[Editor's Note: Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson is part of a rotating panel of Buccaneer experts who have been providing advice all season to those who have taken the UnitedHealthcare Get Fit! Pledge. On Sunday, Watson blocked a punt and disrupted a Matt Ryan pass that led to Mason Foster's interception in a 41-28 win over Atlanta. On Tuesday, Watson joined a group of Buccaneer players in a motivational visit to a Bay area school. Now, in the ninth of our weekly installments, Watson turns his motivational skills to Get Fit! participants looking for help in sticking with the fitness regimens they began two months ago.]
The last time I had a chance to offer some advice to all of you who have taken the Get Fit! pledge, we talked quite a bit about nutrition, which I believe is the most important part of a fitness plan. This time I want to talk about motivation, and I'm going to keep it short because I have a simple message and I really want you all to focus on it.
My advice to you is: Run your own race.
Yes, you want to be motivated to do as well as you can, and you shouldn't put limits on yourself. But don't fall into the trap of going to the gym and comparing yourself to everyone there. If you go into this trying to match what somebody else is doing, it can throw you off track. When I say, "Run your own race," I mean just worry about yourself and what you're trying to accomplish within yourself. Don't try to do something the same way another person is doing it and expect to get the exact same results. When it's all said and done, your body may not react in the same way that another person's body does to a certain exercise or diet or overall approach.
Whatever diet you have established – whether it's a strict diet or simply an emphasis on eating healthier foods – do what you have found works for you. If you're lifting or running, do what you are capable of doing, what you enjoy doing, and stick with it.
I can't say this strongly enough: Judging the success of your program based on what you see other people doing can really de-motivate you. You might see a person doing a certain workout, but you try it and find out it's difficult to match what they're doing, and that can throw your whole mental train off the tracks. Then you get discouraged and that can lead to you giving up. That's the last thing I want to see happen.
And really, if you've made it this far and you're still sticking with your fitness regimen, then you shouldn't feel discouraged at all. That alone should keep you motivated. You're doing it, and whether your results are coming quickly or slowly, you've made a positive change in your life. Really, the hardest part of any new diet or routine is the first week or two. That's when you're re-training your mind and your body, establishing a whole new mindset. The temptations are always going to be there, but it's in the first few weeks that it's hardest to resist them. As some of the other people in this series have told you, this isn't necessarily going to be easy. If it was, everybody would be in perfect shape. What motivates me is looking in the mirror after those first two weeks and seeing just the first signs of good results, any improvement at all. The beginning.
So enjoy that, build on that, and don't worry what the person next to you at the gym is doing.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson