Wednesday night I went to my very first meeting for a triathlon group I just joined. It has taken me literally months to get the cajones to go join this club, I’ve been stalking their messageboard the entire summer. They’re real athletes with real purpose, it’s all very intimidating because here I am, the biggest faker in the world. Faker faker faker!
But whatever. I’ve done one now, so I can belong to a club that does them, right?
You don’t understand. Yes, I’ve done two triathlons this summer, but you have to know this, I must proclaim this to all the world: it is all a sham! I am not an athlete! I’ve never swam (swum?) in my life before this summer! I’ve never biked and certainly never with those bike shoe clippy things that fasten your feet ONTO the bike! So that you can literally fall over on your bike going ZERO miles an hour. (Which I have done. I’ll give you a moment to picture it. Me, on the bike, stopped, feet fastened to the pedals, and slowly falling over, unable to stop myself or put my feet on the ground to hold myself up. Just me, falling down onto my side, still attached to my bike. And then popping a tire. Go ahead, laugh.)
The only thing I’ve ever done is run and honestly, I don’t even do that very well! This whole ridiculous foray into this sport all started out because I wanted out of a size 16!
But I’ve decided that what I’ve had to do in order to complete any of my goals, from weight loss to fitness, was become a complete and total head case.
I trick myself.
I make pretend.
I am a big faker.
It’s the only way I get through things I want to do. I play the part, I play games in my head and somehow I end up on the flip side and really I have no idea how. I have to say, it works for me and I figured I’d share my favorite five ways to headcase yourself into or out of something.
MY TOP FIVE WAYS TO TRICK YOURSELF INTO WEIGHTLOSS AND/OR BEING A PRETEND ATHLETE:
1. Decades. I’ve always looked at weight in “decades” of numbers and have seen a few people here have too. When I looked at losing 50 pounds as 50 pounds, I spun my wheels. That number was so freakin’ daunting, I would work out, then get pissed that I lost nothing, then eat a pizza. One day, I had actually broken into a new decade and thought, hmmm. This is a neat new number. So I had a renewed motivation and worked my ass off just to get the that next decade and then felt a rush of adrenaline at seeing a whole new number. I only worked on my weight in 10 pound increments. I pretended I only had 10 pounds to lose. Until the next 10. Before I knew it, I was rewarding my efforts with new sizes and each new size would re-up my motivation.
2. Sign up for something aka the law of the “parallel goal”: We say it all the time on here, but seriously, when I have something to train for, I pretend all the working out and eating well is part of the training. The pretend part? Yes, I will actually call myself “in training.” But I only say that to myself (and now, to you.) I never say it out loud. Because my friends and family would think I was nuts if I said that out loud. I’m no Olympian, I ain’t “in training” to anyone but my own head. But see, I can’t think of it as losing weight! That’s too tall an order for myself!!! But if I pretend I’m Mary Lou Retton and I’m going to wear a leotard soon, then I’ll rethink the donut (maybe). Yes. I’m a headcase. I told you.
3. Find inspiration weekly, daily, or by the minute if you have to: I wear a necklace that says “discipline” on it. Depending on the day or what I need to do, I switch it out with “strength”. I write down inspiring quotes. I play out things that I hear people say in my head over and over and over again. In spin class a few weeks back, at the peak of our session when my legs were on fire and barely making a revolution, the instructor yelled, “This is EASY!” Um. I’m sorry? What did he just say?
So when I was climbing the hill on my bike last weekend and wanted to stop halfway up and hold onto the rail (so badly I wanted to do that, so badly!) I thought of what he said and repeated it to myself: “This is EASY!” which of course it wasn’t, because it was the fourth bridge on the route and I did want to cry, but the word “Easy” somehow faked my simple brain into thinking maybe it was possibly kind of easy somehow and it faked my way slowly to the top. I also play music that yells at me to be the best I can be (Eye of the Tiger) or inspires me (Eminem “Lose Yourself”) or makes me wanna take charge (No Doubt “It’s my life”) and makes me wanna get all Rocky Balboa on myself. I am obsessed with messages and finding reasons, really, for why I shouldn’t quit. Because darnit if I can find a million reasons why I should quit, but I’d rather find a million for why I shouldn’t.
4. When all else fails, bake banana bread: There are times in a workout where I can’t catch my breath. Where I know that if I just keep going, eventually I will be able to, but first I have to get past that initial feeling of extreme discomfort and breathlessness. For me, it’s usually the first half-mile of a run or the first couple laps of a swim or the first 15 minutes of spin class. Or, on the flip side, if I am just beginning a workout that I know is going to be really long and all I can see is how much LONGER I FREAKIN HAVE TO GO BEFORE IT’S DONE, in both of these instances, I bake banana bread. Not really. I really do hate bananas but my kids love them and when they get all mushy looking, the way they get when they’re perfect for banana bread, I mix them up and bake away. And the ingredients are all pretty simple, and during my workout I will actually picture myself going to the fridge and getting the cream cheese and milk and eggs, and going to the pantry to get my oil and flour and sugar and I picture cracking the eggs and measuring the milk and remembering that I don’t have enough cream cheese like I had thought. You get the point. I think about something entirely different from what I am doing, just to get through it. Each tedious step by step. Then all of a sudden instead, I’m thinking about blog posts and why did that customer service person talk to me that way and I’m fired up making up the rebuttal in my head of what I should have said and then either the workout’s done or I find myself actually enjoying it! Thank goodness for the ability to make crap up.
5. Dress the Part: Well I wouldn’t be no fake Olympian without a cool new bathing suit or Lance Armstrong-wannabe without a cool new bike jersey or Jackie Joyner Kersey without my favorite running tank top with my favorite inspirational messages on them (One More Mile and Will Run for Wine) and both in pink because I love pink or a cute pink backpack I found on sale during Back-to-School week at Target. I told you I’m a head case. But putting these things on make me feel like I am what I’m doing and that, for me, is the first step in actually getting out the door and doing it. That and lipgloss.
The mind really is a powerful tool in this game. I still struggle with it and I’m struggling with it in having to swim through that awful murky seawater again this Sunday if I can stop being a baby and get out of my own head (the thought makes my stomach churn even now). I’m going to have to get a little creative for this one because none of my tricks have worked so far.
So what are your secrets? Your favorite workout gear? What gets you out the door? What gets you through that feeling of wanting to quit? Because we’ve all been there so.many.times. and some of you may be in that place right now and seriously need a pick me up, so everyone, get out your favorite tips please and share all your secrets with the sisters so we can all make it into our new decades!