Warning: This article contains entirely too many references to How I Met Your Mother. Enter at your own risk.
No, it’s not saying “I love you” on the first date. Classic Schmosby.
In fact, Ted Mosby, the main character of the popular sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,” has a pretty terrible track record of going to the gym. In the episode where the gang joins a gym, Ted is alone among the main characters in never working out.
In later episodes he is seen to do yoga, pilates, and (briefly) running, but in general he isn’t exactly someone to model your health on.
Adding to the confusion, his name is used to describe a few different things in the show. “Tedding out” about something is “to overthink something with disastrous consequences.” “The Ted Mosby” is when Barney pretends to have been recently left at the altar. And, of course, Ted is known for getting very invested in relationships very quickly.
But none of that has anything to do with fitness. So why do I bring him up?
Getting Fit with the Mosby Method
Ted’s big contribution to fitness is revealed in Season 5, when he teaches Barney his trick for getting over relationships.
Whenever a relationship ends, Ted writes a letter to his future self detailing why it didn’t work. Whenever he wants to give in and go back to the relationship, he reads the letter and holds out.
This technique, what I call “the Mosby Method,” can be easily applied to fitness.
It works for two reasons:
- It’s available whenever you are having doubts or second thoughts. You can use it to remind yourself of your goals and confront negative thoughts immediately.
- It represents the thoughts that you have when free from the distractions and stressors in your immediate surroundings. The letter represents a precommitment, which I touch on in this article.
How to use the Mosby Method
The core of Ted’s breakup technique is that it gives you something to latch onto in moments of weakness. You can adapt that idea to help yourself work out more consistently.
You’ll need a method of writing ideas down that will stay with you at all times. I think something handwritten has a nice effect for this purpose (because it feels more personal), so I’d use a small index card. Some other physical writing or a note on your phone would work too.
At the top of your letter, jot down your overall goal and 3 reasons that goal is personally important to you. If you haven’t come up with those yet, check out this article on effective goal setting.
In the bottom half of your letter, answer these 3 questions:
- How do I feel when I give up and skip workouts?
- What part of this workout will help me reach my goals, and how?
- What do you like about working out?
That’s it. The beauty of the Mosby Method is that it’s so simple. All you have to do is read your letter when you’re thinking about skipping.
You’ll be reminded of your goals and their importance, remember that skipping workouts won’t make you feel good, and get some much needed motivation from your past self.
Here’s an example of a Mosby Method letter, to give you a sense of how they look.
And here’s the text only:
“Dear Future Self,
Seems like you’re having some motivation trouble? Keep reading – you can do it!
Your goal is to lose 20 pounds and fit into your old jeans by the end of this year. It’s important because:
- You’ll feel more confident meeting people for the first time and going out on dates
- You’ll feel more comfortable in your body, have higher self-esteem, and stop worrying that you used to look better
- You’ll be healthier and stronger, and won’t have to feel guilty when you indulge in dessert every once in a while
Remember how it feels to not work out? I know it’s tempting to call it a day, but is it worth feeling lazy, like a quitter? You might feel crappy now, but you know you always wind up feeling energized after the gym (and you’ll feel even worse if you don’t go).
Remember your goals – the squats in this workout will help you get firm, toned legs that look awesome in those old jeans. Every workout is another step closer to that goal – stick it out!
Still not convinced? Think of how good you’ll feel after this workout. You might be a little out of breath, but you’ll be awake and energized. Plus, then you can really enjoy a good Netflix session without feeling guilty. Remember how good it feels to slip under the covers with a laptop, take a deep breath and feel your (slightly) sore muscles, and watch your shows without a care in the world?
That feeling is just one workout away.
You can do it,