Apr 052010

You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.

– Henry Ford

I will note with some wry bemusement that I had originally  started writing this before Mike put together his Good Cop/Bad Cop piece.  This is not going to be one of those sweetness and light, rah-rah-go-team columns. Instead, we are subjected to the unrelenting gaze of a boss fight that’s nothing more than a DPS check. There is no subtlety, it is merely Yoda giving you the hairy eyeball. We may not be Jedi Masters around here, but we’re also more than two feet tall, and don’t have Zombie Jim Henson’s hand up our butts.

In a nutshell, making excuses doesn’t burn any calories. Well, that’s not strictly true – it just doesn’t burn a heck of a lot more calories than you would just hanging around, not doing anything. For a 30 year old, 125 lb woman, standing around and talking burns approximately 45 calories per hour; a 35 year old, 200 pound guy would burn 66. If our imaginary friends were mopping instead of moping, she’d burn about 210 calories, and he would work off 350 during that same sixty minutes… and they’d have clean floors, too.

Getting in shape is hard work. There is no other way to say it. You have to put in the effort to get moving and eat right. You have to have the discipline and self-control to exercise when you don’t necessarily want to, and say no to that second slice of pie. There is exactly one person on this big rock who can make you do anything, and it ain’t Steve freaking Jobs; I don’t care how shiny that new iPad is.

If you don’t, no amount of cajoling, cheerleading, or snark is going to get you going. Lasting drive is all internal, even if there may be an external influence or two along the way. Guilt, vanity, anger, fear – they may or may not be the path to the Dark Side, or the Cliff’s Notes version of the seven deadly sins – but they’re the unpleasant things that sometimes motivate us. On the flip side are feelings like accomplishment, strength, competence, health, and enjoyment – all things which we can tap into on a day when we might otherwise feel like mailing it in.

I’m as guilty of this as anyone, truth be told. There are a lot of days when I’d rather crack open a beer and put my feet up and, even though I know it’s bad for me, watch five straight hours of Life or Mythbusters (or, more probably, goof around on Facebook and play Anarchy Online) than go for a run or lift weights. However, none of those things make me any happier with what I see in the mirror, or improve my 5k time, or get me closer to my strength goals. The folks who think I’m some kind of machine couldn’t be more wrong – I’m just stubborn, and don’t give myself an easy out when I feel like it.

A friend of ShrinkGeek sums up their approach thusly: “Do it anyway.” Whether it’s an unpleasant household chore or a tough workout, that gets them moving. Taking a few minutes to come up with your own personal motivational koan might be time well spent. Nobody else will be as invested in it as you are… but, then again, nobody else will get as much out of it as you will, either.

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