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Tom’s Fitness & Paris Martial Arts


Posted: September 10, 2009

When writing this column, I usually come to my laptop with a pretty good idea of what I want to write about. Sometimes it’s a continuation of a topic from the week before. Sometimes it’s something I’ve been thinking about for awhile.

There are times, though, when I have no idea what to write about. That can be pretty tough, especially with a weekly deadline. Thank God it doesn’t happen too often. But when it does, even the act of writing often brings an idea or two (seems to be working).

It works when writing songs, too. You can’t just lie around waiting for inspiration to strike. You’ve got to go digging for it. Play your instrument. Listening to the sounds and paying attention to what’s going through your mind.

Whether it’s with this column, or in my music, I’ve usually been struck by something someone has said, done, or something that’s happened. Sometimes it’s me, but usually it’s about other people. The best songs and stories are about people and the things they go through. Those are things we can relate to.

In the end, it’s always because something seemed important enough to dwell on for awhile, that I end up writing about it. I can’t let it go. I want to make sense of it.

Once in a while I have to find inspiration for a workout. Usually, I’m pumped and ready to go. I’m lucky that way—I really like to do it. For some people, it’s the absolute last thing they want to do. Tough finding inspiration if you’re that person.

Now there are lots of chores to do around here—cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping and mopping the floors—that I’m not really inspired to do. It’s never ending. It would be nice to use a Steven Covey approach and “think with the end in mind.” Just visualize those sparkling urinals, squeaky clean floors, and happy customers, and I’m all over it, right?

That approach works pretty good when planning and building a business, but it just doesn’t motivate me to stick my hand into a toilet. Nothing really does. You’ve just got to do it. Thank God for plungers. I mean really. You wouldn’t believe what some people will do. And guys are pretty much pigs compared to the gals. I never have to plunge the ladies toilets.

At moments like that, the only way to find inspiration and motivation is to simply just get started. That’s what I do. Just get started. You put it off until you can’t put it off anymore, and then you hold your nose (figuratively speaking) and just get started.

An interesting thing happens. Once you’ve actually started and gotten past all the reasons you didn’t want to do it, it takes on a life of its own. You start feeling good about the fact that you’re actually doing it.

Then you start liking the results. In the bathroom, for example, it is nice seeing the mirrors clean, and the counters shining. The toilets sparkle and the floor looks good. It smells good. There’s a certain pride in a job done well, or even just a job done.

It’s the same thing with a certain workout we do in our groups. Some of the tougher workouts have names, like “Cindy” and “Angie.” I think it’s based on how the hurricanes have names, and how these workouts make you feel like a hurricane just blew through.

This one’s a great CrossFit workout (for more info go to called “Fran.” Like I mentioned before, I’m usually pretty motivated, but this gives me great pause. It’s 21 thrusters (95# front squat with a shoulder press), 21 pull-ups, 15 thrusters, 15 pull-ups, and then 9 thrusters, 9 pull-ups, non-stop, as fast as you can do it. I’m fine with the pull-ups, but the thrusters just take it out of me. It’s going to be hard, I know it, and pretty much dread it.

It doesn’t matter how good it’s going to be for me, and how it’s going to build power and explosiveness. It doesn’t matter how it prepares you for a fight, so you have the stamina to not only engage the aggressor, but keep going, full bore, until you have control over the situation.

With this one, I have to treat it like I treat the toilets. Just jump in (figuratively speaking). Just get started. Once I start, I’m fine. It’s tough, but I’m O.K. Then later, there’s a real sense of accomplishment, because I did something I knew was going to be hard, but I did it anyway.

Marathoners and those who do triathlons understand this. They know there’s going to be pain, but they thrive on it. They push through it to get the finish. For them, the test is everything. They want to know they’ve been measured, and aren’t found wanting. I think even in our simple workouts, we can find that same feeling. In life even.

I’ll forever be in awe of the soldiers that have served our country under live fire. Watch “Band of Brothers” sometime and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Whether it’s WWII, Kosovo, or nowadays, Afghanistan and Iraq, these people knew what they were getting into and still faced it anyway.

Or the police and firefighters that went up the stairs of the Twin Towers. It’s not the instinctive thing to do—run toward the problem—but they did it. Even if it was their job, it was still heroic. It was so inspiring that I had to write a song about it. I sing it in my head when I’m running, especially when the miles get tough. I know you can’t hear the melody, but maybe someday I’ll get to sing it for you.

“IT TAKES A HERO” ©Tom Dolan 2009

Remember pictures of the airplanes; police and firefighters everywhere
They went runnin’ up the staircase; then we couldn’t find them anywhere
And I know they had their orders, but all the weight was on their shoulders

Sometimes it takes a hero, to do the things that must be done
And the hero keeps on going, when the rest of us would want to run, away
It takes a hero

They were driving down the highway; it’s not as easy as it used to be
Now the desert makes its own rules; instead of bullets, it’s I.E.D.’s
And I know they had their orders, but all the weight was on their shoulders


A hero isn’t always what it seems to be, it could be you, it even could be me
But a hero doesn’t really always want to be, there

He was stumbling up the pathway; the pain of everything was pressing down
Cause he knew a cross was waiting; and the truth was he’d done nothing wrong
But he knew someday we’d need him, so he chose to buy our freedom


First place for Week Ten of Biggest Loser “8” was a tie between Brittany Cline and Tammy Hewitt, who both lost 1.1% of their body weight, and 1.6 lbs. Since Tammy has more weekly wins, Brittany got the $20 gift card from Terry Elston and State Farm Insurance. She’s lost 16.4 lbs in the ten weeks, and Tammy has lost 27.0 lbs. Now that’s inspiring.

Maybe you can find your inspiration by signing up for Biggest Loser “9” before Friday, September 25th. BL “9” starts Saturday, September 26th at 10:00.