On Sunday, I ran for 15 minutes. The previous Sunday I was only able to run for 6 minutes. More than doubling the length of time I could run is a pretty big victory in my life right now. It wasn’t easy, and I’m not ashamed to say that after about ten minutes I wanted to stop. My brain was telling my body to stop and my body didn’t want to stop.
When I started, I knew that six minutes was the time to beat. It was early in the morning and I had Coast To Coast playing on the radio and some guy was telling the host how some other guy has invented a postage stamp sized battery that will power a cell phone for 20 years. Because we all keep our cell phones for 20 years, don’t we? I just had it on for a distraction. I needed something to occupy my mind while I was running because I do better if I’m not watching the time. When I glanced down at the clock I’d made it five minutes and felt pretty good.
I focused on my stride and my breathing and found a good rhythm. That got me to the ten minute mark. Then my mind started telling me things like, “you’ve surpassed your record from last week, you can stop now”. Fortunately for me, I caught those thoughts sneaking into my brain and turned the floodlight on them. Yeah, I’d passed my previous record, but I knew I could go longer.
Rather than have a logical argument with myself, I decided to chant. I’ve used this strategy before and it works. Think of it as a cross between a military cadence and a Buddhist chant. Not only does it help me fall into a steady rhythm, it causes my mind to focus on the repetition of a message rather than thoughts of stopping.
My first one is one was a rhythm to match my feet striking the treadmill: I’M – NOT – GONNA – BE – FAT – ANY – MORE. The other one I used was QUIT – TING – IS – FOR – LOSE – ERS, although I may have added one or two well place expletives to that one. It helped. I was able to go another five minutes without any real trouble.
I might have been able to go longer, but I started getting some pain in my abdomen from the bouncing motion of running. As my abdominal muscles get stronger I think that problem will lessen and eventually disappear. But stamina-wise I think I’m doing well.
Chanting a motivational slogan definitely helped.
The other things I do to stay motivated are weighing myself every morning and being excited when I either lose a pound or maintain my weight. I write the weight down on the calendar every day and spend some time looking at it when I make my daily entry. Progress is motivating!
Putting on my clothes is motivating because they’re starting to get pretty loose. I was at Kohl’s last weekend and thought about buying a new shirt, but told my wife I was going to wait another two months and then buy some new clothes in smaller sizes. Looking forward to that is motivational.
Writing down everything I eat is motivational. I look at my journal at the end of every day and congratulate myself for eating well, and reflect on the fact that I was not hungry during the day. Knowing I’ve done well is motivational.
I always say that comments are welcome, but in this case I’d really like to know what you do to motivate yourself. Please share your motivational techniques in the comments. Thanks!