Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Day One Hundred and Eighty-Three

Today may be the first day of the rest of your life, but it may also be day one hundred and eighty-three of your current workout regime. Getting up and sticking to it are are hard. In fact, the only thing harder might be starting at all.

How and why do we do it? ("It" being keep setting goals and training for them). Well, here's a few reasons from women:

"My morning workout is the hardest part of my day, whatever comes up next I can handle." Katrine

"When you land the axle, then you want to do the double axle. Challenge never stops. You keep trying for the next harder maneuver." Nora

"I am less likely to doubt myself. I am more likely to take on a leadership role. I feel sexier. I know my worth and I am less likely to settle for less than I deserve." Mary

"I have to feel fit to accomplish things in my life." Allison

Challenge. Accomplishment. Feeling sexy. Etc...

Makes me want to get up in the morning.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Have you impressed yourself lately? Been proud of an accomplishment?

No? Huh. Could it be that you just don't value what you do anymore?

According to many psychologists, if we are driven, ambitious people, we often lack the ability to appreciate and value our own successes. What a downer. The phenomenon, or maybe it's a syndrome, even has a name--idealization/devaluation. In other words, you idealize a certain measure of success when you see it in others, or when you are struggling to attain it, but once you reach it, well then, what's the big deal.

The first triathlon I ever did was in, I hesitate to say, 1993. Not that many women were doing them, and I didn't know anyone who could advise me on how to do the race. I was the rookiest kind of rookie you can be. My goggles got kicked off at the beginning of the swim. I had a full change of clothes for each sport (mind you this was a race that would take the winners less than hour, it was that short), and I wondered where I was supposed to do the changing. My mountain bike weighed 50 pounds. And I came in second to last. I felt like a rock star! Nowadays when I finish a triathlon, I pack my stuff up quickly in the organized way I've developed and wonder how I might have done better. I rarely take any time to relish the accomplishment. I hardly think of it as such.

I'll bet the same goes for lots of you in something--sports and other areas of your life.

Just because you can do something, does not mean it's easy. Every time we do something, it's good to remember the first time we did it. How did we feel? Like a rock star? Oh yeah--get that feeling back. You earn it, every time you do, whatever it is you do so well.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Happy "Now" or "After the Fact"

Reading a great new book by Lucy Danziger (the editor in chief of Self) and Catherine Birndorf (a psychiatrist), The Nine Rooms of Happiness (more on the book later), I came across an interesting observation about the difference between our experiences and our memories of experiences.

Scientists apparently often use what's known as the "Experience Sampling Method" to conduct studies; a process by which participants in a study record their experiences at random moments, in real time. Apparently most people have a high propensity to overrate the happiness they experienced doing a particular activity, when asked after the fact, whereas their actual experience in real time rated lower along the way. The example Lucy gives in the book is recalling downhill ski days fondly, when, in actuality, those same days are cold, wet and frustrating in the moment.

Some psychologists think that how we remember things is more important than our real time experience. Others think that what we actually experience is more important.

I tend to think we ought to be "in the moment", as they say--which implies enjoying said moment. And yet...

Say, for example, I'm out for a run. It's a windy, cold day. I'm running into the wind. I feel defeated, and I can't wait for the run to be over. If asked in the moment, I might say my run was no fun at all. However, once I'm home, and enjoying the sense of accomplishment, I look back on the run through rose coloured glasses. Which "interpretation" of my experience is right (because it's all interpretation, after all, filtered through the highly subjective environment of our mind)? Well, both. In fact, my sense of accomplishment may be all the higher, if I encountered challenging conditions.

Does it matter that I wasn't rapturous in the moments of the actual run? In fact, would the ex-post-facto enjoyment be less if the run itself was more enjoyable in real time?

Worth pondering.

Perhaps the answer is that we need to find the joy in the moments of the run itself, but the source of that real-time joy, in some cases, may be the knowledge that you will feel good afterward about the accomplishment.

The bottom line?--we do sports because they make us feel good, about ourselves, about life, and hopefully about the world.