Dedicated night owl finds time for Get Fit Challenge

Ten professionals and 10 teams are competing in the 2014 Get Fit Challenge, a spinoff of IB’s popular Fittest Executive Challenge. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Follow along on Facebook and then find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 22. This week, IB checks in with Randy Gunter, partner and creative director of The Gunter Agency, who is competing in the individual challenge.

I hate working out. I have a treadmill. I have a weight machine. I have a room dedicated to working out. And I hate doing it. It’s boring.

I would much rather play a pickup game of basketball or go hiking or go for a bike ride. Problem is, by the time I can get a workout in, it’s late at night. (We’ve been extremely busy at work and then I have other commitments.) Going for a bike ride after dark isn’t really practical for me.

I have always envied the “morning people” who can get up and work out. Articles suggest that night owls and early risers have different brain structures, which correspond to different “chronotypes.” It is suggested that these preferences are caused by biological and genetic forces. You will find that a high proportion of creative people identify as night owls. (And since my job involves writing, design, music, etc., I am guessing most people would put me in that creative category.)

So how does one force oneself to do something he or she doesn’t like to do? I had a college professor who said that he “rewarded” himself for going into the studio at night and working on paintings. It was too easy for him to get home after teaching during the day, have dinner, and then sit in front of the television. So he allowed himself to smoke only when he went into the studio to work at night. (He mentioned cigarettes, so I’ll trust that is what he was actually smoking.) This was his reward for forcing himself to do something that was easier not to do.

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Now I’m not advocating my former professor’s particular reward mechanism, but it is an interesting idea. Tony Robbins talks about how he stopped overeating and lost weight by rewarding himself for not finishing a full plate of food. His reward was that he would listen to classical music as soon as he was done, while leaving food on the plate. He takes it a step further and notes that the synapses of the brain get rewired, and that the pleasure of listening to the classical music gets transferred to the pleasure of pushing a plate of food away before it’s empty. So this expands on this interesting concept of rewarding yourself for doing something that you don’t want to do. (It also relates to people’s ability to change old habits. How many of us were taught to “finish everything on your plate”?)

I’m still searching for that reward mechanism that will motivate me to work out all of the time. So far the best thing I’ve found is that I can watch episodes of The Pitch on Netflix while I’m running on the treadmill. (It’s an ad agency show.) It’s not exactly something I look forward to with anticipation, but it’s a start.

Meet all of the competitors here and see who wins at the In Business Expo & Conference.

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