Ever shaken off your champagne hangover on January 1st motivated to Do It This Time™? You drag yourself to the gym and find it packed with other Resolutioners doing the exact same thing.
So, what does that exact same gym look like on February 19th?
1% Inspiration 99% Perspiration
Edison said it about genius, but the same is true of living a fit and healthy life.
Notice what’s not mentioned?
Motivation is easy to come by. You start a new healthy eating plan on Monday, going all in on kale and quinoa, only to be back to pizza and beer by Friday. Then, over the weekend you swear to start it all over again the next week. It’s the Sisyphus Eating Plan.
We all know the reasons we should maintain a healthy body composition and avoid a sedentary lifestyle, and every once in a while knowing that is enough to get your butt off the couch. But motivation is short-lived, and that’s when I point back to Edison’s quote.
Inspiration –the sudden urge or ability to do or feel something; the creation of a positive feeling; the act of drawing in a breath.
At some point, you might wonder if I’m arguing semantics but hang with me for a minute!
Motivation refers to an incentive – the desire for your clothes to fit better or to be able to play fetch with your dog for longer, you’re trying to lower your blood-sugar levels or you just want to have more energy. Motivation is the “what,” but inspiration is the “why.”
Inspiration is the vision of what your life is going to be like when you set up your goals and knock them down, one by one. It’s looking ahead and promising your future self that things are going to be better than they are now. It’s the people you can look to and go “yes – I want to do that, too.”
Even if those people are fictional.
“Have you seen Iron Fist?”
When my coworker popped her head into my cubicle, I had no idea where this conversation was going. Granted, I am the resident geek around the office. I figured she had clued into the Marvel Netflix saga and I was the best source for Comics 101.
Turns out, I was wrong in the best possible way.
A quiet glow of excitement took over her face as she started to rave about Colleen Wing. Not only did she loved the character, but she was looking up places to take kickboxing. She wanted to be a badass like her. Her glow was infectious. Immediately, I remembered exactly what that spark of inspiration felt like.
When Buffy the Vampire Slayer went off the air in 2003, it posed one very simple question: Are you ready to be strong?
Not then, I wasn’t. I was an awkward teenager who had way more in common with strangers online than with most people in my school. I took a dance class once a week and figured it was enough to offset the fact that I spent most of my time glued to the computer.
In fact, even once I got to college and gained a Freshman Fifty it still had not hit me. I didn’t dislike my body, but my parents often pestered me about my weight – which often made me want to change even less. In fact, it was 2008 before the spark hit.
It was sometime during my doomed love affair with Kara “Starbuck” Thrace when I felt it. Whether it was reading that Katee Sackhoff ran ten miles on Sunday, or watching her churn out decline pushups on screen, I can’t be certain.
But I knew it – she was my hero, and I wanted to be her. I downloaded some killer Battlestar Galactica fanmixes and started using the basic stationary strength machines at my college gym.
That was the first step on a wild journey I’ve been on ever since. I’m going to admit it – there are times where I have wildly careened off track. Because I had lost sight of-
—that other ninety-nine percent.
Even with motivation as your “what” and inspiration as your “why,” making changes to your life requires a “how.”
Humans are creatures of habit. Once we find a way of doing something we tend to keep doing it that way — even if it’s not the best, most convenient, or even the healthiest way. Change takes effort.
We think we can overhaul our lives in a whirlwind of determination, but changing everything all at once is a recipe for disaster. Bad habits are hard to break and good ones are hard to set, even when you’re months or years down the road.
I mean, I totally did not go down to the basement fridge and eat pecan pie with my fingers for two days after Thanksgiving for no reason other than it was there and tasty.
These are the kind of make or break moments that everyone will face. There was a time I would have wandered down a spiral staircase of hating myself for “blowing it.” I would become my own personal villain, tearing myself down… over pie? In retrospect, it’s easy to see that was kind of out of proportion.
Just like eating one kale salad on Monday doesn’t undo a weekend of take-out and alcohol, two days of pie thievery doesn’t undo all the other progress I made that month.
That’s the perspiration part of the process – the persistence. Know you will make mistakes and picking up and carrying right along down the road. Working towards a healthy body composition, building strength and endurance – these things take time. No matter what promises advertisers want to make, nothing will make you lose 30 lbs in 30 days.
You’re going to get frustrated, you’re going to have bad days, you’re going to make mistakes, you’re going to look at the calendar and go “why am I not there yet?”
That’s when you face down that inner supervillain of yours and go “Not today.”
So… what now?
If you’ve ever played a video game in your life, you know you don’t go charging into the Final Boss at level one. You start with building up experience points along the way. You can’t face down the Big Bad without a well-stocked inventory ready to take into battle.
You’re here. You’re thinking about what you need to do to make a change. I’m not going to wrap this up without doing something other than lecture at you about things you probably already know. So, I have a little homework assignment for you:
- Define your Inspiration – who or what brings that spark to life in you?
- Identify 3 of your biggest weaknesses and plan your strategy to overcome them.
- Set 3 SMART Goals for the next four weeks.
I’ve put together a printable that you can download here or you can choose your own journaling method.
This is the next twenty-eight days of the rest of your life. Make them awesome.
Ready to jump in deeper and start your Superhero Origin Story?