Regardless of the fact that Bill was making a literal reference to unpredictable outdoor elements inhibiting his runners’ desire to work out, there’s something more universal in his quotation than he may have intended. It doesn’t just have to be pouring rain or sweltering heat that keeps us from adhering to our predetermined workout regimen. And usually, it’s not. Instead it’s personal scrutiny, judgment, or acceptance—ultimately our overall self image—that determines whether or not we’re willing to hit the pavement on any given day. When we have a positive self image, we’re more motivated to do the work it takes to lose weight to get the hardened body we dream of. Conversely, a negative self image lends itself to keeping us soft.
Unfortunately, many of us struggle with our self image in one way or another, and it keeps us from believing that we are capable of reaching our fitness and weight loss goals. We degrade ourselves based on physical appearance as well as personal achievements, career status, talents and any other area we see as less than ideal. This negative thinking and self-deprecation creates a downward spiral that is entirely counter-intuitive to most of our goals, physical or otherwise. It establishes a barrier between what you believe you can do and what you actually can.
So, how do we fix it? How can we rise above our own “bad weather” and create a sanctuary from which to derive the motivation necessary to achieve such things as weight loss or exercise goals?
For starters, we have to start thinking more positively. We need to stop tearing ourselves down and nitpicking at every perceived imperfection. We should to talk to ourselves like we would our best friends—with kindness, encouragement and a continual benefit of the doubt. We need to look for and focus on the good in ourselves. We’ve got to visualize reaching our goals and be appreciative of the little successes along the way to the greater objective. We should stop passing judgment on ourselves for trying a new plan or supplement that works for us, individually. We need to remember that we are all unique in both our strengths and weaknesses—which means our goals may be achieved by following a different path than the one someone else may be following.
So often, when we’ve conquered the elements inside our minds and create a positive self image, our bodies react with a willingness and ability we didn’t know existed. It is usually not until after we have visualized ourselves crossing the finish line triumphantly that we actually do it. Belief and confidence that we can accomplish something have more power to motivate and, in fact, enable our bodies to follow suit than most any other extrinsic method.
Unlike the weather Mr. Bowerman was referring to, we have ultimate control over our own self image—for better or worse. It may not be easy, but we do have the capacity to shape it into a rock hard platform for success and achievement. And really, given the choice, I think we’d all take hard over soft any day.