The health kick has stalled again but I think I’ve figured out why.
I need a goal. I need an achievement.
In the past I’ve managed to tackle a 10KM run, and a 47 mile cycle ride from Glasgow to Edinburgh and, more recently, I took part in a local 5KM event.
All of them gave me a target, a goal, a reason to do some training.
This is not news to me, I know I need a challenge to push me to exercise. After that I know that the healthier eating falls into place and after a couple of weeks I start to change my approach and attitude to being healthy, I’ll take more care of what I eat, I’ll push myself to do more exercise, I’ll even start to plan around going for a run, or to the gym, shuffling my social calendar where I can.
But whilst I know HOW to set myself goals, it seems that without some form of focus or event I can’t seem to stick to it.
Being healthy is not a specific enough goal. Lose 10kg is specific and measurable, but hasn’t been attainable despite the fact it is most definitely realistic and I can set myself a time limit to achieve. But there is no competition other than with myself.
Although I’m not sure “competition” is the right word.
There is definitely something I need to have in place that has my exercise being focused on an event, as opposed to a simple goal of losing weight.
So it’s time to come clean. My name is Gordon McLean and (I think) I’m a praise-addict.
I think I have to finally admit that it’s the achievement and praise that completing an event brings that triggers something in my head. Looking at how I interact with others when talking about exercise and health, it starts to make sense.
I’m aware of my weight and size, and whilst I’ve been heavier, it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t talk about my weight. I don’t drop it into conversation at work, for example, nor is it something that anyone asks me about (you tend to only comment when people have lost a very noticeable amount of weight and then only if you are reasonably sure that they have been trying to lose weight in the first place).
If I manage a short run, or I lose a little weight, I will mention those things in a self-deprecating way, but when I was taking part in Pedal for Scotland (the 47 mile cycle) or the recent 5KM run, everyone knew about it as I talked about my ‘training’ for it.
But, at work at least, we talk about what we did at the weekend. The achievements of our lives if you will, and I’m realising that the external validation (for want of a better word) is what drives me on. It’s also why I share weight and fitness ‘stats’ on a Twitter account, and why I write about it here now and then.
At this point I’m pausing to wonder if it’s praise for an achievement that I seek, or simply just having an achievement to boasting about.
None of this is new. I’ve floated similar thoughts on Twitter in the past and several very lovely people have offered me ‘competition’, be it comparing Fitbit stats, or mileage ran. At the time it was an intriguing thought as I was convinced it was purely my competitive nature that drove me but, as I’m starting to figure out, it’s not that at all.
Competition will always push me to push myself. I like to win. I like to help others win. Even going back to my time in the Boys Brigade, it was that same drive and determination to push myself further, and either help or drag others along with me if I had to, that made my squad win all the trophies going for the year I had them (I won both personal trophies that year too).
Ohh that’s a boast, isn’t it.
Regardless of whether it is praise or boast that motivates me, I know that I need to figure out how to ‘game’ my brain again. Sign up for another 5KM run perhaps? There is a local Parkrun* but, for no good reason they don’t seem count in my own internal (and admittedly quite weird) scale of ‘achievement’. Perhaps that’s all I need to change. To set myself a date driven ‘run 5KM at Parkrun by the end of October’, perhaps?
My general fitness isn’t actually too bad, I play basketball once a week and, injuries aside, have been managing to do at least one run or longer walk once a week as well, but it’s not enough and I know it.
The bottom line is that I need to lose weight for medical reasons.
My weight needs to go so my blood pressure lowers naturally so I can, in turn, lower the dosage of my high blood pressure medication before it starts messing with my liver. Beyond that I’d like to lose some weight to be more comfortable in my clothes and to change my own internal body image.
But, despite the seriousness of the issue, knowing that I have to lose weight, that I am compromising my health, still isn’t enough to motivate me to make the right kind of changes.
I guess that losing weight and eating healthily just doesn’t sound like much of an achievement to me.
* Parkrun – free, timed event that runs every week. Is it because it’s not a one-off event that I don’t seem to think it counts?