Monday, July 26, 2010
SOWL Challenge—What motivates you?
Monday morning seems like a good time to answer last week's Summer of Weight Loss question: What motivates you? Here's the question in its entirety:
What are your motivators? What gets you out the door or to the gym? What makes you think twice about buying that suitcase full of Peanut M&Ms at Costco?
As Kerrie says, motivators are tricky. I know I should be motivated by my health and well-being. Right?
Not so much.
Oh, I know that maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active does make me more likely to avoid future conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, even cancer. But the thing is, even when I was heavy I was very healthy, so losing weight did not "cure" any particular condition I might have suffered from. And while I know a healthy lifestyle can help fend off cancer (probably), I also know that cancer can strike anyone, so I don't feel immune from the risk (though I don't dwell on it or anything).
You know what finally motivated me to lose weight six years ago? Pure practicality. I had a bunch of nice clothes (large-sized, but nice), and I had gained some weight so most of them were too small. I found myself thinking, "I need to go buy some new stuff until I lose weight and can get back into those clothes." Then I thought, this is just stupid. I can't just keep buying new clothes! And I can't just keep "waiting" to lose weight! Plus, I was 39 years old and I really wanted to get in shape by the time I was 40. So I just did it. It was like I had flipped a light switch.*
(FYI - of course it took more than a momentary decision to actually accomplish anything. It took about a year and a half to lose most of the weight.)
That's the big picture. But what keeps me going? And what keeps me running?
I have to say that the only thing that keeps me from eating all the m&m's and cake and cookies and ice cream that I would so dearly love is, in fact, fear of gaining weight. As far as other foods go, hamburgers and onion rings and pizza and potato chips, I really don't want that stuff and I truly prefer salmon and vegetables of all kinds and healthy food in general. Fortunately, I can eat as much spinach as my heart desires without too much fear of it going to my hips (or belly). But sweets take a little bit more disassociation.
As for running... I run because I love it. Usually. I love the way it makes me feel. (When I am done.) I won't lie, I also love the way it burns calories and lets me eat a little more than I would otherwise be able to.
So ultimately, my motivation for running is physical. But in the mornings when I am getting up at 6 a.m. to go run, I have to resort to mental motivation. I know it's good for me. I fear if I don't run when I intend to I may quit and never run again. I tell myself if I don't run today, I'll have to do it tomorrow, so why not just get out of bed and go? (And then I won't have to run tomorrow, usually, since I only run four days a week.) And 99% of the time, that's exactly what I do. (And because I do go 99% of the time, I am okay with the very rare occasion that I decide not to get up because I am too tired, or too achey, or the weather is too, too bad.)
This morning only took a little bit of self-persuasion to get up and go. Because I did a race (two!) on Saturday, I didn't run on Sunday so I felt pretty good, physically. My ankle and achilles tendon are feeling much better. I was a little tired (hence didn't get up until 6:00). But I knew it was a pleasant, sunny morning (upper 50's at 6 a.m.), so I threw on my shorts and a tank top and hit the road.
I was a little sluggish when I started but after the first couple miles I managed to pull myself under 10 minute pace (9:59 for mile 3!) and stay there. Because I was feeling pretty good, I decided to do a sort of fartlek style run, pushing the pace for a block or two or three, then jogging for a block. I followed this pattern for several miles, which gave me some decent splits with a "best pace" that was much faster.
Here are my splits, with (for kicks) my "best pace" per Garmin in parenthesis.
1 - 10:42 (9:15)
2 - 10:05 (8:37)
3 - 9:59 (8:13)
4 - 9:19 (7:59)
5 - 9:50 (6:16) (This is a weird one, there was no reason for my average pace to be that slow. Or really, my best pace to be that fast. Sometimes I think that my Garmin is on hallucinogenic drugs.)
6 - 9:18 (6:50)
7 - 9:18 (7:03)
8 - 9:12 (6:16)
Total distance 8.03 miles, average pace 9:43.
*Ironically, of course once I started losing weight I still had to buy new clothes. Lots of new clothes.