Set Yourself Up for Success Tip #6


SIX: Adjust Your Attitude

It is human nature to complain. I say this because it is behavior that I observe in the tiniest of people, like my baby nephews.  No one taught them to whine and complain when they don’t get their way, but it seems to be something that they mastered at an early age. We all do it—we complain when we are made to do something that we deem unappealing, or when we don’t get our way in a situation. We complain about things that range from the very important to those that would seem insignificant to others. If you are my three year old nephew, you complain if Auntie Tara gives you the red cup instead of the blue cup or orange juice instead of milk. We want what we want.

Most of us desire a beautiful, toned body, but we complain because we have to eat well and exercise to maintain it. We whine when we are served steamed veggies and fish while others at the table are enjoying chicken wings and Ranch dressing. We moan about having to work out because we believe that it shouldn’t require so much effort.

I used to complain about going to the gym. There always seemed to be a list of activities that I would rather be doing, or I was too busy, or too stressed, or the outfit I wanted to wear was dirty, or blah, blah, blah.

I saw an interview years ago on TV that really shifted my perspective.  A middle aged man who had lost a significant amount of weight (and maintained the weight loss) was asked how he stayed motivated to exercise consistently. His reply was simple yet profound. He said that rather than tell himself that he had to go to the gym, he told himself that he got to go to the gym.

This made me think: I belong to a cushy Upper West Side gym in an upscale Manhattan neighborhood. I have two working arms and two working legs, and I am blessed with good health and the ability to exercise. I can see, speak, move freely with no braces, casts or crutches, and have strength to lift weights because I have plenty of money to eat well and take the best supplements. When I put things in perspective, I realized that I was taking a wonderful situation and spinning it in my mind to be a form of punishment.

The point was further driven home when I later met a man named Steve, who became a dear friend. As a teenager, he was a water-skiing champion and was on track to dominate the sport for years to come. At the age of 19, he dove into a pool, broke his neck and lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. I sometimes worked with him to strengthen his neck, as this was the only part of his body over which he had any control. He never whined and he never complained, but he would often tell me how he wished that he could go to the gym to lift weights and run, like he once did. For him, going to the gym would be a treasured gift, not a burden or punishment. Since meeting him, I have never again complained about exercising.

The obvious moral of this story is that most of us sometimes need to adjust our attitude and re-frame the way we view the circumstances of our lives.  If you want to lose body fat and develop strong muscles, know that, if you have the use of your limbs (or some of them) and can leave the house without being connected to an oxygen tank, you are way ahead of the game.  As I sit writing this, there are people across town at Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital hooked up to chemo drips and dialysis machines. I’ll bet my eye teeth that they would not complain if they could leave the hospital to go to the gym.

Think about that, and then consider this: do you have to exercise or do you get to exercise? The way you think about your life is entirely up to you!

Stay tuned for Tip #7!

Shine on! ~Tara Marie