6 Fun Fitness Lessons From Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin with the Knicks and reportersWhat can the first Asian-American, Harvard graduate, NBA player, and instant sports sensation teach us about becoming fit?

Before Jeremy Lin came on the scene as an NBA starter, the Knicks were 8-15. He’s helped them very quickly get to .500. Since he came off the bench, they’re 8 and 2 (at least as of this post)! His 136 points in his first five NBA starts are the most by any player in league history! This kid’s rocking, and everyone’s talking about him.

I like his story, and I think he’s got a few important things to share with those of us struggling to become fit. photo: nikk_la

1. You might start out on the bench, but eventually you will get the ball

Jeremy Lin didn’t get signed by the Knicks out of high school or even college to a multi-million dollar contract. In fact, he was cut by two different teams and sent to play development-league basketball before even getting to New York.

Then once he got there, he rode the pine. He sat out 10 games before getting put in for less than 7 minutes at the beginning of February. Once he made it into the game, though, he hasn’t left it.

Things don’t always happen right out of the gate, so don’t get disappointed by it. Would you be content if you tried to run a mile 10 times and you couldn’t make it happen? I wouldn’t. I’d probably get fed up and quit.

Don’t. Accept that some things are going to happen slowly, and just keep progressing. If Lin had stopped after his first cut, we’d never have heard of him. If he’d left after not playing in 9 games, we’d still have no idea who he was. But he was patient, and now he’s a baller.

2. You can do the unexpected – and be awesome at it

“Conventional wisdom” would have suggested that Jeremy Lin would never play basketball. When he started high school, he was only 5’3″. Eventually he graduated from a university that pumps out lawyers and scientists, not basketball players (he went to Harvard). This next point’s going to get me in trouble, but it illustrates a point: he’s Asian. How many Asian-American basketball players do you know? I’ll tell you: just one.

Jeremy Lin shouldn’t be a basketball star. He graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics. He was not noted for any basketball-related talent (although he’s played his whole life). Yet he’s probably the most popular NBA player at the moment.

I’m not saying CW is always wrong, I’m just saying it’s not always right. Stereotypes, like rules, are meant to be broken, so do it.

If there’s a fat person at a buffet and they’re loading it up, CW (in this case stereotype) says that they’re just overeating and aren’t helping themselves. It’s their fault they’re fat and are only making it worse. No one notices if they’re keeping it to nice meats and veggies, or no one asks if it’s their cheat day. What really gets my goat is that no one has this internal discussion if a skinny person is overeating.

Ignore the scripts in your life that say you can’t be thin or healthy. Forget what life seems to be setting up for you. Rewrite your fitness scripts and make them read: “I struggled, but I persevered, and now I know I can be fit and healthy.”

“Convention” just means “everyone’s doing it”. It doesn’t mean you have to.

3. You’re never going to please everyone, so don’t try

You’d think that someone new who comes on the scene and surprises everyone would get only high praise. Everyone loves an underdog story (see also: Moneyball), and Jeremy Lin is one of the best at the moment.

But as quickly as people started singing his praises, others started knocking him down. Floyd Mayweather and a few others have said it’s only special because he’s Asian.

I like Lin’s attitude about it all:

“I’m not working hard and practicing day in and day out so that I can please other people. My audience is God. … The right way to play is not for others and not for myself, but for God.”

If you’ve been at this for a little bit, you may have experience this already. Some people will love your decisions, some people will call you stupid. They’ll try to say your efforts to avoid grains aren’t necessary and are just silly. They’ll tell you you need to spend an hour at the gym every day.

Others will think it’s cool and interesting, but in the end, it doesn’t really matter what others think. Don’t try to please them, just make sure you’re following your plan. Like Lin, some of us find even deeper support when we look to God for strength.

There is one other person I do this for: my wife. No one else really matters to me in terms of my fitness. Find your one other person who will support you, and don’t worry about what the rest of them say.

4. Your teammates help you be a better player, and you help them be better

Carmelo Anthony said of Lin,

I want Jeremy to have the ball. Hands down. I want him to create for me. I want him to create for Amar’e. I want him to create for everybody and still be as aggressive as he’s been over the past two weeks. (source)

In basketball there are these things called assists. Basically if someone is headed towards the basket, you throw them the ball, and they make it, you both get credit. They get the point, and you get an assist. Lin’s teammates know that if he has the ball, not only will he score a lot for the team, but he’ll also help them score a lot.

In his last 10 games, he’s scored an average of nearly 24 points a game, but he’s also helped convert nearly 19 points a game in assists. That’s not bad!

It’s helpful to have someone with you. Using the buddy system helps keep all of you accountable. On top of that, when you surround yourself with like-minded people, it makes the job seem much easier. Not only will you have less space for the critics, being able to share your results, recipes, and even failures with each other keeps you motivated longer!

5. Focus on the way you play, not on your stats

Lin said he prefers to

put more of an emphasis on my attitude and the way that I play, rather than my stats or whether we win a championship.

Obviously it’s important to know how well the way you play the game is working, but I bet if he started focusing on getting 25-30 points a game instead of playing a solid one, he’d meet that mark far less than he does. He’d take more shots and play more selfishly, and that’s antithetical to the way he likes to play.

Instead, he works on his game. As a result of a solid game, he scores big.

I’m not saying it’s not important to have goals. What I am saying is that goals are used to measure progress, not necessarily become your motivation to work.

If you (I’m completely speaking to myself first here) spend time focusing on what you’re eating and what you’re dong with your time – as long as those things line up with the goal you have – you’ll be more likely to meet your goal.

On the other hand, if you only spend time thinking about your goal and beating yourself up over it, you’ll get frustrated and quit sooner. I know how it works; I’ve done it myself my whole life. When I focus on habits instead of goals, I do much better.

6. If you play like a superstar, you could land the cover of Sports Illustrated.

(Click the image to read the cover story in the SI Vault)

Lesson: Ok, maybe none of us will be on the cover of SI, but I’m really just talking about respect.

When you work hard and get positive results – you know, playing like a superstar – people will notice. They’ll start to ask what you’re doing that’s causing you to lose weight or get stronger. Then you can start to share it with them in a non-hostile environment.

You may even get their ball rolling and pull them onto your team!

One last lesson

You’ve probably noticed that Jeremy Lin’s a Christian. It’s one of the reasons I’m excited for his stardom; I identify with him in a few different ways, this being one of them. There’s a verse in the Bible that I think would serve to motivate anyone, even people who don’t believe a word it says.

“We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame,” from Romans 5:3-5.

When you feel like you’re suffering on this journey, remember that it produces perseverance or patience. As you keep pushing through, rest easily knowing that your fitness character is being built up. Eventually, you’ll start to feel yourself getting thinner and stronger, and that will produce hope. Hope that one day you’ll meet your final goal, and who would be embarrassed by that?!

If you’re interested in his progress, you can follow Jeremy Lin on Twitter.

What’s your take on Jeremy Lin? Is he on the cusp of something great, or just another face in the crowd?

Lots of info was gathered from Jeremy Lin’s Wikipedia page

Related Posts:

Over 4K people have already started - You can be next!

Is the food list on a slow-carb diet too restrictive for you? Do you get bored eating the same thing over and over again? Are you looking for something new?
By signing up to be on the FMF mailing list, you'll get my Favorite Slow-Carb Recipes series that I've designed specifically for my list members. Some of them include:
  • Spicy Lentil Stew
  • Thai Chicken & Peppers
  • my awesome (and freezable) breakfast casserole
  • slow-carb pizza
  • and more!
Your name and email address is all I need to start sending you your recipes!

Please like FMF on Facebook!


  1. Nice job drawing parallels between the Lin story and fitness lessons. Regardless of whether Jeremy Lin continues to be a rising star or be a flash-in-the-pan, I admire his ability to maximize his God given talents. We all have talents of some sort, but too often we don’t use them to our fullest potential

  2. I think the jury is still out on what Linn can and will do long term. Not sure how prolonged the hype will last. We shall see! But regardless, I give him props for what he’s accomplished so far. You can’t get to where he is right now on pure luck.

Speak Your Mind


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.