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The secret to health and fitness in three words

Published May 25. 2019 12:25AM

I like to joke that my while hyperactive mind often creates mental anguish, at least it keeps my memory strong. I like that when the other teachers can’t remember the name of the student from years ago who painted his fingernails black, had a pock mark on his face, and a sister at least two years older, I’m the one they seek out.

And more often than not — though it may not be immediate — I’ll remember.

That’s why I’m so downhearted right now. I can’t remember which coach yelled this out while we were doing wind sprints.

“You gotta wanna!” he’d bellow. “You gotta ... wanna!”

Like a bad song you can’t get out of your head, I kept hearing that coach as I reread the headlines of some articles that I felt could be used in this column. One, for example, was “What are the benefits of glutathione?”

What finally got the coach’s voice out of my head was yours commenting on that headline.

You said: “Who cares?”

I thanked you for the input — but not for the most apparent reason. I already know that most of you don’t want to read 800 words about an antioxidant your body naturally produces and can be enhanced through supplementation.

I like to think that I keep most columns practical, but your comment, reminded me that for you to read an article and then actually apply the information in it to your life requires the opposite of “who cares?”

It requires motivation. And what’s the secret to developing that? My coach knew.

You gotta wanna.

Granted, it’s not great grammar, but it really is the secret to enhancing your health and fitness. Yet in a way, it’s not.

I imagine that you knew well before you read this column that motivation is needed for just about anything positive in life to occur. And that motivation really isn’t that hard to find.

The real secret is finding a way to keep that initial inspiration, or — maybe more accurately — knowing how to regain it once it slips away.

Let me share what’s actually happening as I write this. You are guaranteed — absolutely guaranteed! — never to read these words in this column again.

I don’t feel like working out today.

Worse, it’s Sunday. A day when I have unlimited time to get out on the bike, push the pace, and thoroughly challenge and enjoy myself.

But there’s a 95-percent chance of rain for the first hour I plan to ride, a 75-chance for the second, and a 70-percent chance for the third. Now I can handle getting wet, but if I get thoroughly wet when the Real Feel is 42 degrees, the ride won’t be very productive or enjoyable.

That means I’ll ride inside on a wind trainer, something I don’t mind at all — in December, January, or February. But right now, the thought of riding indoors pulls out the plug at the bottom of my energy reservoir.

So a few moments ago, I stopped writing and called up my favorite You Tube video. It’s about the Texas Christian University baseball team, from 2012, and titled “The Grind.” (Check it out. It’s worth your time.)

I’ve seen this dozens of times, so I was surprised that seeing it again produced goose bumps and butterflies. I was totally immersed, watched it a second time, and only heard the rain pinging off the window after I hit pause.

Suddenly, the thought of riding inside and riding hard, on a day when I know many other serious cyclists will not ride at all because of the weather, appeals to me.

Then I went to the folder that holds the quotations I use when I teach class. I read and reread the one attributed to Brutus Hamilton.

“It is one of the strange ironies of this strange life that those who work the hardest, who subject themselves to the strictest discipline, who give up pleasurable things in order to achieve a goal, are the happiest men.”

Hamilton’s words created that internal itch in me that can only be scratched by a demanding workout.

In short, too often in life we become a slave to our thoughts. We all need to recognize this and foster thoughts that make us the master.

P.S.: When I rode indoors that day, I decided to go harder rather than longer, and the ride featured a 37-minute extended interval where my heart rate averaged 161 beats per minute. (According to a frequently used formula, my maximum heart rate is supposed to be only one beat higher.)

Even though the ride lasted 135 rather than 180 minutes, 79 of them were performed at a heart rate two and a half times higher than my resting heart rate, a number that’s typical if I do a spirited four-hour ride outside.

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