Monday, June 2, 2008

How I Motivate Myself To Exercise

First, the wrong way:

I imagine myself on the treadmill, then imagine my physique six or eight months later. Looking good! I’m sporting a new, hipper wardrobe to accentuate and celebrate the slim devil I have now become. For some reason, my hair is darker and fuller and I’ve also moved to Paris, apparently, because I’m surrounded by 17th century architecture as I stroll confidently down cobblestone streets, the other men jealous of the attention I’m receiving from their wives and girlfriends. Strange women stop to chat me up, and bat their eyes coquettishly just before I deliver the disappointing news that I am happily married, and not the type to stray. Bravely, they turn away, giving me one last lingering glance that says, “Someday, if I’m very lucky, I will find a man such as you.”

Reluctant to give up this beautiful daydream, I decide to catch a quick power nap in order to embellish the scenario a bit while resting up for my sure to be vigorous workout. Three hours later I snore myself awake, tossing the drool soaked throw pillow to the other end of the sofa on my way to the kitchen to grab a diet cola and a salty snack. Chips, maybe. I’ll workout tomorrow. One more day won’t make a difference.

A more effective way:

Our oldest daughter just graduated college and took a job teaching English in Vienna, Austria. She leaves in September and returns next June. We decided to join her over the Christmas holidays, with a side trip to Paris. Last week I started thinking with actual sincerity about getting on the treadmill, then started muttering about how boring it is to exercise. Then I imagined myself seven months from now while on our family trip to Europe. My wife and two daughters are out exploring the glorious city, having the time of their lives while I am holed up in the hotel room, face down on the bed, too tired to move after an hour of walking up and down cobble stoned streets. I fall asleep dreaming of skinny Frenchmen luring my wife and the girls with promises of private guided tours of the Paris few Americans ever get to see. Three hours later I snore myself awake in an otherwise empty hotel room while rooting through the mini-bar for something salty. I snapped myself out of this impending nightmare and got on the treadmill for half an hour, keeping cadence with the self-flagellating phrase, “Fat bastard, fat bastard.”

I have to say, I think I’ve found the proper motivation. It’s been a week now and I’ve only missed one day.

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