote on my
favorite couch, I clearly recall having a motivation problem. I can’t begin
to count the times I would say to myself “I just can’t seem to get myself
going,”. The “hook” on my couch that had such a rigid hold of my derriere
was the sense that I needed to “feel” like getting active. It was as though
motivation had to come from emotion – and frankly, I didn’t have those super
good feelings I supposed would show up to get me motivated. Like I was
supposed to wake up one day with this, “Wow, what a feeling! All of a sudden
this morning, I just want to get out there and put in a hard workout!”
There’s the genesis of the “Bad Brain, Bad
Body,” syndrome. Richard Benyo in his book, “Running Past 50,” does a
masterful job of taking apart what he calls, “Bad Bod Syndrome and Bad Brain
Disease.” My brain had been sitting around waiting for emotion to come and
fuel my motivation and my body – well, it literally sat around waiting for
motivation. The motivation was a persistent no show.
Motivation is not
wishing and promising.
Most people in America have said something like, “I wish I was thinner,” or,
“I wish I was more athletic.” Promises frequently follow the wishing.
“Starting Monday, I am going to…” Promises that are rooted in wishing never
get off the ground. Have you noticed since the beginning of the year how
those ads for weight loss programs and exercise equipment have begun to slow
down. Right about New Year’s resolution time, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig
and exercise equipment manufacturers spent millions on advertising. The push
began to taper off in mid-February and will get back to normal by the end of
March. Millions are made on the wish dreams of those resolutions and great
deals are to be had for exercise equipment for those who patiently search
the classified ads from about July until December.
What Motivation is:
Motivation comes from
setting reasonable short and long term goals.
In the first days after my coronary scare, my short term goal was to be able
to walk two miles at a brisk pace. My long term goal was to develop the
ability to run a 10k race. I had about 50 pounds to lose. That was a killer
thought, so I decided on 10 five pound diets. Short term, five pounds, long
term ten of those which translated to 50 pounds. The real long term goal was
to be able to get myself to a place where the word “triathlon” and Malvey
used in the same sentence did not send my family into fits of uncontrollable
laughter. Goal setting and not emotion is the first building block of
getting and staying motivated.
Motivation comes from habit formation.
A friend of mine has done a good deal of research on habit formation. The
result? It takes six to eight weeks to imprint a new habit. Grab hold
of this next part. It is critical that you drag, scold, promise, or
do whatever it takes to get your body out of bed, or during lunch – whenever
– to some kind of physical activity. It is much more important to do this
every day for six to eight weeks regardless of how much your brain and body
might want to resist. Doing it is more important than how long you do it!
Still with me? If you get up fifteen minutes early five days out of the week
for six weeks and walk for ten minutes a day the first week than add just 60
seconds a day for the remaining five weeks, I promise you that your 35
minute daily walk will provide a motivational foundation that will translate
into a fitness lifestyle. You build from this point on and your short range
and long range goals kick in here to provide the content of your physical
activity. You will discover that instead of your body crying out for the
couch, it will fuss at you when a workout has to be missed. The bad brain
disease will absolutely turn around and instead of providing excuses to opt
out of the promises to change, your mind will be searching your schedule for
time to take care of your physical being.
Motivation comes from
Have you heard country artist Toby Keith’s, “how Do You Like Me Now?”
Admittedly, it is a kind of an “In your face,” song, but my own group has
quit laughing when I talk triathlon. Now it’s more, “Wow, never heard of
spending that much on a bike, and dang, just over $400 for a swim workshop?
Are you nuts?’ My favorite swim and tri coach says, “Tell them you ARE
crazy. What a wonderful crazy it is!”
So there you have it. The way to get and stay
motivated. Set goals. Form a new habit. Celebrate the results. Hey – let me
know how it goes. Write
firstname.lastname@example.org. And jump on the
BT forums with
your motivational journey.
I leave you with this quote from John Ruskin
that has become a profound truth for me:
highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it but what they
become by it.”