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LeBron and the Art of Weight Maintenance

Posted Apr 02 2009 12:39pm

By Barbara Berkeley

At the risk of alienating our dear friends and readers from elsewhere in the country, I must brag just a little. Cleveland has one heck of a basketball team.

Fall and Thanksgiving 2008 011 I might be one of the world’s biggest Cavaliers fans. For years, my husband Don and I have watched the changing fortunes of our home team at the Richfield Coliseum and later at the arena that would become known as the “Q.” Many years ago, after moving to Cleveland, we were lucky enough to meet Harvey, a nice guy with terrific basketball seats. We became part of a group of people who split those season seats. Eight rows back. Center court.

The first years were exciting. Those were the years of Mark Price and Brad Dougherty. The Cavs were terrific. Only one problem. Their division also included a little team called the Chicago Bulls which featured a certain player named Michael Jordan. Time and again, the Cavs would get close to greatness only to have it snatched away on the final shot by number 23. (NOTE: This  link is for b-ball fans only. It replays one of the worst moments in Cleveland sports history. We were at this game and I’ll never forget it). Don and I consoled ourselves with the knowledge that we were present at many, many incredible performances by the greatest player ever. But you just couldn’t get past the fact that those great performances meant you were getting beat!

Then came the lean years. The Cavs were really awful; a rotating squad of names and faces you barely could remember. We still split the seats but it was tough giving away the games we didn’t want. No one wanted to watch the Cavaliers. They had become just another part of the painful Cleveland sports legacy.

But in an unbelievable twist of fate, the Cavaliers were to find their own number 23. Someone who might eventually surpass Jordan himself. Someone who would most certainly wipe away the sting of being a sports fan in Cleveland, Ohio. Along came LeBron James with a Fall and Thanksgiving 2008 013 singlemindedness that is nothing short of astonishing. By himself, he resurrected our once sorry team and the hopes of an entire sports-crazed city. And those seats that no one wanted? They’ve become hotter than an asphalt street in August. From very close range, I have been a witness to greatness.

But the greatness has not been about talent alone. It’s been about something larger in the way LeBron has remade the Cavs.
During the Cavs’s demolition of the Mavericks Sunday on ABC, there was a distinct change in tone from the national announcers. Their commentary honed in on the essence of this Cavaliers team and on the unique something which LeBron has brought to the court. That something is joy.


LeBron has announced that he’s out to win the NBA championship, certainly one of the toughest goals in sports. Yet he’s decided that the journey is going to be a blast. In fact, he’s having so much fun that he’s brought the team, the coaches, the fans and the city along with him. Even the hardened national announcers were sounding a bit envious. One of them said of the Cavs, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life!” Then he went on to report on the love-fest that was the Cavaliers bench. Time and again, the cameras showed shots of the teammates hugging, cheering for each other, dancing and laughing full-out. There were multiple replays of the complicated pre-game rituals that LeBron has instituted which include tossing rosin into the air like stardust and taking faux family portraits of the team with an imaginary camera.

I’ve learned a lot from this year’s Cavs team and even more from LeBron. Anyone who is trying to hit on a formula for success can benefit from watching him. And it’s not as far a jump from basketball to maintenance as you might think. Here are the ABCs of LBJ and how we all might apply them to our own weight-related goals.

1. The tougher the task, the more you need to throw yourself into it. For all his kidding around, LeBron never loses focus for a second. Remember that a moderate effort will always get you a moderate result.

2. No one can do it alone. Even one of the greatest players on the planet needs a supporting cast and you do too. What LBJ has discovered is the multiplication of energy that comes from a true team. Find that team, either in life or on line. Or create your own team by forming a group of maintainers and leading them to greatness.

3. Use ritual. LeBron has utilized the age-old power of ritual to galvanize both team and fans. Maintainers can use ritual and routine too. Some examples? Wear a particular piece of jewelry or clothing whenever you know that you are going to be in a challenging food situation. Like a string around your finger, let this item remind you of your goals. Start each day with a reaffirmation—perhaps by looking at old photos of yourself or by repeating some thoughts or quotes that are meaningful to you. Create your own rituals and let them work for you.

4. Don’t be afraid to fail. In an interview with 60 Minutes this week, LeBron cited this as a particularly important principle. Many maintainers are crippled by the fear of regaining. Sometimes, the fear is so intense it prevents them from observing, weighing or making the right corrections. Don’t let fear of failure get in your way. Take the three point shot at the buzzer.

5. Find the joy. This one is crucial. LeBron has taken a grueling task that involves intense physical exhaustion, constant injury and unrelenting mental focus and turned it into a celebration. In doing so, he has brought everyone along with him. We maintainers should enjoy our new lives and always keep a sense of humor about what we’re trying to accomplish. But more than just enjoying, we should find something truly great in our efforts.

Thanks for being part of the RTR team. Let’s all go out there on the floor and make it happen! And many thanks to LeBron, Mo, Delonte, Andy, Z, Ben, Daniel, Wally and all the Cavs for providing Cleveland with a season that has thrilled and inspired.

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