If you can imagine it ……

That sounds like a life-coach named Marvin, but it is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself.

“To put it bluntly, if you have a strong mental visualization of a future you that is in shape, you will be less likely to eat a bag of donuts and smoke a pack of cigarettes today.”

I read that today in The Upworthiest. That is so abso-f******-lutely true of me. One of my favorite fantasies to put myself to sleep (am I showing my age?) is imagining me at a pool party and putting on my trunks without sucking my gut in or sitting down so my stomach pooches out.

I also fantasize going through my program. I worked out under a trainer for 9 years and early on, seeking to tweek him as I so often did because he was Mr. Super Macho, I asked him what he thought about fantasizing exercises. To my shock, he almost exploded with enthusiasm for it, citing studies, etc.

But maintaining that urgent desire to be fit, to feel good and to feel strong, is an essential component to reaching workout goals, IMHO.

Some people will poo-poo what you do, not necessarily dismissing exercise, but dismissing YOU doing exercise. Most of all, dismissing the idea of you being strong and fit. Various reasons arise for that: they may think of fit as Charles Atlas or Johnny Weissmuller (am I dating myself again? Well, it seems I am the only one who will – ba dum ching!); they may have an image of you that you will never overcome; they may be jealous; they may have had a bad experience with a dumb bell (as we all have – ba dum ching!).

Anyway, work on that imaging thing. It bears resemblance to the practice of serious foreign language learners imagining themselves in a situation where they use the language e.g. haven’t we met somewhere before? Shanghai, perhaps? (establishing cosmopolitan cred); let’s rumble, Baby (establishing street cred of 50 years ago); let’s have breakfast – shall I call you or nudge you? (establishing creep cred); and many more I am too embarrassed to repeat (or make up). I swear I read the call you or nudge you one in one of my weirder language books – Estonian For Lovers or some such.

Whatever your goal, imagine it. I do it for a number of things, not all of them lascivious.

I just finished my workout in the garage where it register 108 degrees. Drink water!

Further from the article: ”

Identity is crucial for driving present behavior,” Hardy wrote in Fast Company. “A core tenet in psychology is that the best way to predict a person’s future behavior is by looking at their past behavior. However, when you’ve clarified your future self, and are actively chasing it … then your future — not your past — can be what is predicting your behavior.” That is a way out of that trap I never thought of when I was doing psychotherapy in a mental health center. That rule was so useful in heading off trouble with patients (I called them my clients). But when I read this today, it made me think of how I recognized highly functioning people: it was just this focus on becoming. Add to that Buddhist teachings (the 8 fold path), Mindfulness (which I discovered when my wife got cancer and we had an excellent mindfulness coach – an absolute image of Marvin but really good), and good health.

I mention good health because I never discount the simple fact that I do not get sick, although I used to suffer terribly from allergies and enough asthma to keep me out of Viet Nam. Just a week ago, an HVAC guy was out and we got to talking and I mentioned giving blood in the same space as we were saying we don’t get sick. He said he is O- too, as is his father, and neither get sick. He read somewhere that O- blood type protects, perhaps heightening the immune system. My parents were pretty free of illness, too and my dad lived to 90 and my grandmother on my mom’s side to 92.

Nevertheless, I got up to 180 pounds at one point, many decades ago, despite a decent amount of exercise (I like to cook and eat) and at 5’7″ that’s not good. Now I’m a bit under 5’7″ and weigh under 160.

I think after I reach my weight-lifting goals, I’ll take up big wave surfing. I’ll be 79 at the end of next month and nothing is impossible until I am dust, as my grandson puts it so delicately.

 

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