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…”
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!
For those of you that don’t know, the gym is not the friend of someone who is overweight. Shocking, I know! There is a very important reason for this. And it all leads back to comfort! But we can break it down further than that.
- The Stares. When you are overweight it can be scary going to the gym. Being large, rounded, pleasantly plumb, horizontally challenged (however you like to put it) when you walk into a gym you expect all eyes to be on you. Even if they aren’t you can still feel them on you. It is all in your head but it sure seems real. The irony of it is my eyes usually end up on everyone else expecting their eyes to be looking at me. So I guess that completely flips things, doesn’t it? By feeling like I’m the one being gawked at, I in turn end up being the gawker. Well…..that’s not entirely accurate. It’s more like scanning. I am just scanning the area to see if anyone is looking at me. I expect them to be looking at me in disgust, in judgement, in pity, in disbelief. Yet honestly, the looks aren’t there. The funny thing about gyms is if people are there it is usually for a purpose. Everyone is there for a reason and they are focused on what they are doing. Not on you. Whew! One challenge down.
- Fear of Looking Stupid! Overweight and regular gym attendance just don’t seem to go together. Generally speaking many people who are overweight don’t have much gym experience. Gyms have a lot of equipment. If you’re not familiar with it, then you can be overwhelmed! Worse yet, you already feel like everyone is staring at you and now you’re about to attempt to use gym equipment and you have no clue what you are doing. Sure – that sounds like a party waiting to happen! Well, entertainment anyway for everyone else there. The good news? Let’s refer back to what we found out in point #1 – everyone is involved in what they are doing. They likely won’t even notice your first attempt. In addition, thankfully, gyms have personal trainers and staff who know the equipment and are there to help you. I know, I know….refer back to point #1. You think they are staring and judging as well. This is their job though. They are there to help. They help people of all shapes and sizes. Why would you be any different? Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Fear of How You Look Exercising! We’ve all heard the “fat” people cliches….it felt like an earthquake when they ran; the fat was rippling like waves on the ocean; etc. So when you want to put in a little more effort the fear can grip you like you gripped that last doughnut you ate! If you run on the treadmill it will sound like a herd of elephants and those around you will have to hold on for dear life to keep from being bounced off of theirs. Your fat is going to flap around like a flag blowing in the wind. Guess what folks – refer back to point #1….everyone is too busy w/ what they are doing to notice you.
The truth of it is going to the gym can be very frightening for someone like me! Take today for instance. I went to the gym during my lunch. I saw several familiar faces that are usually there around the same time. Most there were women (and they were kicking butt might I add!). I knew those that were there would not pass judgement upon me. I felt safe. Then I went back after work and everything changed. This time there was only 1 other female (not overweight by the way – very toned) and several men with large muscles and well built (not the usual familiar faces). They were in the free weight area and I was on the treadmill. And I was intimidated. I felt unworthy to be there. I felt like I didn’t belong. I felt out of place. I was ready to be done and leave as quickly as possible. But if I gave up and left the only person I hurt is me. If I give in to my fear, I am the one who loses. I had to hush the voices in my head – the ones who have been with me most of my life – and realize I was the one making myself feel that way. It wasn’t them that was looking down on me and insulting me. No, I was doing that to myself! That can be hard to face. The bullies aren’t always on the outside. They are often on the inside as well.
Yes, going to the gym can be very frightening. But it can also be worth it. You see, every step I take on the treadmill, every weight I lift, every moment of my effort at the gym is worth it because I am making progress. Progress I have never made before. Progress I could be missing out on. Is it scary? Yes! Is it worth it? Yes! I leave feeling better, more energized, and accomplished. When I complete a workout and I leave for once the bullies in my head are silenced. They are silenced by the pride I feel for having done this. To gym, or not to gym. That is the question. And for me the answer is simple – hi ho, hi ho, it’s to the gym I go…..