I first met Terry Lancaster when he suggested a different kind of podcast interview, one with a focus on self-improvement and positive change based on common sense, attainable and sustainable goals, plus plenty of old-fashioned, “I WILL do this!” commitment. That’s Terry, and that’s the focus of his best-selling book, BETTER! Self Help for the Rest of Us. An additional benefit to this sort of improvement and lasting change is the positive impact it can have on one’s marriage and entire family. In this article, “Getting in the Shape Your In … BETTER!” Terry discusses what “getting in shape” should really mean. Bottom line: As always, Terry makes a LOT of sense. –JDS
Marathoners and other endurance athletes talk about “hitting the wall,” that point when their body has done all it can do, has burned up all its energy and just gives up. For a finely-tuned athlete, that could happen 15-20 miles into a 26 mile race.
For most people I hang out with, “The Wall” happens somewhere between the couch and the table where we left the remote.
Getting started is the hardest part and I can’t tell you any way to make getting started any easier, but I can tell you one 100% guaranteed, sure-fire way to make it simpler, and I can tell you three reasons that keep most of us from doing just that.
Reason #1: Trying to Be What We’re Not
The odds are pretty good that none of the Olympic athletes this year are taking the time from their schedules to read my little blog post on personal performance and fitness. None of the players from the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals or any of the other top athletes ever called me asking for advice on how to drop a couple of pounds.
So I’m assuming you’re not a world class athlete trying to shave a hundredth of a second off your personal best time. Quit worrying about those folks, what they do and how they train. You’re not playing in the same league. You’re not even playing the same game.
And the same goes for your friends who are running marathons or working out 5 days a week alternating cardio days, leg day and upper body days. They have no useful wisdom to share for those of us just struggling to get off the couch.
I’m fat, out of shape and clinging to middle age by the thinnest of demographic margins. 15 months ago, I couldn’t run to the mailbox, much less a marathon.
Accept who you are and concentrate on being you better.
Reason #2: Trying to Do What We Can’t
I used to play hockey with a guy in Nashville who started playing at the age of 30 and decided he wanted to make it to the NHL. (Yeah, I know; most of us hockey players aren’t terribly bright). He booked an appointment with a professional coach and wanted to discuss a training/coaching regimen that would get him league ready in the quickest time.
The coach told him he should build a time machine and start playing hockey every day at the age of 3. “Play your way up through Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget and Juniors,” he said.
“And, oh yeah, try to be born in Canada.”
Now maybe with hard work, dedication, proper nutrition, professional training and a little good fortune, this guy was the one in a billion who actually could make it. It’s not likely, but maybe. I do know this, if he’d have just set out to play old fart hockey a couple of nights a week, hang out with his friends and be a better middle-aged beer leaguer he’d probably still be playing hockey and having a blast today.
I haven’t seen him around the rink in 10 years.
Maybe you can run a marathon if that’s what you really want to do. And maybe you can swim the English Channel and hike the Appalachian Trail. But if you’re hitting the wall somewhere between the couch and the remote, running a marathon isn’t what you need to be thinking about.
Reason #3: The “No Pain, No Gain” Nonsense
I started out walking a couple of years ago and eventually got to where I could run … first a mile, then 3 or 4. And then the thoughts started popping into my head that maybe I should train harder, really push myself to run a half, maybe even a full marathon. And maybe I should.
But I found out when I ran farther and faster, I often felt worse. I didn’t have the energy left to do things I really wanted to do. And I watched a lot of my friends push themselves harder than their eighth of a ton middle-aged bodies could handle; they ended up injuring themselves and going back to the couch where it always feels safe and warm.
Why I Run
Yesterday was a beautiful day in Nashville – 56 degrees and sunny after weeks and weeks of freezing, drizzling and cloudy weather. (It’s late winter as I write this article.) I went outside, ran 2 miles and it felt glorious. I felt good all day, I had more energy all day and I’m not sore today so I’m good to go play hockey with my buddies tonight.
I could run farther and faster. I could push myself harder. I could lose more weight. But that’s not why I run.
I run to feel better, and I’ve figured out that if I just concentrate on that, everything else will take care of itself.
GETTING IN THE SHAPE YOU’RE IN … BETTER
Quit trying to be something you’re not.
Quit trying to do something you can’t.
Quit trying to get into shape, or into better shape, or into some other shape. Instead, start today, today, being in the shape you’re in, better.
Starting is the hardest part.
The answer isn’t easy. But it is as simple as putting down the remote, getting off the couch and doing something, anything really … today.
Terry Lancaster helps people create BETTER! lives and build BETTER! businesses one step at a time starting right here, starting right now using the science behind habit formation, focus and flow. In addition to being a best-selling author, he is a contributing writer for Forbes, a TedX speaker and is involved in the GOOD MEN Project. Terry was one of the very first members of The Speakers Group of The Changing Behavior Network. Here’s his website [link].