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A new way to get in shape: Finding mentors and friends to 'play' with you

Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!) and "one of the best motivational speakers in the country," according to CNN's Larry King. A business owner for over 22 years, with over 8,000 people in his organization, Winn is the co-...

Friends who can make fitness fun

If you've driven down the street, turned on a TV set, or picked up a magazine recently, you've probably been bombarded with messages about how you should look in order to feel good about yourself. You might even be surrounded by people in your day-to-day life who eagerly line up in judgment and point the finger of disapproval at your body type.
Two woman in yoga pose.

You may have even gone home with the excited proclamation of, "I'm going to get into shape!" only to have someone at home reply, "Why bother? It's not going to work. Remember that diet you went on last year? You gained ten pounds!" And sadly, you may have caved in with a "You're right. What was I thinking?" response. If you're ready to take control of your body and your health, here's a new plan that's guaranteed to get you out of that rut.

I don't know about you, but if I'm not having fun with something, I'm the type of person who won't do it much longer. I'm not saying I won't do it for another year — if something isn't fun, I won't do it for another day.

So, how do you make it fun to get into shape and stay that way?

It's easy! Just follow these two steps:

1. Find mentors and gurus for the area you want to improve.
2. Find people who want to play with you.

None of us would be where we are today, in terms of our happiness or success, if it weren't for role models and examples who have guided us and shown us the way. We can't learn everything through firsthand experience; it takes too long, and the pain and sacrifice to learn every lesson would be too great. A wise person learns from other people's experiences. We call those people mentors.

For the most part, mentors are people who've achieved a bit of success in their own lives. They've usually had to overcome certain obstacles or hardships, and it's because of those hardships—and the fact that they overcame them—that they have something to share and that we want to listen.

My favorite mentor:

I've been inspired by many mentors throughout my life. Recently, my good friend Michael Galvin made the commitment to lose 50 pounds. He started exercising daily and following a healthy eating plan. Six months later, he had burnt over a million calories, lowered his high blood pressure, lost 42 pounds and reduced his body fat to 17 percent.

With a job that had her on the road three to four weeks a month, my friend Mary Burlingame noticed that her airplane seat and seatbelt were getting tighter all the time. She lost 129 pounds by making a few simple changes: she stopped eating after 7 PM, started drinking lots of water, and selected a "focus word" to live by. Her word was "discipline" and she posted it everywhere as a constant reminder to take full responsibility for her life and make better choices.

I'm inspired when I see mentors like Michael and Mary who've overcome hardships and achieved a goal. They give me hope and make me think, If they can do it, what's my excuse for not taking care of my health, exercising, or going to the gym?

Wanna play?

The second step in making things fun is to find people who want to "play" with you in the area in which you're trying to improve. Having partners and friends who want to improve themselves in the same area gives you hope, keeps you focused and motivated, and makes the process fun.Excercise Partner

For example, just because you may not enjoy going to the gym to exercise doesn't mean you have the option of not going, but you do have the option of making it fun. How? Well, you might try finding one or two people who want to go with you—the more the merrier—and turn gym time into social time as well. On those days when one of you is not motivated to go, the other person will drag you along.

I remember once after an exercise-recruiting session among my co-workers ("Wanna go? Wanna go?"), three of them said yes, so off we went. Three of us were off in a corner lifting weights, while our other companion, a 60-year-old woman who happened to have a new pink leotard, ran conspicuously around the gym, obviously trying to get a laugh out of us. She'd hang upside down, facing the wrong way on the machines, while the three of us laughed hysterically. We had a great workout, and it was fun.

Getting in shape can be easy if you practice those two simple rules: Find physical mentors to keep you on track, and find people who want to play together!

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