“How writing daily for years prepared me for working out and losing weight.”
I’ll tell you. But first, let me spend some time telling you about my weight loss journey.
Trust me, it’s relevant.
Facebook memories, the “on this day” feature on the FB mobile app, are reminding me that it was 2 years ago this month that I began my weight loss journey.
For those of you who don’t want to read a carefully crafted 2000 word article of what I’m about to share, check out this Facebook Live video I did yesterday covering the same material. You can put it on while you’re doing something else if you wish:
One Saturday afternoon two years ago in early July I wandered into a relatively empty gym most of Oikos was going to at the time to ask the guy behind the counter some questions.
After correctly assuming I wanted to lose weight, he explained to me their rates, the hours they’re open, deals they currently had going on and he told me I could come in for a free day on Monday if I wanted to try everything out.
I told him that’s what I would do.
And I meant it and believed it.
But I didn’t realize until I left that, no, I probably wouldn’t try them out, even if it’s for free.
I didn’t need a free trial. I just needed to DO it!
After leaving and walking a few blocks away to wander around with my sleeping two-year-old in her stroller, I called my wife but she didn’t answer her cell or the house phone. I was going to let her know about a two-for-one deal for 3 months they were doing, believing that she would answer the phone and tell me “heck yeah, go get your fat butt in there and sign us up!”
But she didn’t answer. Which was not entirely unexpected since the house we live in has incredibly poor cell coverage, so I knew there’s a likelihood she wouldn’t, but at least I could say I tried calling, right?
But at that moment I could have used the excuse that since I didn’t reach her, and since there wasn’t someone else outside of myself pushing me, I could back off. Make excuses. “Forget” to come back in on Monday.
But after a moment, I had a realization. One that would push me to turn around and go right back into that gym and pay for the next three months.
I did so, and opened my wallet and told the man that I didn’t need a free trial. I needed to just exercise and quit making excuses.
He was happy to oblige, took my money and provided me a receipt and a little flyer with the hours of all their aerobics classes, spinning classes and anything else where there’s a scheduled instructor for it.
“It’s going to cost you!”
That next Monday, while Jemina was at her early stimulation classes, Lili and I went to the gym together and began a workout program with a trainer on the second floor who weighed us both and immediately put us each on an elliptical on the first floor. He asked me, in Spanish of course, if I had ever worked out before and when that was. I told him it had been at least a decade to which he looked at me and said something loosely translated as “it’s going to cost you a lot, then!”
Well, I already knew that.
Those twenty minutes on the elliptical felt like hours. But eventually, I got used to spending 45-60 minutes a day at that gym, 6 days a week, doing a combination of cardio exercises. The first two weeks I lost about 10 lbs, and slowly kept losing more until I plateaued after 6 weeks. I was being accountable to a group of people on FB who were getting private updates almost daily, and I’d get a variety of opinions about what I should do. But the consensus was to do more than just cardio.
Lili got pregnant with Emily and a combination of things made it difficult for her to continue doing different classes she was taking there, so I started seeking out a partner to replace her on the membership plan. My friend Raul eventually started going with me in the evenings. It wasn’t until he started coming with me that I did any weight training on the second floor.
Sure, I could have ventured out and done weights at any moment and gotten the help of any of the trainers who worked there, but I justified it to myself by how busy the place was and that employees were all busy training other people already, and being the polite Canadian that I am, didn’t want to bother them for what I had paid for — access to their gym, including the trainers.
My New Normal and Worrying What People Thought
In reality, I had become comfortable with my new “normal” of doing only cardio exercise on the first floor. But in reality, I wasn’t stepping out of my comfort zone into new and unknown territory like I had 6 weeks earlier in the first place when I walked in and got a membership for the first time in many years.
After a few nights with Raul, I started making excuses again like “I can’t go unless I’ve got a partner” and I would only go on nights that were convenient for him. Which was balderdash. I have just locked into that comfort zone thing again.
At some point Raul was busy all the time — he got a new job that caused him to work evenings or something, I can’t remember. So I sucked it up and started going whenever I wanted, whether anybody was going to go with me or not.
I was even now going at hours I wanted. Well, hours I wanted until I decided to give spinning (cycling) classes a shot, and I loved it. So I started scheduling around being able to go when they were being offered in the evenings. I had done my research on how spinning was very effective in a variety of things for the human body, but even though I’m fluent in Spanish, I was worried I’d have a hard time understanding the instructor and feared looking like a fool in front of all other spinners.
Worried about what other people would think of me? Huh.
I LOVED this gym’s spinning classes because the room was designed like a nightclub — black walls with colored lights and even a disco ball, and the instructor would blare loud music with a beat. Having the music and him shouting instructions at us helped with the intensity of it, and spoiled me for different ways other instructors do their classes. I went so often that based on the night I could predict the playlist we’d follow on the stereo.
I kept this pattern up in my life, albeit only going 3 times per week instead of every day they were open for the next 15 months or so until I had a financial crisis come up that made me need to unprioritize a gym membership until further notice. But I will say, I may have only gained a few pounds back since I stopped but I’ve kept up other habits I learned in that season of my life, like watching what I eat and controlling my portions.
At my lowest, I got down close to 200 lbs/90.7 kg (my goal was to reach 185 lbs/84kg). Even though I didn’t crack 200, my weight hasn’t been this low since my early twenties, when I had “let myself go” in comparison to the lanky 20-year-old I used to be.
So, Steve, you took forever to get here, but how does going to the gym have anything to do with writing, exactly?
Easy. I wanted to tell you about how I’ve been coaching authors almost the same way.
You see, anybody can write a book thanks to the low barrier to entry self-publishing and Amazon has created. But many people have a book in them they’ll never write unless they have an outside source of accountability pushing them to meet their own goals.
I’ve lived in a few different apartments in the last 6 years in Los Cedros, and each have been walking distance from the beach. One of the advantages of that is I can go running every morning on the beach.
But I don’t.
The fact I COULD do something doesn’t mean I WILL do something.
I have an elliptical in my living room. But I don’t use it.
I have the tools necessary at my disposal to go exercising for free if I wanted to, but evidently, I don’t want to or else I would have already.
I’ve “intended” to change my diet and work out for years. But like I said earlier, I didn’t need a trial membership. I didn’t need to just live near a nice beach to run on. It wasn’t lack of any gym equipment or weights that was keeping me from doing it.
It was the mindset and motivation.
I’ve had access to things that would make exercising on my own easily if I would take the initiative to do it, but never availed myself of these things. It wasn’t until I put some skin in the game, by paying for a membership, that it became easy. That’s because I wanted to get my money’s worth. I had invested in my future body now, and it’s nobody’s fault but my own if I don’t do my part now and put my money where my mouth is.
I hear from people all the time that they don’t need to go to a gym or pay money to exercise, and that might be true for them. But I know a lot of people who need that kind of push and the built-in accountability that comes with paying for something like a membership.
I hear aspiring authors say similar things all the time — “self-publishing allows me to publish on my own without any gatekeepers (aka publishers) giving me permission.” However, that doesn’t mean they’re going to take the time and be self-disciplined to do so.
I’ve heard from people who’ve had books on their hearts for years and have never taken the initiative because they need someone else to be on them. They need deadlines or for someone else to help them work backward from their own end goal.
This is what I do as a writing coach. When you spend money to pay someone else to keep you accountable to your goals, there’s something powerful just in that action that helps light a fire in you that you would never have on your own or else you would have written that book already.
I help make it not only easier, but if you do what I say and do your part, we can easily complete in 10-12 weeks.
If you want to hop on a call with me and see if I’m the solution to helping you finally get your book written, then visit my booking calendar and let’s do this! But ONLY if you’re going to commit and do your part.