Not one able to sit still for very long unless I'm lost in writing or focused on a very important craft, I need to move. I also often have to be multitasking to function optimally. I was never a big reader with the irony of my ability to write. But it was the argument that I get my fictional fill from film and television, so I had to find a niche of books that appealed to other facets of me. I fell in love with content relating to wellness in the form of holistic medicine, psychology, spirituality, and obviously fitness. My never-ending desire to learn, particularly about the human condition comes through the content I absorb, and even better if it's relatable to other facets of life. Fitness has been a longtime passion of mine, and through it's consistency, I have had that loyal dedication to myself, even if all else fails, I take care of myself in this manner.
Here are some books that have inspired me to persevere and stay motivated:
When I speak of a game changer in my life, Finding Ultra is #1. I used to commute to school followed by years of work, and this large portion of my day was tedious at best. That was until I reframed the time on the bus/train/subway to be used wisely. I read this book over the course of a day. That's a record for me, that has yet to be broken. The book tells the story of Ultramarathoner's midlife crisis that turned his life around entirely toward health optimization through long endurance runs and smashing personal and professional goals. You may be familiar with his podcast, which stemmed from this book.
I had the good fortune of connecting with Rich shortly after Finding Ultra was released and he came and spoke on a panel I curated in LA back in 2015. The irony is that he noted he had just been up to my local performing arts center for a talk, a few months prior, and I had no idea. Foolishly, I thought "I could have saved myself the airfare," since that same day I scratched the side of my rental car when reversing into the metal fenced loading dock of the venue we were in.
I was enamoured with his genuine kindness, intelligence, and easygoing nature. I fangirled out and asked him to sign my copy of the book, having brought it with me specifically on my trip. Finding Ultra is the primary reason why I upped my running game and it was the validation for my plant based lifestyle that I had been living for many years without much support. I went from that aggravating feeling of having to run in gym class as a child and carrying that as a blockage into my adult dreams of long distance runs to being that bonafide psychopath that opts to head out in the dead heat of a summer's afternoon and run 20 km for fun.
It's been some time since I read this book, but I remember absorbing the content thoroughly. What stuck with me is the effects on the brain that exercise has, and after years of working out, I still often have to remind myself this. It is always evident if I have excessive thoughts, good or bad, that if I can burn some of that energy off through physical movement, I am benefitting both my mental and physical bodies.
In particular, the breakdown of how exercise can be a positive aide for addiction, anxiety, depression, and hormonal issues, was impactful and furthered my gospel spreading nature for exercise. Also, a reminder to self to practice what I preach. The content is written so effectively that I would classify it as an easy and digestible read of medical information, and I am going back to read it over the spring because of my deepened interest in Neuroplasticity.
I have started saying "Just Goggins it." I turned the man into a verb as a literal ass whooping when I need to keep going. David Goggins is just the epitome of empowerment. His life story is wild, I won't give away spoilers. When I am out on one of those 20 km fun runs as mentioned above and I start to get tired, I hear his voice in my head. He never gave up and when he was down he pulled himself up. I admire his tenacity and grit tremendously, as do so many others as you can see from the notoriety he has gained.
I particularly remember a story in Can't Hurt Me Goggins recalled from his adolescence, being an African American in a predominantly white small midwestern town, and the poor treatment he received. He learned at that time, and with all the other deemed tragic experiences he had had in his life up to that point is that people will only project to you what they feel inside. So no matter what cruelty we all face (or taking responsibility for what we put out there,) it's the internal conflict that embattles people. And that imposing of suffrage is simply the unresolved issues within that person. With this lesson, it is the understanding of fortitude and integrity. The separation of the weak and the strong comes from how you can remain compassionate towards others and push yourself beyond your perceived mental boundaries toward greatness.
He's a no bullshit philosopher that's tough as nails and can back it up. He also has a tremendous heart from what I gather and reminds me to find that inner courage to be of balance and face any and all suffrage with bravery. This goes well beyond my high-ethics of fitness, because at the end of the day, it's all about mental mastery.
As a runner, this is required reading. I had gone through the book before early in my journey, however, listening to the audiobook whilst out conquering my hilly neighborhood and trekking into some hiking trails throughout quarantine helped me better assimilate to the stories within. My brain connected to it differently. Perhaps because my physical actions were mimicking the story, or because I had reaffirmed my love affair with the sport over the course of 2020. We basically renewed our vows and found a deeper sense of commitment to one another. It certainly helped that the gym was closed for a period of time, but also much to the chagrin of my heels rubbing against the back of my sneakers. But alas, the story of the wild barefoot runners who would go marathon distances daily made me suck it up, through a leaf in the back of my shoe and keep running.
If I had to choose a brand I was a loyalist to, it would be Nike. Though I did have a few pairs of Stan Smiths to emulate the style of Run DMC and "My Adidas" when I was younger, and of course, the tearaways, I couldn't tell you the origins of the brand. I think Nike is simply more geared toward the sports I enjoy or with my own athletic pursuits with running. I love the Nike Run Club app which has some great stories from some of the early Nike team members and adopters of the brand, which has reminded me of this memoir from Phil Knight.
Shoe Dog is an entrepreneur's story, which is equally as inspirational, hence why it rounds out this list. As someone who as always tried to do my own thing, such as this blog, and other creative endeavours, I like to absorb content that has me firing on all cylinders when it comes to motivation and growth. The grit, and motivation that turned Nike into the juggernaut that it is, is that reminder to keep going.
Interested in reading any of these books?
There are links to each product on Amazon to help you find your next read.