• coachsarah

8/30/19 - No Only About It

The Morning Mantra is available on iTunes, Overcast, Stitcher, Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, Youtube and pretty much anywhere podcasts can be found. Transcripts forthcoming on the blog at www.coachedandloved.com

I don’t know where the phrase came from, because MY minimum is anything but bare.

Hi! This is Coach Sarah, and this is the Morning Mantra!

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Hi, my name is Sarah Axelrod. I'm a run coach and a lover of poetry, and a person who cares about your well-being. You don't have to be an athlete to be #coachedandloved, and if you need an anchor to hold onto as you move through a tough situation, you've come to the right place.

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Today’s mantra is: no only about it.

I used to work in an office with a hot-water kettle. It had a transparent stripe down one side with a line near the bottom. “Minimum fill line,” it said. It’s there for a reason - you need to put at least that much water in the kettle in order to submerge the heating element, which will burn out if it’s left exposed when the kettle heats.

At home, I use a steel tea kettle that I heat on my stove, in part because we’d burned out one too many of those hot water heaters (maybe from not minding the minimum fill line? Who knows). It’s nice, and I know it will last a long time. But I really do miss the minimum fill line. It was so clear and so sensible. “This is the minimum amount of water required to protect the longevity of this appliance,” it said. Enjoy your drink!

Never once did I wonder whether the minimum fill line was merely a sly suggestion intended to make me think I was adding enough water, only to later discover that there was a different, hidden, implied minimum. Never did I feel the urge to overachieve, to prove that I was someone who did WAY more than the bare minimum (of COURSE I did, I’m so type-A, I care SO MUCH, let me show you!). There was just no need.

And yet, think about how you treat the minimum most of the time. When I was in college, if a coach assigned me 45-60 minutes of easy running, I would definitely assume that the coach really meant “60 minutes or you’re a pussy, and this is the definitive test right here.” Think about Office Space, and that Jennifer Aniston mantra I did a couple of months ago. “What do you think about someone who only does the bare minimum?” her boss asks her, but it’s clearly a question he already knows the answer to. Without even questioning it, we automatically look at attaining the minimum in this way: proof that you don’t have what it takes to overachieve.

Well hear this now. In the Fitness Protection Program, we love minimums. Minimums are fill lines on hot water heaters. They are educated and researched guidelines to help you get where you want to go. When we give ranges, we ask that you use those ranges wisely, judiciously, that you actually assess what you need and what you want and that you find a place in that range that serves you. When we give minimums, we’re not handing out secret incentives to SHOW US WHAT YOU GOT and BLOW US AWAY. That’s not how you blow us away. If you do the minimum, guess what: you did it exactly fucking right. And if you overcame the urge to overachieve and did the minimum BECAUSE it was what you knew you needed, and if you had some feelings about that but stopped at the minimum anyway, then guess what. I am proud of you.

So, the mantra. Don’t come to me and talk yourself down for “only doing the minimum” as a runner or as a parent or as a human being (that goes double, by the way, for “only doing a half marathon” which is a full fucking race). If you found that minimum fill line and you inched past it JUST enough to cover the heating element and keep from burning out, then guess what: you are smart and you are tenacious. Maybe you have been dragging lately and you haven’t wanted to do that thing. Do NOT forget that the line is there for a reason: it’s telling you that you did enough. You start to feel the passive-aggressive managers in your head bearing down on you with “what kind of person only does the bare minimum” and I want you to hear my voice in your head saying “AINT NO ONLY ABOUT IT.”

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You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And if you need MOAR reasons to believe that, follow @morningmantrapod on Instagram.

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