Picture it, you’re walking out of the YMCA with someone. While you are a member of a gym, you weren’t even there to work out. You were there to support an event. Yet as you walk to your vehicle, a car drives by. A passenger yells out their window, “I think you need to work out a lot more!” This person has just judged you on what they saw in a brief few seconds. But let me share what they didn’t see.
- You have already lost 40 lbs. (give or take).
- You are more active than you have been in as long as you can remember.
- Your muscles are growing.
- Your body is shrinking.
- The other night you ran for the first time in years. You didn’t even realize you could until you tried.
- You’re over halfway through meeting a challenge of working out 100 times in 6 months.
- You are able to consistently up your weight used when working out surprising yourself on how strong you really are.
- You are not lazy as you used to be. You now want to be doing things instead of lounging around.
- You are eating healthier than you have in years.
- You are starting to realize you really are worth it.
There are many more truths this person does not see. When it comes down to it, what this person said doesn’t matter. This person passed through your life in approximately 5 seconds. Is that a person worth listening to? Is that a person worth believing? Is it worth putting everything you know aside to believe what this one person said? No! The only person you have to answer to 24 hours a day is yourself. So stand tall, stand firm, and hold tight to what you know is true. Listen to yourself (those positive voices, not the negative ones), not the strangers who know nothing about you.
Many of us have seen the movie Finding Nemo. And if you’ve seen it then you probably recognize when someone is singing, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” Well next time you think of giving up – on anything – I want you to remember this song, with a small tweak. “Just keep going, just keep going…”
Quitting is easy. Anyone, literally anyone, can be a quitter. It takes no effort, no skill, no planning, no muscle, no thought. It’s probably one of the easiest things in the world you can do.
I am quite skilled in quitting if you want me to be honest. I’ve quit more “diets” and workout plans than I’ve stuck to. I’ve quit jobs. I’ve quit friendships. I’ve quit trying when something hasn’t gone my way. I have a lot of experience in quitting. But I cannot call myself a quitter. Why you ask? Because this time I am not quitting.
The going is getting tough. I’ve lost quite a bit of weight, but I can tell it’s not coming off as quickly anymore. I could quit. But I won’t. Revamping my eating habits is very difficult. I’ve admitted it before and I will admit it again – I LOVE food. It’s hard to stay away from what I really want and sacrifice for what I should be eating. I could quit. But I won’t. There are days when I just don’t want to go to the gym. I don’t feel that great, I’m tired, I just don’t feel like putting in that much work. I could quit. But I won’t.
If I’m going to be bluntly honest, I have considered giving up on this blog. Not many people are reading it. My last post only got 1 view. I wondered why I’m even doing it. The reason is because someone out there is in my shoes. Someone has tried to improve themselves and has quit so many times before. Someone out there doesn’t have anyone to support and encourage them. Someone out there doesn’t have the answers and has no one to ask. Someone out there is looking, searching for someone who understands – so that they no longer feel alone on this journey. That someone is me. I could quit. But I won’t.
My point is simple – Just.Keep.Going. No matter how tough it gets. No matter how tired you are. No matter how much you would love that donut so much more than that banana. You can rest. You can pause. You can even have a siesta if you choose. But whatever you do – just keep going! Do not give up. You are the only person who can hold you back. Don’t let that happen. “Just keep going, just keep going, just keep going…”
Have you ever gone grocery shopping when trying to lose weight? What a trip! You have to eat. But you have to choose what to eat. A grocery store is filled with decisions – some good, some bad. And it’s up to you to choose. But oh what a journey! We went shopping today at one of the mega superstores (I’ll decline saying which as that doesn’t matter) and it was quite the experience. Especially if you go when you’re hungry…
You walk in and immediately you are greeted by a wall of pizzas. If you’re choosing a low-carb option, you put your hand up to hide the temptation from your sight and keep marching on – straight to the stack-up in the center aisle filled with those luscious goodies – cakes, cookies, cinnamon rolls and everything in between. Thankfully on the right you’re faced with fruits and vegetables – the saving grace. Mind you a few months ago I likely would have avoided this section like the plague – I now crave it.
If you’re lucky you avoid all of the “bad” foods in the aisles to come. You have a goal in mind, you know what you’re going to get, you stick with it, and you creatively figure out how to dodge those sweet temptations. Until you head to the checkout lane. And there you are taunted and teased the whole time you stand in line. There are sodas, flavored iced coffee – all with a lot of sugar. There are chips – loaded with carbs. And then there’s a vast wall of candy in every shape and size imaginable. You no longer have a choice just between different candies – oh no! Now each candy has multiple choices within itself. M&M’s, peanut M&M’s, caramel M&M’s, peanut butter M&M’s, coffee nut M&M’s, strawberry nut M&M’s. Then you have the Hershey’s family – Hershey’s milk chocolate, Hershey’s w/ almonds, Hershey’s cookies & cream, Hershey’s cookies & mint and now they even have Hershey’s layers in two flavors. And there’s my favorite – Reese’s. Reese’s Pieces, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Reese’s sticks, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups filled with Reese’s Pieces…and the list goes on.
There’s sweet melt in your mouth chocolate, the crunch of nuts, the smooth silkiness of peanut butter, the savory taste of potato chips, the crunch of the chips, the fizzy liquid gold disguised as soda. And there you are – faced with the slowest moving checkout lane ever! Time seems to stand still. The “goodies” surrounding you seem to close in on you. Your stomach rumbles in hunger. Your mouth waters. You stare longingly at the many decisions as your taste buds dance in anticipation. And you have to say NO!
Did I remain strong? Yes I did. Did I fall prey to these cleverly placed temptations? No I didn’t. I resisted. I won another battle. I’m the reigning champ! Let’s just hope next time I remain as dedicated as this time!
Are you driven by motivation or determination? At first you may think they are one in the same. Or you may think they both drive you in the same way. Perhaps you think it doesn’t really matter which one drives you as long as it does. Do you think along these lines? I sure did. Let’s take a closer look.
Motivation is defined as: “the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way”. Another way to define it is: “the general desire or willingness of someone to do something”.
Determination is defined as: “firmness of purpose; resoluteness”.
Do you get it now? Motivation drives you. It’s the reason why you do what you do. It’s not the action itself. But it’s determination that keeps you going and puts that motivation into action. See, all the motivation in the world will not change a thing. If you don’t follow through, if you don’t act on it, then that motivation will not change a thing. I learned that the hard way today. But it was a lesson worth learning.
This past weekend, I slacked off – BIG TIME. I went back to eating what I want, drinking soda instead of water and unsweetened tea, and didn’t work out. And I felt miserable in more ways than one. I realized that wasn’t what I wanted. What I really wanted was change. What I wanted was to feel good again and not aching everywhere. What I wanted was for the outside of my body to match what I feel like on the inside. I convinced myself that because I took a few days to “get my head straight” that I was ready to get back on the wagon and hit it hard!
I’ve gotten back on track with eating, and I’ve been working out. I even had a friend join me (working out is so much easier when you don’t have to do it alone!). I went in to the gym today determined that there would be no more whining, or complaining, and I’d be hitting it 100% full throttle from beginning to end. As time and the workout went on, I felt a struggle within. It only intensified as the workout went on.
What I didn’t understand was why, if I had so much motivation going into this workout, was I having such a difficult time? Why did I feel like I did every other time? Why was I ready to slack off and not put forth the full 100%?
At the end of the workout, a new challenge came up. Planks. Not a big deal for some. I have done(ish) by myself. But this was doing it in front of someone knowing I’m not that great. After a challenge of fighting through the rest of the workout, I wasn’t ready mentally or physically (or so I thought). With gentle prodding I was encouraged to try. The more encouragement from outside, the more the struggle inside. And then I reached it – my breaking point. It was fight or flight time. Every ounce of my being wanted to run. I felt the tears building inside. I was telling myself I couldn’t do this. I was ready to give up. I felt weak. I felt discouraged. I felt worthless. I felt like I would never succeed. I felt I would never beat this. Yet, when push came to shove – I set my feet, I planted my arms and up I went into a plank. I held it for a bit. Then down I went. But when this friend said one more – I followed through with a lot less about it this time and acted a lot quicker.
After the workout I started to beat myself up for the struggle, the wanting to quit, wanting to cry – the whole range of emotions. I still didn’t understand why this all happened. I had the motivation. What went wrong? I lead with motivation, not determination. But in the end, I found it.
I wish I could say it was a once and done moment, but it’s not. There will be more moments like this. There will be more struggles to face. There will be more moments of doubt, and more fight or flight challenges. This was just the first of many hurdles to come. But guess what? I know I cleared that first hurdle. Which means I can clear others that come my way. I just have to stay determined with each hurdle I face!
So this is where I get real. This is where I lay it all out there. My goals when starting this blog were: 1. Hope I reach someone going through the same thing as me so that they know they’re not alone. There are those out there who understand. 2. Hope I can shed some light to those who have never gone through this so that they may even in the smallest way understand what someone like me goes through on this journey. So here’s a glimpse into the me in this step of my journey (keep in mind as I venture through this journey there will be new insights at each step). The following are in no certain order.
- I am excited. I’m ready to see what will come next. I’m seeing progress. I hope to see more – much more!
- I am still doubtful. Even though I see progress, I have failed so many times before. The negativity tries to hold me back by trying to show me I will fail again and trying to convince me not to believe it can happen.
- I already notice changes. Some movements are easier now. I have more energy. I am more willing to get up and move around and do things. I want to be moving more. I walk a little taller and a little quicker, with more purpose.
- I don’t feel “fat”. I never have. That’s the clincher. Pictures show it. Some movements have made it obvious. But I honestly have never felt fat. Seeing a picture of myself never matches what I feel like. It’s like a slap in the face every time.
- I have a constant battle in my mind. The negativity often tries to take over. It tries to convince me I am not worth it and will fail – regarding working out, eating right, having confidence in myself, etc.
- I am scared. As excited as I am to be on this journey – I am scared as well. I am afraid I will fail. I’m afraid I’m not gonna look good when I lose a lot of weight (look older, excess skin, etc.). I’m afraid of the confidence going to my head. I’m afraid of the positive attention becoming my new addiction.
These are just a few things in my mind at any given time. This journey is NOT easy. Don’t let anyone tell you it is. You need will power. You need determination. You need drive. You have to be ready to change your exercise level, your eating habits, and perhaps most of all, your mind. You need to be ready for the challenges you will face. You need a support system. You need to rely on yourself to lift you up, not constantly turning to others to do that for you. You need to find the dig deep within yourself, not letting high-fives or positive compliments or a workout buddy to keep pushing you on. The push needs to come within for you to truly change. This road will not be easy. It’s not meant to be. It’s meant to be life-changing. If you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re likely to lose motivation. You’re likely to give up. You’re likely to let distractions steer you from your plan. But you can do it!
That dreaded 4-letter word. (No, not that one!) Fear. We have all heard the word. We all know what it means. But do we realize how crippling it is? This word can either rule you or motivate you. What role do you let it play in your life?
Starting on this new journey was scary. Opening myself up to everyone was difficult. Letting go of habits I’ve had for years to embrace new ones is not easy. I’m not that far in and I have already wanted to give up several times. And that is where the road splits.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. How many times have you heard that? Too many to count I would imagine. Easy to say, hard to do. I’m not just making a small change here, I am doing a 180 – or at least trying to. After all the journey starts w/ the first step, right? (Yes, I know – we’ve all heard that a few times as well!) If I am going to succeed in my journey, I have to change eating habits. I have had the same eating habits for as long as I can remember. Oh sure, I have had those momentary diets – and some actually worked – but as soon as you fall back into your old habits, you end up right back where you started. I have had to change my activity level. This is hard to admit out loud (or in writing as the case may be) but I am not exactly an active person. I realize some of you are not shocked by this realization but its something I had to face. Therefore, another change I have to make. This whole journey is almost nothing but change. And with that, at least in my case, comes fear. And with that fear are two main areas.
- Fear of Failing Others – There is a lot on the line here. Have you ever watched a professional sporting event, or one of those reality competitions, etc. and you see someone competing and they state how they can’t fail because there are so many people out there counting on them? I never understood that until now. In previous attempts at losing weight I never really shared it with too many people. I may have told some of my immediate family. I may have told a best friend or two. I may have shared with a close co-worker. But I never announced it to all who know me and many who don’t. By sharing this blog I am basically telling the world my intentions. And that is to lose weight, get fit, change my eating habits, and improve my health. That’s quite a bit to take on. And I have everyone reading this and everyone who knows me and knows of my intentions to hold me accountable. If I fail…if I fall back into my old habits…if I give up…I fail everyone who knows I am trying to lose weight and improve myself and my health. If that happens I will feel like I let everyone down. Most who know me will tell me no I didn’t let them down. Most will say I tried and that alone is great. Most will say they still love and care about me anyway no matter what size I am. And while that is likely true, I will still carry the burden of letting everyone down. I will still feel responsible for not holding myself to it. And that brings us to the 2nd point….
- Fear of Failing Myself – In the end if I lose this battle the only one I fail is myself. Am I proud of the attempt? Yes. Am I proud of myself for dedicating myself fully this time instead of trying the latest passing fad? Yes. Am I constantly encouraging myself trying to keep myself going? Yes. Are there days I feel I have failed? Too often. I can let the fear grip me and overtake me until I give in. I can let the voice of fear penetrate my thoughts until it takes over. I can let the wave of fear wash over me until I feel there is no hope as I suffocate beneath its weight. But what do I gain by giving in and giving up? How do I help myself if like every other time I decide it is too hard and I don’t want to try anymore? What changes will I see if I cave and quit? Nothing of course! If I am going to succeed, I have to let the fear motivate me. I have to face it, confront it, and guide it instead of letting it guide me.
The bottom line is this – you either conquer fear, or it conquers you. Each day I am faced with some type of fear. It may be fear of being the “fat” one at the gym. It may be the fear of looking stupid if I don’t have a plan on what I will be doing at the gym. It may be the fear of eating too much or eating the wrong thing. It may be the fear of going too far and becoming obsessed with trying to eat right and workout. It may be the fear of letting others down or failing myself. But each day I choose to rise above it. Each day I choose to face and confront it. Each day I make the choice to rise, not run!