Accomplishing any goal requires internal motivation and external motivation. My internal motivation to burn 60 pounds in 6 months nearly 10 years ago was my desperation to get out of terrible health. My external motivation was a convenient gym membership. Similar desperation rekindled that internal motivation last year. Unfortunately, internal motivation disappears without external motivation. That was initially just this weekly column, then daily social media accountability, now, a natural addition to my home gym. (…And eventual set?)
Compared to last year, a yard work activity took me half the time and drained my energy perhaps half as much, because I still did a 10-minute rowing set. I’m not as far along on my fitness journey as I would prefer, however, I’ve made significant progress toward getting there! Fast progress leads to failure. There’s no sustaining it. Long-term trends typically work because there’s less effort trying to maintain your status quo of success.
There’s a phrase circulating professional sites: “people don’t leave companies, they leave bosses.” Those bosses, and I’ve had two, were weak links in the corporate chain. Without proper inspection, they caused their whole department to fall into disrepair. With a little managerial lubrication, every employee works more efficiently. Similarly, if a rowing machine’s chain (if applicable) is under disrepair, your stats go down. If only bad managers could get a little maintenance like rowing machines.
Dental hygiene, like exercise, is a time-sink with seemingly invisible results. Both can be multitasked. Unfortunately, you have to dedicate your full attention to either task to get the most thorough results, otherwise, if your attention is diverged, you’ll most likely forget to floss your back row of teeth or just give mediocre effort to your set. Fortunately, the results for both speak for themselves: don’t do either one for a while, and you’ll notice!
I forget the last time I ate pizza. It’s not like a sobriety counter or anything, and I’ll probably have more. This slice was probably the greasy food court pizza necessitating dabbing off napkin-full after napkin-full of oily fats. I’ve since rejected a handful of thank-you slices of pizza. It’s never personal. It’s just irrational for me to eat food I don’t enjoy that I know will just needlessly distract from my long-term fitness goals.
It’s been close to a year now of weekly fitness updates, originally just purely essays and now featuring some technical or somewhat anecdotal fitness information, and I can now officially say that I’m regularly and comfortably tightening my belt loop one loop! I used the previous loop basically as long as I’ve has this belt, other than my 6 month, 60 pound weight loss period, along with its surrounding months, so it’s a huge achievement for me!
If “The Story” is my writing end goal, why distract myself with so much? The rowing makes sense because it’s good to be healthy. Why not compress it down? Spend that time studying fiction? Read the classics? Take classes, write drafts, send them out for criticism, revise, and learn the craft? Well, the thing about John (left) and Trishna (right) is that they’re two shades of our reality spectrum, and their story references it all.
How do we build positive routines? My method consists of two halves. First, I define then refine the routine to its most essential elements: if I want to row twice daily, then I try many different routes, learning what works, what doesn’t, in order to find my most efficient route. Second, I omit free will or opinionated subjectivity from the routine. I simply must row twice daily. Unless my health will suffer, then… row lightly?
“Maybe it is all the heavy metal inside of you that shows on the scale!” As much as I don’t want to be influenced by ephemeral external motivators, it’s still nice reading the occasional positive vibration. The number on the scale is just an external unit of measurement for my internal success: if I put on two pounds, but I feel as though I was more successful with my health, did I fail? Objectively? Subjectively?
Words mean nothing in fitness. Similarly to wanting to become a writer yet never practicing writing, you must put in the work not just for fitness but anything in life, in order to achieve the results you want. Fortunately, once you start putting in the work, it becomes easier and after a while, you can’t even imagine life without doing that work as often as you can. It’s a positive feedback loop with subtle results.