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Motivation and Reward – A Win Win Situation?

As many of you know, I have lived ‘TV Free’ for quite some time (4 years now?) This doesn’t mean that I am anti-TV. It also doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally watch TV. It does mean that I don’t own a TV, and thus only watch it when I’m visiting someone or feel inclined to watch a show via the internet. What this all comes down to is that I don’t watch much TV any more, and have grown to not miss it. Not missing it becomes easier and easier as you get further ‘out of the loop’ – watching Prison Break season one, and then going ‘TV free’ before the start of Season 2 was a bit of a jolt, for example. But now that I am missing Season 1 of everything, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. (Yes, in this case ignorance is bliss!)

There is an exception to all of this: The Simpsons. As my good friends all know, I love The Simpsons! I’ve seen many of the old episodes 10-15 times, and could still watch them over and over! However, as a result of my TV free life, I’ve missed many of the new seasons (I know, I know, I can hear a lot of you out there groaning and saying “Don’t bother…”)

Where is he going with all this you may ask?

In pondering the back pain issues that have been hampering my enjoyment of cyclocross for the past couple of years, I came to the realization that I absolutely must improve my core strength. Yes, the physiotherapist has told me this; so have several of my close friends. Now my personal trainer is telling me the same thing. However, I’ve never had the motivation to do it. I do just enough physio to make the pain go away, then give up on it in favour of more miles, or more sleep, or…more anything but core work. Basically, once the pain is gone, I have no motivation to do core work… until the pain returns.

I think I’ve now figured out the answer; The Simpsons will treat my back pain! No, I’m not on drugs, or hallucinating, and I don’t mean it literally (I’d hate to see Dr. Nick’s solution for lower back pain!) It’s quite simple really. I do a workout, I get a reward. That reward is to watch an episode (or two) of The Simpsons. So for the past month or so, I’ve been doing exactly that. And guess what? I’ve been much better at doing my core workout! I can do the entire stretching/workout routine in 44 minutes, which is conveniently the same time as it takes me to watch two commercial-free episodes of The Simpsons!

It’s simple really. Find what motivates you (apparently for me, the lazy, brainless act of watching a cartoon) and use it as a reward for doing what you know you should be doing. Conveniently I can do both at the same time, since my core work generally just involves me on the floor on my back! I’m seeing and feeling improvements, getting a good laugh, and looking forward to the workout! Motivation to work, and a reward. Win-Win!

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