Laying a Minefield of Metaphors

The July Project: Day 20

I received a note this morning from a Facebook friend who’s struggled as hard with weight loss for most of her adult life as I have. She asked, “Can you send me some of you exercise motivation magic? [I’ve] fallen off the wagon…. The battle never seems to end.”

I wrote back to say that I know the feeling very well, but that somehow it’s helped to stop thinking about fitness in those terms. I’ve tried to make exercise part of who I am—not a short-term project, and not a battle, either. Her words stayed with me all day: the battle never seems to end.

Last weekend I happened to catch an interview with Valerie Bertinelli on CBS News Sunday Morning in which the 49-year-old actress talked about losing 45 pounds, and about her efforts to come to terms with why she gained the weight in the first place. She mentioned plans to run a marathon, and the interviewer chose to sum up the story …[MORE]

Go Ahead, Play With Yourself

The July Project: Day 19

I’ve written elsewhere about my exercise rules and about the idea of making a game out of achieving goals.

Scoreboard

I play a lot of games in my exercise routine. I make up arbitrary rules and give myself extra points on an imaginary scoreboard for achievements above and beyond the normal daily routine. I’m not always sure whether these tricks help keep me motivated, or just give my idle mind something to do.

Here’s a rule I made up tonight:

  • Extra points are assessed for walking on a day so humid that you finish the outing dripping wet from head to toe …[MORE]

But Really…Every Day?

The July Project: Day 18

In 2008, I attended a lecture by Dr. Henry Lodge, one of the authors of Younger Next Year, a book that purports to offer ideas to help men fend off some of the physical symptoms of aging. The central theme of Dr. Lodge’s talk was a point that might seem counterintuitive: that we need more exercise as we get older, not less.

In the question-and-answer session that followed his presentation, someone asked Dr. Lodge, “So how much exercise is the right amount?” He replied that although no one has nailed down a precise, scientific answer to that question, a good rule of thumb might be four days a week in your 40s, five days a week in your 50s, and six days a week from your 60s on …[MORE]

The Practical Effects of “Everything Counts”

The July Project: Day 16

I’ve written a couple of times before about Rule #2: Everything Counts. Today will be one of those days when I invoke Rule #2. I put in a long work day, then packed my bags and took off for Galveston. I didn’t get here until after 10 p.m., ate a late dinner, and then settled in to write. As soon as I publish this post, I’ll go for a walk. It’ll be after midnight, so I only plan to walk the four blocks down to the Seawall, then maybe a few blocks along the beach and back. That’s okay, because in this game of getting some exercise every day, everything counts.

I don’t entirely grasp the psychological mechanisms at work in Rule #2, but I know that it works …[MORE]

Words Translate Will and Desire Into Action

The July Project: Day 14

It takes a thought to make a word
And it takes some words to make an action.

—Jason Mraz, “Life is Wonderful”

For two weeks, I’ve been kicking around a draft post about mantras. I approach the topic with trepidation, because I don’t ever want want to sound like I’m trying to spout “wisdom.” (Somebody please kick me in the head if I ever start believing I’m wise.) I have no wisdom except what I’ve borrowed from other sources, so I can only add my two cents—the results of experiments that I’ve carried out in the search …[MORE]

Catch My Breath

The July Project: Day 11

Once in a while you might have a day when nothing goes quite right,

and all your best-laid plans fall flat,

and you’re tired because you haven’t had enough sleep all week,

and you have a million things to do,
but everything takes longer than you thought it would,

and distractions keep cropping up,

and in your panic to get something accomplished, you relax the rules, you try to quiet the sense of panic by stuffing yourself full of snacks,

and you know you’re doing it,
but you’re in that bruised mood where you can’t be bothered to care,

and then you force yourself back to banging away on tasks that refuse to yield an inch of progress,

and finally,

finally,

finally it’s late enough in the afternoon to say, “Screw it, I’m going to the park, at least I’ll get some exercise,”

and you think to yourself for about the thousandth time:

If you can’t do everything, you can at least do something.

You Can Make Up Rules, Too

The July Project: Day 9

A few days ago, I mentioned the rules of the exercise game that I’ve been playing:

Rule #1: Do something every day.
Rule #2: Everything counts.

On Wednesday, someone who’s been reading this blog lately said to me, “I just can’t exercise every day.”

I replied, “I’m not saying that you should …[MORE]

Not Everyone Will Be Supportive, But That’s Not Your Problem

The July Project: Day 6

A couple of weeks ago, I was four miles into the daily routine when I had to stop to take a stone out of my shoe. I was at the park early because I had some evening plans. It was a blistering-hot afternoon, so when I finished tying my shoe, I sat on the shaded bench for a moment, mopping sweat.

Just then, an SUV drove by, and a teenage girl hanging out the passenger-side window yelled something in my direction. All I heard was, “…get off your ass….” Any other pearls of wisdom she wanted to offer were lost as the vehicle sped away down the park road. I said out loud, “Are you talkin’ to ME?” I looked around—no one else in sight at the hottest part of the afternoon. She must have been talking to me …[MORE]

Of Serendipity and Companions for the Journey

The July Project: Day 5

I wrote a draft blog post this morning about some social aspects of taking care of your health. I’m saving that one for another day, though, because I’d rather share the story of tonight’s trip to the park.


I was starting my walk at Memorial Park tonight when my iPod battery died. Rather than carry the useless thing for 6½ miles, I walked back to the car and threw it in the trunk. As I started again, I considered whether the dead battery might be a sufficient excuse for cutting tonight’s walk short. I rationalized the value of getting home an hour earlier, maybe getting some more work done before bedtime.

Memorial Park Houston

But when I’d walked about a mile, I ran into Gary, an old friend and a park fixture like myself. He was walking in the opposite direction, but when we met, he turned around and joined me. We walked together the rest of the way. I didn’t cut my walk short after all.

Three miles later, we got to talking about some of the other “frequent flyers.” We talked about the guy who …[MORE]

A Brief Meditation on the Need for Patience

The July Project: Day 4

Turtle

Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get fit overnight. You spent years getting out of shape, right? It might take a few years of good habits to reverse the damage. Be patient. You’ve got time.

When you feel impatient, say to yourself: “I’m healthier today than I was yesterday.” Repeat as needed for a sufficient number of years.