So you have Shay-lon Moss over at Staying healthy isnt a crime-Fitness is a lifestyle choice for this. Just kidding….or am I? Seriously she has a great blog and I enjoy our banter back and forth. Anyway, she proposed a few post topics for me. I don’t know why; I have no education about anything fitness-related and I’m a back-of-the-pack runner at best. Maybe it’s because I’m part of that growing demographic: you know the approaching middle-age just getting into a serious fitness program type of demographic.
One of the things she asked was to write a little something for beginning runners. I thought about this (while I was running of course) not quite sure what to say. So I figured I would break it down a bit. And honestly, this stuff could apply to any kind of fitness regime.
First things first: What’s your motivation?
And be honest about it. You can lie to me, you can lie to your friends, you can lie to your family. The one person you are not allowed to lie to is yourself. Do you want to run a marathon? Great. Lose 50 lbs? Awesome. Get to know that cutie over in accounting who is organizing a fund-raising running group? Alrighty.
Every reason is a valid reason as long as it’s the truth. If you want to run a marathon and that’s it and have no intention of lacing your runners up after you cross the finish line, that is completely acceptable and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. I know that kind of flies in the face of conventional wisdom but here’s why I say that: you will learn more about yourself from the training and changes will occur that may stick. You may love how you feel and decide to keep it up because it seems like so many things are possible. Or not. But if you look at massive lifestyle overhauls, it can seem overwhelming so just get that marathon out of the way and see where you go from there.
Look at what the end goal is and set a reasonable expectation for how long it will take to achieve it. Then add more time to allow for the inevitable hiccups that life will throw at you. It’s no different than planning any other destination so create your own road map.
If you’re looking at a total revamp of your lifestyle, take a really good long hard look at all aspects of it. An honest look. If you’re living on drive-thru food, don’t expect to start eating all organic for every single meal because that is setting yourself up for failure. Maybe start with cooking one meal at home per day and do that for a week. Then when that is easy, add another home-cooked meal.
If you can’t walk to the mailbox without huffing and puffing, then the odds of crushing a marathon in six months is a bit unrealistic. But if the goal isn’t to crush it, and you just want to cover the distance, as long there aren’t any factors to interfere with that, then go for it.
It’s amazing that people recognize that they need to change how they’re living but I think the tendency is to do WAY too much too soon. It gets overwhelming, they get discouraged, and they quit.
I say take baby steps. If you’re looking to reverse years of bad habits don’t expect it to all change in a month. It’s better to ease into it for the long haul than to be right back where you started in a few weeks. So GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION. I could throw all kinds of metaphors about journeys starting with a single step and the process and all that. In the end, you are the one responsible for you so as long as you get to where you’re going, you did it.
The Cold Hard Truth
All of that above is the kind of expected stuff to say. Now here is me laying it out trying to type as quickly as I can talk:
I couldn’t give two shits as to why you are where you are in your life right now. It doesn’t matter because for some reason you want to make a change and THAT is the important thing. If you’re not happy, ask yourself why you’re not happy and DO WHAT WILL CHANGE THAT.
If you think that losing 50 lbs will make you happy, then what steps have you taken to do that? If you want to run a marathon, have you looked at training programs or running groups? Do you even know the cutie in accounting’s name?
You have physical or medical issues? So do other people so what did they do that you didn’t? Mental health issues? Same thing. And there is a well-documented correlation between exercise and mental health issues which is ever more reason to get out there. Family and work? Yes that can be difficult to work around but there are ways if you truly want to make it happen.
Take ownership of your own success or your own failure. It took however long to get to where you are so don’t expect a magic wand to wave and everything will be good. Sorry sweetheart, things just don’t work that way. You will have to work for it. Go into it knowing that. Find what will help you get moving when the couch and Netflix are calling. Use social media for more than elevating some useless example of humanity and find inspiration. Find a role model. There are people to push you and people to tell you that it’s alright to take an easy day once in a while. There is so much positivity out there if you’re willing to tap into it. There are so many resources for whatever you want to know that you can achieve any goal. OK maybe not every goal. I mean, if you’re hitting 50 the likelihood of making the Olympics are probably a bit slim. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still put the effort into it.
Hell if you need a kick in the rump let me know and I’ll lace up some digital shoes and deliver one. If you’re in need of something a bit less gruff, I can do that too because I want to hear your successes. I want to see a post saying “I never thought I could do it but I’m ran my first marathon today” and I’ll be sending a YAY cheer as soon as I read it.
And a funny thing might happen: you’ll become someone else’s inspiration because they will look at you and say “I remember when they started and look at them now” or “I never thought they could so that” or “If they can do it, then so can I”.
I’ve seen so people put limits on themselves and it frustrates the hell out of me. I hear “I could never do that” way too often. I look at them and ask “Why not?” and all I get are dumbfounded stares because they have no concept of what they are truly capable of accomplishing
I realize that conforming to the herd is part of a survival tactic that has worked well for many species since standing out makes you a target. Fuck evolution. Give any perceived detractors a full-arm middle finger as you run by them. Or as you eat that amazing kale and chicken salad with toasted pecans and dried cranberries. But don’t do that to the cutie in accounting since that may backfire a bit.
The world is there for you and you CAN be as great as you deserve to be.