Back in 2013 (has it been that long?) I started a blog series called “The making of an action hero” in which I wrote about my fitness travails from the perspective of an out of shape action hero trying to get back in the game. I started out exercising at home, eating better, and going on Saturday walks with a friend. That worked until I ran out of easy time and ran into holiday dining issues. I replaced that with the fit bit which lasted into 2016. I added thrice weekly gym trips in 2014. Like most plans, they worked until my environment changed or I ran out of motivation.
My challenge is twofold. First, once a particular process stops providing a significant hurdle to be overcome, I lose interest. Last year I dropped more than 20 pounds in 3 months through a weight loss contest. A year later and I have gained most of that weight back. I have more muscle mass so it was not a total loss. The fact remains that I lost the momentum after the contest ended. I am still down 50 pounds from 2013 but without a major change I can see myself slowly falling back into bad habits.
Second, I work best when someone is there holding me accountable, kicking my ass, doing the drill sergeant routine. In 2015 that was a personal trainer. He moved, so I started working with someone else. That got too expensive so I tried working things out on my own.
I am in the upper percentile of my boxing class. I punch hard—really hard. I do all the pushups. I am one of the people the class measures itself against. Sure I’m over weight but hey I kick ass right? Nobody is sitting on top of me, checking my progress, measuring my stats, and shaming me into exceeding expectations. As long as I’m kicking ass at the gym what is left? And who am I competing against? I have had to pace myself a bit in the interest of not injuring myself—again. The upshot is that while I am eating better, exercising regularly, working on my health, and generally doing the right things, I stopped progressing seven months ago. I can excuse some of the holiday slump but the months between July and November were all on me. I do better when the odds are stacked against me, when the mountain towers over me, when the task seems insurmountable. So what’s my problem? I accomplished most of my goals. I wanted to lose enough weight that I could wear normal sized clothes—check. I wanted to build functional strength—check. I wanted to eat better—check. I wanted to start exercising regularly—check. Without something to strive against there is nothing pushing me to improve.
My answer came unexpectedly while I was reading “level up your life.” This book, much like super you, uses nerd culture references to teach people how to change their behavior and achieve their goals. The book covers a lot of things I have already been doing but it puts them in a context that is practical and actionable while maintaining a light hearted tone. It got me thinking. What would it take to really get me motivated? What would it take to get me pushing myself again? Right after I asked that question the book gave me an answer. The author gave his friend $100 to hold for him. If he does not hit his goals, the friend donates part of that money to a cause he really hates. That, that might actually work,. Do I really want to order Chinese tonight? Yes I…oh wait…if I do that then group x gets some of my cash. It is just enough of a consequence to give me pause.
So yesterday I paypaled Squish $100. He has strict instructions to donate $20 to a cause of his choosing that he knows I will hate should I fail to hit my goals—and since he is a dick, it’s going to be something I really hate I just know it. The plan is to get less than 200 pounds and stay there. My goals are as follows:
· March first, under 260 pounds
· April first, under 250 pounds
· May first, less than 240 pounds (about where I was the same time last year.)
· June First, under 230 pounds
· July first, under 220 pounds
· August first, under 210 pounds
· September first, under 200 pounds
This is doable. I just put in an order for a talking scale (the aria gave up the ghost a while ago which is another reason my numbers have been slipping.) The simple act of committing myself to this action has given me new energy. Now, to remake my image into something different.
Note: While I am probably not going to join nerd fitness, I am going to blog about the steps found in the book as a useful template for change. If you have suggestions or questions feel free to ask.