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Column: Impulse buy or motivational strategy?

Have you ever really thought about what motivates you? Gets you really going on something you've been thinking about for a while, but you keep putting off? Well, this year, it turns out Tony Orlando was my motivation.

In all honesty, it was almost time, anyway. I'm one of those people who decides to go to the gym and get into shape on an annual basis. Not that I usually end up staying with my workout plan more than six months. At least I try.

I figure I'm doing well this year. I've never liked to be at the gym right at the beginning of the year, when everyone else has just set their New Year's resolutions. Too crowded. I like to get my start in the spring. This year, I actually started with a few walks outdoors in February. I figured that was pretty bold.

But really, I started my annual fitness bout March 1. I had to. Not because the number of Self and Fitness and Shape magazines I subscribe to had piled up again, but because I'd just purchased the Romancing the 70s Time/Life music collection two days before, and it wasn't cheap.

Yep. I got suckered in by an infomercial. And not just any informercial. One that promised me 155 of the best love songs ever written, for just five easy installments of $29.99.

I can remember being in first or second grade and being excited for Monday nights. That's when the Tony Orlando and Dawn show was on, and I had a huge crush on Tony Orlando. Plus, Dawn always had such pretty dresses. I'd even put on a dress for the occasion -- that was back when I thought the people on television could see me.

Well, one night last summer, I came home from a date with a guy I'd gone to grade school with. After an evening of reminiscing about being kids on a playground and all that good stuff, it was no surprise when I got sucked in to the Romancing the 70s informercial, which is hosted by Tony Orlando.

As I sat there listening to just those clips of songs, different scenes from my childhood flashed through my mind -- rollerskating, slumber parties, the hardware store my parents owned. Girl Scout and 4H camps. And there was Tony Orlando, too. I was hooked immediately.

I think I knew that night that eventually I'd make the purchase. It was just a matter of time. I had even gone so far as to log the telephone number in my cell phone.

But I didn't want it to be an impulse purchase. For months, when I'd come home late, I'd surf through the infomercials, looking for that one. And then I'd just sit and argue with myself over whether to buy it.

Well, in late February I made that purchase thanks to Tony Orlando (and, maybe, the couple of beers I'd had after work). I bucked up. I punched in the numbers. I gave my e-mail address, I plugged in my credit card number. Two weeks later, my complete collection of Romancing the 70s arrived at my home.

Somewhere along the way, I realized I'd just paid a lot of money for old music. So I rationalized with myself -- if I'd just get my bum to the gym 12 times or more a month, that would decrease my monthly payment, and I'd offset the cost of the music. I brought the CDs in to work, I loaded up my iPod. I don't know that my co-workers are as thrilled with my purchase as I am, but they're also younger than I am.

A couple of nights a week I make the walk to the gym, Crystal Gayle singing about how it makes her brown eyes blue or Glenn Campbell and his Southern Nights. While everyone else around me is likely listening to some upbeat hip hop, I'm focused on what I have to lift and Mac Davis is telling me -- baby, baby -- not to get hooked on him.

Whatever it is, so far my plan seems to be working. I hit my required 12 stops this month, and I'm planning to continue next month.

Whatever works. If it means I had to spend a crazy amount of money on 70's music so I could motivate myself to get back to the gym and get healthy, so be it. And if my enthusiasm wanes in three months, at least I've got some good music. Thanks, Tony.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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