Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It Sucks To Be You, Right?

I'll be honest. Most days, it's easy to be me. I'm awesome. I have a cool job I really enjoy, I've had my amazing husband in my life for sixteen years, I'm surrounded by great friends, I have a fantastic extended family, and I have time and the financial ability to travel from time to time and experience races and other athletic events across the country. I have also dropped a lot of weight, gotten myself into shape, and changed myself from a couch potato to a three-time marathoner.

What's not to love, right? I must spend my days smiling from ear to ear because everything in my life is absolutely perfect. I am free to work out every day, I have the time to shop for and prepare healthy meals, and I have fitness buddies always ready to keep me motivated.  It seems perfect, doesn't it? All rainbows and sunshine.

Is that what you're thinking? Compared to your life, I have it easy, right? You have a job that makes you crazy. Or maybe you don't have a job at all and being unemployed is stressing you out. And free time? Pfft, as if. Between the kids and the chores and the cleaning and cooking and trying to take care of everyone else, you're lucky to have a moment to yourself. You don't have the money to buy new workout clothes or sign up for a gym or even buy workout DVDs. You can't afford to sign up for races, so you have nothing to train for and your motivation lags. Your eating is out of control because you can't afford to prepare multiple meals and your family won't eat healthy meals.

The list of obstacles is endless, and we haven't even talked about how you feel like working out is a waste of time since you won't stick with it, anyway, and everyone else sees results but your weight isn't changing. And no one notices that you're trying as hard as you can and you're doing your best and is it too much to ask that just one person takes the time to encourage you?!

Face it, the world is full of success stories, and you aren't one of them. You're still struggling to lose weight, or get to the gym regularly, or stop eating junk food, and this is the hundredth time you've tried to change your life but really, what's the point?

No, seriously. Stop. Enough with the browbeating and attacking yourself and focusing on all the things you don't have and can't do and will never be. This may come as a surprise to you, but worrying doesn't burn calories and beating yourself up isn't cardio. So why are you expending energy on things that don't do anything to make you feel better?

Yes, I get it. Your day-to-day life is clearly not designed to make it easy for you to focus on your health and physical fitness. You're pulled in every direction and everyone seems to need something from you. Well guess what? That is never going to change. The world will always be full of demands on your time. You need to start making your own demands.

And healthy eating is hard to do. Your co-workers keep bringing junk food to the office and insisting that you "... just try a little." Your family complains that they don't like the new things you cook and they just want things to be like they were. Your friends are upset that you aren't joining them for drinks and dinners and get-togethers, anymore. But it is you who decides what you are going to eat and how much of it, not your co-workers or family or friends.

So you don't have a support system. No one you know wants to run with you, or even go for walks, and you don't know a single person at the gym. There is no one to help you stay motivated. Okay, fine. But when all is said and done, it's up to you to workout. Having others with you can make it more fun, sure, but not having someone with you is no excuse for not doing it.

And the most challenging obstacle of all... your own heart and mind. Maybe you have already tried hundreds of times to lose weight. And maybe the only thing you hear from other people is criticism and disbelief. If they believe that *this time* is just one more failure waiting to happen, fine. Let them think that. It doesn't make it true. Your opinion is the only thing that matters. And your belief in yourself is all you need to succeed.

If it sounds like I am writing from experience, it's because I am. I have overcome all of these obstacles and more. I have been too busy to work out, too tired to cook, and too depressed to take care of myself. And since I'm being honest, I will admit that I still feel these things from time to time. But I have also been too stubborn to quit, too confident to fail, and too proud of myself to feel bad.

I am living proof that a person can change their life. And I'm also an example of someone who continues to have doubts, to struggle, and to feel like my life is out of control. But it's in those moments that I step back, remember how far I've come, and recommit myself to the things I really want - to be healthy, fit and confident.

Still think it sucks to be you? Okay, maybe some days it does. But if you have ten minutes to sit around and complain, you have ten minutes to take a walk. If you have the time to call a friend and grumble, you have time to prepare a healthy meal. And if you can spend hours watching TV, you can spend an hour watching the TV at the gym while you ride the bike, walk the stair climber, or run the treadmill.

Life is about choices. What choice are YOU going to make to get what you want? I chose to get up this morning at 4:30, to make sure that I had plenty of time at the gym to run a 5k, strength train, and get a fifteen minute cool down ride on the exercise bike. And that choice means that I will feel awesome all day long.

Post run and strength training, on my way to the bike.

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