There is so much wrong with this picture on so many levels:
Seriously though....it's one of my favorite motivational pictures! It reminds me how easy it is to forget about my reasons for exercising.
What exactly are those reasons, you may so rightly ask? Well, thereby hangs a tale....
Over the last 10 years, I have evolved from a pack-a-day couch potato, lazing around wondering why I kept getting fatter and "unfitter", to becoming a non-smoking outdoor tomato. But my path to fitness enthusiast zigged and zagged through a whole slew of different emotions and motivations.
At first, I hated even the idea of exercising.....it was no fun. I was out of shape, I was ill equipped, my confidence was low.....and it always seemed to hurt while I was doing it!
But I am stubborn. I wanted to lose weight, I wanted to stop smoking, and I wanted to not feel like the best years of my life were behind me. So I started running....a quarter mile at a time....some days just a 100 yds at a time, sweating like a dog in the August heat and hating every minute of it.
So my first motivation was to simply lose weight
I ran 4-5 days a week and it took me till December to even get a glimmer of enjoyment during a run.
But it came....and sometime that December I set a goal of running a marathon within 6 months. Pretty freaking crazy, but it worked for me. To make sure I didn't back out, I plunked down the $100 entry fee and promptly told all my family and friends that I planned to run a marathon......at that point there was no backing down!
By then, my motivation had changed to racking up miles and minutes, following a program to conquer an objective that just a short while ago, I thought only applied to crazy, weird running people....and now I was becoming one of them!
One of my most vivid running memories is during a 6 mile run along Boston's Charles River. It was in the high 30s, lots of melting snow, clear blue sky with a bright winter sun melting the ice on the Charles ("Love that Dirty Water!")....and I was running.....elated and free.....an incredibly steady 10 min/mile clip, I finished the run in almost exactly one hour and I was joyously happy every second of those 60 minutes!
I was a runner!
I still ate like a madman though. Like the most fanatical religious converts, I thought my faith in running and exercise meant I could eat with abandon.....I'll just burn it off on my long run, right?!?!
Not so, fatso! I lost maybe 10 lbs my first year running. Granted, my body shape changed some as I added muscle for fat in some areas, but not a big loss by any means. And any time I took a lull in my running, I put on weight.
After an injury in 2010, I had surgery that put a stop to my running. As I sat around recovering, I knew that if I couldn't run, I would pork up fast, so I did a bunch of web searches and found Sparkpeople.
And here I learned that you can't work off a bad diet.....that weight loss is 80% about eating right and 20% about exercise.
Damn the luck!
So I started tracking my food and found other exercise outlets. I bought a bike and zoomed around the Florida Panhandle (we lived in Destin, FL at the time). I signed up with a trainer and learned to lift weights....real heavy weights.
But fitness still centered around logging minutes & miles or putting more weight on the bar....and it was almost always something I did outside my "normal life." As I slimmed up and toned up, I still looked for parking spaces close to store entrances. I took escalators at the mall and elevators at hotels....even if I stayed on the 2d floor!
When we moved to Virginia, my new job was on the 5th floor of our office building. I made a commitment to never use an elevator or an escalator (see my blog
Yesterday, on my way to the gym, I saw a guy with a gym bag waiting to take the elevator down 5 flights. I shook my head and said, "Dude, really? The elevator to the gym?" The absurdity of it hit me hard, "why do we exercise, but we don't use that new found strength for even these simple things?"
What's changed for me is that fitness is not just something I do for an hour or so to work up a sweat and say, "I'm done"....it's to be able to keep doing things that I see many of my peers stop doing; taking stairs, happily walking from a distant parking spot, running after my niece then throwing her 50 lb body in the air and catching her!
My motivation today is to enjoy the feeling of being fit and to put it to use whenever I can all day long, not just in those few minutes I'm "at the gym"
Yeah, I like irony in that picture of people taking the escalator to go workout!
What's your motivation to exercise? What keeps you going?
Have a great night Spark friends!