I have no doubt that there are people out there who are fully self-motivated and have the in-born engine to push themselves without external pressure. These people irritate me. Why? Because I'm frigging envious, that's why.
So on Sunday morning, I was able to fight against Daylight Savings Time and make my 8:30 spin class. I worked my tail off, and did everything I could to throw myself into cardiac arrest. So what was the difference? Throughout the class, I kept looking around to see who was working harder. Who was sweating more. Who seemed to be actually using their resistance knob on the bike and not faux turning. When my awesome neo-fascist spin teacher asked people to bump up their resistance, who was actually doing it. Who was better than me.
The great thing about a good spin class is that it has more than its fair share of obsessive exercise freaks, mutant cyborgs who seem to have no regard for their own pain and suffering. People who grimly plow through each hideous workout. Why is this a great thing? Because it gives me human benchmarks. When they push themselves, I push myself. When they have the resistance so high that they can barely turn their cranks, I try to go to the same place.
In another example, I was flying back from Chicago Friday night. I was upgraded to the front of the bus (there has to be some perk for travelling incessantly). The flight attendent started the beverage and meal service. I immediately found myself looking for the trim, hyper-disciplined looking serious lawyer types who would never deign to accept a glass of wine or a tray of junky airline food. When the flight attendent got to me, I proudly said "Diet Coke, nothing else thank you!" Well, I did eat the nuts she gave me (sadly without consideration for their unruly PointsPlus content), but I did say no to the calorie bomb meal service. Just like that, I was able to be one of those hyper-competitive puritan freaks. I felt good, responsible, and in control.
So here is the deal with me. I work at Weight Watchers, and I fully embrace the concept of group support. There is nothing I wouldn't do to help a fellow member in a meeting. However, if I'm just being honest, I need a little blood sport with my weight loss/maintenance. I need a little competition. I need to surround myself with people who seem to have their act together much more than myself. When I have it, I work harder, I push myself more, I stay engaged, and I stay focused.
|The critical darling of its time...|
I remember reading that Michael Jordan used to read the New York press before the Bulls played the Knicks so he could get irritated with the trash talking and then get fired up to play. I get this implicitly. I love competition. It gets my juices going. I love competition in just about everything I do (I can even beat you at being lazy -- don't test me!). I love it mostly because I like to be challenged. I need it to stay focused.
My love of competition does not mean I want to lose more weight than everyone else. It's just that I can't stand the idea of people being better at it than me. And believe me, lots of people are better at it, and their mere presence keeps me in the game.
Maintenance can seem like a long time. I need those stimuli to keep me interested and to keep me engaged. Sometimes it's the truly superficial (e.g., swim suit season is coming!), and sometimes it's for the right reasons -- I want to live a long time. Competition is just another little tool in my motivational arsenal that I find pretty consistently helpful. Applying it to my weight loss process seems a little weird, but it works for me. I guess it's my inner Ares.
I'm told that the use of competition in weight loss is particularly popular amongst the men folk. Our inner tribal warrior frequently gets the best of us, so the least we can do is to try to use our beastly tendencies for the good of our health. Beyond the women are from Venus and men are war mongering freaks stereotypes, I suspect that many of us use competition on some level to keep our motivation going.
As an interesting side point, I'm having a minor cat fight with @JackSht over college basketball while I write this blog. Duke just won. And Carolina just lost. This pleases me greatly. Now it's Final Four time. Competition is in the air like a fresh Spring breeze. Just in time for swimsuit season.