Got it? The journey begins in the brain. The brain, which energizes your attitude, is the most powerful factor in a lifestyle overhaul. Don’t think so? Try this: Close your eyes and imagine taking a fresh lemon. Feel the skin, the texture and then take a knife and cut the lemon in half. Now take a half of the lemon and hold it up to your nose. Get a good sense of the aroma. Now look at the lemon, notice the fresh, juicy pulp, then take a large bite of the lemon and chew it up.”
For most people, just the thought of taking a bite out of a lemon will set off a chemical reaction that fires up the salivary glands. These babies (12 major and tons of minor glands) dump a liter and a half of saliva into your mouth daily. What happens in your brain is powerful stuff in developing attitude power.
My personal journey, from the couch to competition, started when my cardiologist jump started my motivation by saying, “Your stress test was irregular.” I had been going around seriously short of breath, having mild chest pain, and telling myself that I would be lucky to still be on the planet in two or three years. That’s the brain fueling a killer attitude. Literally! I had it out with my brain, told it to get on the good side of what works, filled three garbage bags with junk food, bakery, and frozen goodies, and headed for the gym with a friend who is really fit.
I heard a story some time ago that has become a key of the main building blocks in what I call my “Extreme attitude Makeover.” The story goes this way: A Kansas farmer found a sick eagle chick in one of his fields. He took the baby eagle back to his home to nurse it back to health. In the beginning, the eagle did well and the farmer put it in with the young chicks in his chicken pen. Although the eagle did well during the first weeks, it began to grow listless and seemed to be losing its strength. The farmer feared the young eagle was going to die after all.
Then an inspiration hit. He packed the eagle in his pickup truck and headed west for the Colorado mountains. When he arrived at the eastern edge of the Rockies, the farmer took the young bird deep into the foothills. Then, he held the eagle in his arms and pointed its head to the mountain tops where the wind was blowing and an occasional eagle cried out as it traced the currents of the mountain winds. A strong shudder coursed through the eagle's body and it spread its wings as a new strength seemed to surge through the bird. It stood and leaped into the air, caught a strong breeze and soared into the sky. Misty eyed, the farmer watched as the majestic bird cried out what seemed to be a farewell.
This story is a parable of contemporary life. The truth is that all of us can be much more than we have imagined. The problem is that we buy into the thinking of the chicken coop and don’t even know about the mountain and the winds We wind up clucking our way through life instead of soaring. BUT - fitness doesn't come as an instant miracle cure. That's not an easy thing to hear in a culture where "fast" is "good." From the nine minute oil change to the "instant" lottery millionaire, we are bombarded with the idea that life can change for the good with a "quick fix". The problem with the quick fix is that when it breaks down, the "chicken coop" syndrome simply gains more strength. Some of my worst experiences over the past couple of decades have been those times when I knew I needed to lose weight and shape up. I would get a brief inspiration, stop eating, go out to run a couple of miles, throw up in the bushes on the way home, and go home for beer and pizza. My brain was saying, “Maybe later.”
My extreme attitude makeover provided the energy and motivation to begin a new lifestyle. I promise you, that this lifestyle is not about deprivation, it is about more. More energy, more productivity, more quality, and a heck of a lot more fun. Eating differently and working out have been powerful medicine over the past nine months. But there’s something even more powerful in setting some goals. I can remember seeing the occasional television show on triathlons. There was this one called the “Hawaii Triathlon.” “These people are from a whole other planet where insanity rules,” I thought as I sipped my brandy Alexander and took a bite out of my super-sized double Giantburger. Although I do not see myself completing this one any time soon – it is on my list of lifetime goals. Goals are the fuel of motivation and attitude.
For 2004 I want to finish my first sprint class triathlon, place for may age group (the old guys), and go for an Olympic class in the fall. But I have another goal that is very dear to my heart. I want to help motivate at least ten people, mid-life and seniors, to cash in their old “killer attitude” along with their couches and “tri” for a new and better way of living.
One more note. This web site is loaded with great inspiration. I love Michael Pate’s, “When Big Boys Tri.” Check us out next month for, “When Old Guys Tri.”
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