In fitness and wellness there’s a huge emphasis on looking forward. It’s critical to long term success to not get bogged down in your past missteps, to reflect deeply on the missed chances, or to punish yourself for mistakes. Yet it’s also important to remember that to understand where you’re going, an occasional look back is needed.
Change isn’t static. It’s constantly happening, and with that change and growth you will find you aren’t the same individual in many ways. You still need to be able to look back and honor the person you were. Look back at the old snapshots of you when you were unhappy and unhealthy. Understand that you were that person, and that you still have pieces of that person in you. Don’t just ignore her. Honor her. Thank her for being strong enough to keep hanging on, for being able to try just one more time.
Celebrate that strength. Remember how hard it was to get here. Commit to finding a way to keep moving forward.
Love the person you were as much as you love who you are.
Intensity is a big fitness buzz word. Intensity brings to mind a shattered body, sweat pooling on the floor, chest heaving up and down, fighting for oxygen. Intensity can be a marker of how hard you’ve worked.
It doesn’t have to mean you’ve destroyed yourself. Intensity can also be about your approach to fitness and life. It can mean you have excellent focus and an ability to push through confusion and distractions. You may not be able to physically do an Earth shattering workout. But you prepare and execute each workout with as much effort and energy as you can.
Don’t be intimidated by the fact others around you talk about annihilating their bodies. Don’t worry that you need to vomit post workout as a mark of your strength. Worry about giving the very best possible effort you can manage. Do your best. If walking 1000 steps in a day is all you can do, then do it with all the focus and energy you can bring to the table. Don’t let anything get in the way of that 1000 steps. Finish, and rejoice that you finished. Then take just one more step.
That’s intensity. You own this.
Monday is a favorite day for folks to “start” a new fitness program. It’s the technical start to the Western work week, and it’s a day about beginnings. As part of this, there’s a need to have “a plan”. The Plan quickly becomes an all consuming part of your life. You spend hours tweaking workouts, meals, and other nuts and bolts that will help you get yourself back in shape. All that work means you MUST.START.MONDAY.
Then a funny thing happens. The plan starts to take longer to work out. There’s little things that flag as problems. You don’t have gluten free bread, so you can’t start yet. You need another set of weight plates and can’t start without them. You’re still shopping for “the right” gym. On and on it goes, and eventually The Plan fades off into the sunset, and yet another Monday shows up where you don’t start.
Now don’t get me wrong, planning is good. Planning is a key to long term success. Thing is, all the planning in the world does NOTHING if you do not actually get your rear in gear and do something. Yeah it’s a funny thing, if you don’t move it, you will never, ever lose it.
So this Monday, stop worrying about your plan. Get up and go do something. Heck, do 20 minutes on the treadmill. Just move, get it done, then move on. You can start your plan on a Tuesday and the world won’t end. Your plan can kick off any day of the week. But right here, right now, you need to get yourself moving. So go, get off the computer and go do something. Anything. Move. Stop thinking, get moving.
I’ll be here when you come back.
The volume of data is just amazing. In a day I can get 10 different view points on the same health and fitness related issue. Are eggs okay? Close your eyes, hit search on Google, and get 20 different responses. Is it any wonder that we are all drowning in a sea of information?
Dogma seems to be a viable life raft. Grab on as the latest and greatest idea floats by and get pulled up by the helping hands of those who believe. Their method is best. Their method is the only way to find health, wealth, and wisdom. Those other methods are all for pansies. You throw yourself in with a full heart and go for it. You manage 6 weeks, 12 weeks, a year, and think that this is the way.
Then something comes up and BAM, you are back on your ass. Obviously it’s your fault. You weren’t good enough, or smart enough, or dedicated enough. Dogma strikes. Of course it’s you. It couldn’t possibly be the method, or even better it couldn’t possibly be the fact that humans evolve and what you started out doing to get in shape won’t be the same thing that keeps you there.
So the question is, just how do we find a way to fitness and health without beating ourselves up? That is the question.
Everything inside you says give up, it’s too hard. Don’t listen. Dig in, dig deep, find a way.
You are worth it.
Gary Allen wrote this song about the death of his wife in 2004. It’s a powerful song about grief and the reality that life can and will go on. As hard as things are, as much as it hurts, they will improve.
You don’t have to walk around with a relentlessly positive attitude when things are going wrong. It’s okay to be upset, angry, and frustrated with the situation. The thing to remember is that you still need to find a way to go through the motions of life. That includes your workouts and eating right. I promise you that throwing your own health to the side in a moment of crisis will not make things better. Because eventually you are going to have to get back to work and get on with your life. All the progress you made will be wasted, and you get to start over again.
Yes this moment in time hurts. But at the end of the day, there are wonderful things around you. Eventually you’ll see the wonder again. You will enjoy doing things with other. You will find meaning. Every second of life isn’t supposed to be beautiful and perfect. But at the end of the day, the joy is in the ride. Make your life a good one.