Mackenzie Brown

A key question for a successful fitness journey

By Mackenzie Brown

I started my most recent fitness journey 10 years ago. Before this, I always started getting in shape with a goal of weight loss or something similar and, when I didn’t achieve that in a few months, I would quit. I probably did this 20 or more times throughout my 20s.

But 10 years ago, I did something different.

I had just moved to Lloydminster, working a very stressful job in the human services field, and had a realization when I heard a crazy fact about retention in my field: I heard that, on average, people only stay employed with us for two years. When I looked around at people who had succeeded, climbed the corporate ladder and had job satisfaction, I realized something about them: Every one of them had good self care — something I did not have.

With this new realization, I started my fitness journey with a new goal: To simply feel a bit better.

Going into this, I knew about solution-focused questions and how they can help inspire change for people. With this knowledge, I adapted a solution-focused scaling question for my journey where, on a a scale of 0-10:

  • 10 is: I feel happy and energized! I am ready to take on my day and succeed even if there are challenges.
  • 0 is: I feel terrible, I am miserable and have no energy. I don’t know how I am going to face life’s challenges.

I started asking myself this question before and after every workout. This is when something incredible happened; whether I was swimming, biking or running, my number always went up after my workout. Sometimes it was by one, sometimes by six, but it always, always went up.

Mackenzie Brown leads a couch-to-5km program.
Mackenzie Brown leads a couch-to-5km program.

Then, on the really hard days when I felt stressed out, instead of deciding not to work out, I realized these were the times I needed it the most. Every time my brain tried to tell me to skip and rest, I thought about that scaling question and the success I’d had, and went to do my workout.

With this simple trick, I have managed to stay in shape for the last 10 years. I still ask myself a variation of this question every single time and, 10 years later, my number has never gone down after a workout.

Today, I am a race director in Lloydminster and have completed many races including, marathons, ultra marathons and an IronMan triathlon. I also coach a Couch-to-5km program each spring.

When I am coaching, I ask my new runners to scale themselves, or to create their own scale that fits their goals. Every year, people tell me scaling and goal setting is what makes them keep coming back even when things get hard, and ultimately leads to them continuing their running journey.

If you are struggling to stay motivated, I encourage you to try this. It might just be the thing that makes a difference to you.

Mackenzie Brown is a human services manager, race director, avid runner and triathlete, and one of the leaders of the Lloydminster Runners club.