How the Presidential Candidates Stay Fit

 If John F. Kennedy Jr’s magazine, GEORGE, has a defining legacy, it’s that modern politicians, like celebrities, understand the iconic power and importance of their physical image more than ever before.

As we watch the two presidential candidates spar in the debate ring, we also learn fun interesting stuff about their exercise regimens while on the sidelines. Veep hopeful Paul Ryan does P90X, while Mitt Romney’s “resting heart rate” clocks in at a reptilian 40 beats per minute. But Mittens ain’t perfect—he drinks Cherry Coke Zero, eats peanut butter and honey sandwiches, making up for this by doing the elliptical for 45 minutes — day after day, after day. If they’re not elected, maybe Paul Ryan has a future as Mitt’s P90X coach. Says Romney: “I’ve never tried [P90X]. I might have him show me how to do it someday.” It’s comforting to know that Mittens is open to new things (even Romneys need variety).

Personally I like knowing that the leader of the free world still steps out of the West Wing to shoot hoops. And that Obama’s budget director, Peter Orszag, a marathon runner, deftly takes full advantage of the latest advances in goal motivation: online motivational tools which either encourage good behavior (like not eating chimichangas) or discourage bad behavior (like smoking cloves). Last week on the blog, we posted a critique of one of these tools, aptly named “Stickk,” which punishes you by automatically donating your own money to a charity you hate each time you miss your goal. Not to worry. If fear doesn’t motivate you, there are happier alternatives, which are more carrot-like in their approach.

As for me, I’m fascinated by our country’s freshly Freakonomics-informed, capitalistic obsession with fitness and goal achievement.

But a word of caution: Not all goals require a deadline. (Why would you want to end a goal, “to keep myself in excellent physical condition” or “to be an honest and trustworthy person?”)

Carrots and sticks aside, the most important facet of setting a goal is that YOU believe it’s possible to achieve it. And then get out there and just do it.  -S. Page