The Cranky Fitness Guide to Shakespeare

Um... isn't this a blog about health and fitness and whining? Shakespeare isn't covered under any of those, unless you're a student with a paper due. So what gives?

Actually, this post is Crabby's fault. It started off as a post about getting back on the exercise wagon and try try trying again, and somehow morphed into a post about Shakespeare. Clearly, Crabby is to blame.

I mean, she said to me, "Merry, write whatever you want -- no matter how weird."

Now, how could I pass up an offer like that? Could you?

The Cranky Fitness Guide to Shakespeare, or Getting going again when you're stuck on a plateau

Hey, anything you try rarely comes out perfect the first time. Look at Shakespeare. According to scholars,* his Romeo and Juliet was originally written as a baseball drama:

Romeo: But soft! Whose ball through yonder window breaks?
Juliet: It is that beast, little Timmy's the one!
Romeo: Kid, what part of 'soft' don't you understand? [Exit, pursued by Yogi Berra]

Then the story morphed into something that students had to be forced to watch.

See, if Shakespeare could start with something like that and end up with a story so well known that it's been turned into a movie with Leonardo di Caprio and a hip, cool soundtrack, and even into manga, then there's hope for you even if you seem totally stuck in something that's not working.

The trouble with the slogan 'try, try, try again' is that it sounds like you're supposed to keep doing the same damn thing over and over again until it finally works. To quote my six-year-old niece, "I don't think so."

Think and Grow Fit

Napoleon Hill wrote a best-selling book called Think and Grow Rich. Haven't read it? I'll summarize the book for you:

1. Make a plan to get rich.
2. Try the plan out.
3. See if the plan is working.
4. If the plan is not working, figure out what you're doing wrong.
5. Revise the plan to correct the mistake.
6. Repeat steps 2 through 5 until you're rolling in dough.

See? Saved you a whole lot of reading right there.

Oh all right, there was a bit more.

[Warning: Crabby, don't read this part. There's some Positive Thinking ahead.]

He wanted you to visualize yourself achieving your goal, and -- this is the clincher -- to concentrate on feeling, infusing the visualization with an emotional tone. According to Hill, the brain isn't activated by rote memorization, but by deeply felt images. You're not going to achieve unless you believe to the point that you feel the belief.

[Crabby, it's okay, you can read the rest.]

Whether Hill was right about the emotional aspect or not, the rest of his steps are so obvious that it's amazing someone put them into a book and made tons of money with them. Yes, if you're on a plateau, maybe something's not working. Analyze what you're doing and figure out if you need to change your routine or need to give your body time to work through an issue (e.g. building muscle rather than shedding pounds).

If you're stuck on a plateau, I don't think it would hurt to try visualizing and adding emotion to the image. It's what athletes do all the time. Seems to me that people who are stuck on a long-term plateau stop when they reach step #4.

They tried something, it didn't work, they stopped trying.

And lo, when you stop trying, you start gaining.

I figure if you're stuck on a plateau and nothing seems to be working, you might as well try something different. Like searching through the works of Shakespeare for inspiration or infusing your mantras with emotion.

Do you have any good tips for getting motivated and getting going again? How do you get off a plateau -- or do you? Maybe I should stop reading so much Shakespeare and start practicing patience instead. Naaaah...

*All right, one scholar. Merry's Disreputable Guide to Shakespeare, Cranky Fitness Press 2009, p. 47

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