As I was heading up the escalator of the Time Warner Building, I looked up to witness a group of men and women heading down the escalator dressed in heavy sweats, gloves, warm caps and running shoes. “Training for a marathon,” I immediately thought. Based on the fatigued looks on their faces, I suspected the race must only be a few weeks away.
It is encouraging to me to see people making time to exercise, despite the cranky New York City weather and the often-grueling hours associated with corporate America. But despite all the good associated with running a marathon, I caution runners to keep an eye on the quality of their lives once they cross the finish line. I’ll explain to you what I mean.
My concern lies with runners who have not made exercise an important part of their life prior to the race. Once they cross the finish line, I’ve discovered some of these runners return to their previous lifestyle characterized by weight gain, poor diet and infrequent exercise. I call this the “Binge and Purge” of exercise. This is akin to fad diets consumed and adhered to, in the hopes that in several weeks, we can drop weight quickly, reach a dress size, look great for a vacation or a big party. Unfortunately, once we reach the short-term target goal, the “Binge and Purge” resurfaces: again we gain weight and again we lose weight as we turn our attention to the next short-term goal.
This happens because exercise has not become an integral part of our lives and we don’t make positive associations with exercise. As I often tell many of the NBA players I work with, “I shouldn’t have to convince to you to come to workouts today. If you love this game you will be here.”
If living a healthy life is important to you, then you will find time every day to do something. You don’t need a fancy gym membership, a workout partner, an iPod, expensive running shoes, “fly” work out gear, etc. All you need is “you” and the willingness to live healthy.
For this to happen, it also requires you to make a positive mental association with exercise. At the end of the day, it is perfectly ok with me if you cannot run 26.2 miles in one day. I would much rather you run one mile each day over the course of the next 26.2 years of your life.