May 17th, 2012
09:12 AM ET
Editor's note: Jeff Dauler, a radio host from Atlanta, Georgia, is one of seven CNN viewers selected to be a part of the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge program. The "Lucky 7" is in Hawaii this week as part of their training for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon this September, alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
My CNN Fit Nation teammates added a fourth "sport" to our triathlon while discussing the impact our shared journey was having on the people around us.
Denise Castelli's father was starting to eat healthy and lose weight. Carlos Solis' students were participating in a 100-mile club at his school. Glenn Keller's hometown of Burleston, Texas, created an entire 5k in his honor, to encourage the whole community to get healthy.
Swim. Bike. Run. Inspire.
This adventure isn't our own, but is shared with people within our reach. We were all thinking pretty selfishly when we accepted Dr. Gupta's challenge, and we've all been surprised by that aspect of the program.
My reach is a bit larger than the others on the team. I happen to be a personality on a radio show that's currently heard in three cities, and (knock on wood) does pretty well. Dr. Gupta joined the show in the studio this past January to announce my participation in the challenge, and the listeners responded in a big way ... but not really as I expected.
From the moment my involvement was announced, people began saying I had inspired them to do better, be better, get better. "If Jeff can do it, so can I," was the common theme - and I hadn't even done anything yet!
They just liked that I was willing to admit that it was time for a healthier chapter of my life to begin, and even though I was scared to death, I was going to at least try.
"You have motivated me to get off my lazy butt and do something too," was the first comment received on my first triathlon-related Facebook post.
And those comments continued to pour in, via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, even snail mail.
"I have started the Couch to 5k program and I can't wait to run my first 5k!!! Thanks for being my inspiration," someone wrote to me after I ran my first 5k in March.
Speaking candidly, it's kinda strange. To be the person that others look to for inspiration, especially for health and fitness. I'm NOT inspirational and I'm NOT any sort of role model.
But I guess now I am. And I LIKE it. I want others to make the change if they're ready, and I want everyone to know they can get started NOW with no expense, significant time commitment, or special tools.
Here are my three super-inspirational get-started rules, in order of importance:
1. This very moment, start thinking small.
From this point on, begin making choices to improve your well-being, no matter how tiny. I started running in January by walking a couple of miles. During that walk I would run (OK, jog) two little 90-second jaunts. That's it. Three minutes.
I did that for a few walks. Then I upped it to three 90-second jaunts. Then four. Then I upped the time a bit to two minutes. I ran a 5k 10 weeks later, and now I run a 5k twice a week.
If you're hooked on fast food, switch to small fries and get a water instead of any kind of soda. If you're a smoker, smoke 15 cigarettes tomorrow instead of the 17 you normally have.
Slowly but surely adjust your life in a healthier direction.
2. Change the way you speak to yourself and others.
Stop saying "I'm trying to eat healthy," instead say "I'm eating healthy." Don't say "I'm going to start running," but simply "I'm a runner."
When you use words like trying and phrases like "going to" you're giving yourself an out. If you're "trying to quit smoking" and you have a cigarette, you didn't really fail. You never said you had quit, or even cut-back, cigarettes. Instead, you created an escape hatch in your words, an easy out.
At the risk of getting all Yoda on you - don't try, just do. Nobody likes to fail. Take advantage of that.
3. Tell someone your plan.
This is NOT about accountability. It's about support. You don't have to be on the radio or CNN. Just one person. There's something about letting another person know your plan that prints in more indelibly in your mind.
As an added bonus, ask them to follow up with you and ask how you're doing. It goes back to the failure rule above. It just might be the added boost of willpower you need to skip that cigarette, soda, or to get out and walk.
The mental game is the hardest. All of the above are tools to help manage that. The body will do whatever the mind tells it, so that's where any change needs to start.
It's time for bed. I'm in Hawaii and the Fit Nation crew had me swim a mile, bike 32 miles and run a bit. The only reason I can do any of that is because in January, I ran for 2 minutes instead of 90 seconds on the trail near my house. And I promised myself that the next week, I would do three minutes.
If I can go from that to where I am today, I promise: you can do whatever you want.
Good luck. I'm rooting for you. And if I can help with any inspiration, hunt me down online. Jeff@JeffDauler.com is the best place to start.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.