Too many times we are overwhelmed with uncertainty and chaos, believing that the whirlwind will never change. We begin to consider that our lives are the best they will ever be and no amount of wishing will change that. Yet we hold onto those wishes; because in them, we find small glimmers of hope and optimism that get lost in our every day lives. The burden of making it through one more day becomes our only goal. We justify to ourselves that we shouldn’t want something more or something different and that keeping our mouths shut and silencing our dreams are the easiest ways to get through this existence called life. Sounds pretty gloomy, doesn’t it?
I painted the above picture for a reason…to see if you would identify with it in some way. Chances are, we all can. At least to some degree. That in itself reminds us that we are not alone. That our joys and our need to venture are very similar and allow us to identify with more people than we think. And admitting that we feel this want to chase our dream is the first step to changing everything.
This past Friday morning, I gave a speech to about 30 women where I gave them several strategies to starting anew and how to keep moving forward, they found one story I told to be quite inspiring. Most women view their worth to be reflective of their appearance based on society’s adoration of weight, size, and other ways to classify “beauty”, women are naturally hesitant to admit when they see flaws in themselves that others never see. It has been some time since I shared this story here and touching on it a bit this past week made me think that it just might be worth retelling again.
I shared the steps (yes, I took more than one) on how I ran myself 30 pounds lighter. And although the physical part of running is not the most difficult, it is necessary to trick your mind so that you can run farther. Even faster, if that is one of your goals. Life is like that too — you have to trick it every once in a while. If you don’t, you will stop long before you really need to stop. Believe me, I know.
One of the very first steps we have to take before we go anywhere is that we have to admit where we are now. Yep…this is where most of you run and hide. I get it. I did that too. For a long time. But before I became a real “runner”, I decided that I was tired of running away from who I was and who I wanted to be. There seemed to be this constant gap that I never could seem to close completely, let alone just make smaller. I was in a constant state of paradox — wanting something to be different, while having no idea of where to start. Constant frustration, lack of motivation, and a never-ending pile of disappointments were all I could claim for mere attempts (let’s call them, half-assed attempts) at changing my weight. Over the course of 20 years, with little to no regular exercise, I began to weigh more than I ever had and the spiral I was in kept its grip and I felt like there was no way out. Do you know what I am talking about? Maybe you don’t struggle with weight, but maybe you have another conflict that makes you feel less of a person. But chances are, we can all find something we wish we were better or at want to improve ourselves in some way.
Don’t believe me? Here is what I looked like in the fall of 2009 as we moved our oldest son to college…
I was wearing a size 12-14 pants and large shirts. Some larges were not even big enough. That may not seem very big to you, but in high school, I weighed 110 pounds and was turned away when I wanted to give blood. I packed on more muscle in college when I lifted weights and had three babies within five and half years of each other. But that was no excuse and my oldest was now 20 years old…a far cry from who I used to be. Although my giving heart and loving soul may have magnified with the extra pounds I was now carrying, I wanted to look better and feel better about myself, knowing that my inside needed to match my outside.
In the spring of 2010, I was asked by someone who I did not know very well what ONE thing I would change about myself, and I immediately said weight. My honesty with someone I hardly knew surprises me even to this day. As the next two questions seemed to fly at me with lightening speed, I had admitted that I wanted to lose 20 pounds in a matter of six months, just by running two days a week at 5am. So with my new friend at my side, we set on a journey that would take us (and continues to take us) more than ONE step and beyond.
Having always been pretty athletic since I was little, I did not think running would be that difficult. But it wasn’t my legs that wanted to quit first. It was my heart. You see, I didn’t want to fail once again and have this dismiss outlook once again. But I stuck it out and not only surprised my partner, but myself as well. After six weeks, I ran four more days in addition to the ones my friend was with me, and we gradually increased our route from two miles to five miles every day. I remember my husband asking me why I was going to run on a day that my friend would not be there and I told him, “I can’t run for her…I have to run for me.” Running gave me freedom and confidence. It restored my belief in who I wanted to be and slowly I began to see progress.
My original goal was to lose 20 pounds in six month and after three months, I had lost 10 pounds and I committed to raising the stakes with a goal of losing an extra 20 pounds with my original due date. I worked harder when she wasn’t with me, because I could push myself and get in my own head. The lack of motivation was no longer an issue. Instead of feeling frustration, I felt empowered. I began to believe in the possible and was not going to allow myself another disappointment. Maybe having her there made me more accountable, but I also believe that because she believed in me, I was heading towards success.
During the last three months, I began to see significant appearance changes with my body, especially in my face and stomach. One friend who hadn’t seen me in a while said I looked “different” to her, but she could not put her finger on what it was at first. Then she realized that I had lost weight and congratulated me on my success. Many co-workers also noticed how baggy my clothes were looking and began working out on their own as well. Never did I think that doing something for myself would inspire others to find the courage to do the same.
Here are the 12 steps to take to get you started on any goal, but especially if it comes to running:
Load up your iPod with some good tunes — the theme from “Rocky” is an all-time favorite
Get some good running shoes. They should last about 300-500 miles. If you think about it, I was running about 100 miles a month
Go at the same time. Being consistent is KEY. Your mind and body will get used to the choice you make and it will become a habit
Stick to the same route. It makes you familiar with the surroundings and five miles doesn’t really feel like five miles
If you can’t run, jog. If you can’t jog, walk. But do something. MOVE! (Yes, dancing and skipping count too!)
Start at certain landmarks. For example, if you start at the white mailbox and finish at the last driveway on that street, then keep to it. Don’t quit until you reach that last driveway.
When you want to quit, don’t. Tell yourself, “Just 10 more steps!” over and over until you reach your mark. Hopefully, you know how to count to 10…my friend doesn’t. =)
Using the example in #6, start at a landmark before the white mailbox and still finish at the last driveway at the end of the street. You will have forgotten where you started and your mind is already conditioned to stopping at the last driveway.
NEVER ask someone how long it took them to run their first mile….for several reasons.
You and I run at different paces so comparing them is futile. Comparing us to one another is a waste of time.
If I tell you that it took me a month to run my first mile (without stopping), then you will already have a preconceived notion that you will not be able to or should not be able to run your first mile before then. (see #1 above, if questions.)
Your mind will want to quit long before your body will need to — KEEP GOING!
I know it hurts…I know you hate me right now…you will thank me later.
Don’t get on the scale — EVER! The one day you think it should read a certain number is going to be the day that could set you back. Notice how your clothes feel and listen to the compliments that are bound to come your way.
I cannot guarantee you the same results I had, but I will tell you that I still ate what I wanted to…because I was running five miles a day, six days a week. Running my drug and I needed to have it as much as possible. I am still addicted, although my routine has changed a little since then. Watching the sunrise is no longer something I take for granted but a beautiful reminder of the life I have and the journey I am on as I seek to always be my best self. Dieting was never going to work for me. I love food and I love a variety of food and restricting certain things would not help in my overall betterment of body and soul.
My weight loss was captured in a mere six month period and who I became along the way was worth more than the success of achieving my goal; as my personal growth have benefited me in ways I never thought possible. In the physical sense I lost. But in the spiritual sense I gained freedom, sense of sense, and found my passion along the way. Doors that I never knew existed began to appear and my essence was fueled by curiosity, imagination, and a dream I never knew I had. Falling in love with life and trusting my heart had become not just something to believe in, but an absolute way of awareness.
Life is about to change for you…
Although the 12 steps I have listed above were ones that I used to keep me focused on my running, use them to apply to any steps you want to take to change your life. I am not going to lie to you and tell you it will be easy. However, I will tell you that once you make this shift, you will never go back to who you once were. You have seen all that you can be and nothing less will satisfy the hunger you feel for total happiness.
Take one step at a time. Appreciate how that one steps frees you to take another. Every once in a while, take a look behind you to be proud of how far you have come. Life is not a competition…the person who gets to the end first does not win. Always look for chances that come your way and say “yes” to more things than you turn down. Smile more. Give unconditionally. Love all in. Listen to your heart and trust it. ONE step…ONE thought…ONE. Let the momentum carry you into the second step and so on, believing for every moment that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©