Above my desk, hanging from ribbons, are two bronze medals that are mine. One is a medal for a woman’s triathlon and the other is for a marathon that I completed with a group of supportive friends. The medals hang there to remind me that with perseverance, commitment to my goals, and hard work I can do whatever I set out to do. The Olympics these last few weeks have been a fresh reminder of how difficult it can be to get us where we need to be.
Sometimes it seems like it’s just too dang much work.
Anyone that knows me can tell you that I am no athlete. A high school accident left me with a serious back injury that I contend with every day. I am asthmatic and have other health issues to go along with that. I am not one of the blessed ones who were gifted with natural thinness. I battled the weight monster down to the tune of 50 pounds off and have to fight each pound that tries to creep its way back on. I have all the built in excuses at my fingertips to take a magazine and some Bon bons and head over to the comfy sofa and gain another hundred pounds if I wanted to….
But there are days…oh there are the days. And we all have them. It doesn’t take a serious anything to make us all want to pull the covers over our heads and not want to face the day. Not want to keep our commitments and promises and cross off the things on our TO DO list. But on all but the very worst, barring the stomach flu perhaps, we trudge out of bed and at least cross of the things that we promised to do for everyone else.
But wait…whispers a tiny voice in the back of our heads. Weren’t you going to start a new running program today? (Or new diet, new eating plan, new bike, or whatever you promised yourself)
Yes, you tell yourself defeated, but I’m too tired, I’ll start tomorrow…or maybe Monday.
I am very familiar with this conversation. I have had it with myself off and on all of my life.
So…how was I able to complete a triathlon (considering I could barely swim before I started training) and finish a 26.2 mile marathon?
I realized that every time I was telling myself “maybe tomorrow” that I was punching holes in my own self esteem that I couldn’t fill back up. I was making promises to myself that I wasn’t keeping and letting myself down. I tried to imagine the looks on my kids faces if I did that to them over and over, again day after day, month after month and what it would eventually do to their faith and trust in me. It would become as eroded as a sandcastle on a beach. Swept away with nothing to show for it. My word would be nothing.
And it had become true. When I would say “Monday I’ll start a diet” my subconscious didn’t believe it long enough to make it til lunch before the first cookie had slipped down the chute without permission. When I said “I’m going to run a mile every day” The first few steps that winded me I slowed down, turned around and went back in. I was a wimp.
Here’s the funny thing. My word was good for everyone else. I had integrity to others. Just not myself. I had no PERSONAL integrity. I just wasn’t that important. After twenty something years of being a mother, a daughter and for a large part of that – a wife, my needs had faded into the old paint.
I had to make a commitment to treat myself with the same integrity that I treated others with and settle for NOTHING LESS. I had to hold myself accountable.
And this above all unto thine own self be true
and it shall follow as the day the night-
thou canst not then be false to any man
I didn’t start by saying “By golly, I need some Personal Integrity. I think I’ll create a Big Hairy Bodacious Goal and run a Marathon.” My subconscious would have laughed me out of town and created an ulcer in defense. (My subconscious thinks it’s smarter than me.) I had to be more subtle about it. I needed a stealth plan. So instead I said,”This week I am going to get up every day and run for 10 minutes and put a gold star on the calendar.” Ten minutes wasn’t so bad and I looked forward to putting that star on there. By the third day those stars were lining up nicely and so when I was getting rather tired, the idea of have a blank space where that star should be didn’t sound so good. Up I got. Out I went to run. I ran for stars. It didn’t take much to slowly increase the time.
Soon I realized I wasn’t running for stars anymore. I don’t even remember when I realized that I had stopped putting the stars on the calendar and had started looking forward to running and felt the pride of doing something special for myself. The feeling of knowing I was keeping my word.
That confidence blossomed and expanded until it grew into the amazing experiences that I wouldn’t trade for a lifetime.
Watching the Olympics has reminded me that once again I have been allowing a few other goals to stand in the way of my physical exercise. For some people this is a luxury. For me, it’s a necessity and something I can’t stray too far away from if I want to maintain my health. So…back to getting out my stars…and making some new goals.
How about you? What goals and promises are you working on for yourself these days? How will you hold yourself accountable?
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