Have you ever noticed the participants and the self-care stations along the route of a “fun run”? They are clearly there with the intention of crossing the finish line. But “fun runs” bask in a light air of smiles, enjoyment, camaraderie, and good cheer. The priority for the majority is about participation and completion, rather than the finish line rankings. And self-care stations, they get a lot more business.
Is your weight loss endeavor a “fun run”?
Or a race? Who are you racing against? And why?
Time-outs at self-care stations are investments with BIG returns
Racing comes at the cost of your self-care and having fun
You don’t lose time by hitting your pause button to check-in with yourself. Taking time-outs to assess and make adjustments actually increases the odds of a fun permanent outcome because it creates the space required for you to personalize your path to your unique needs. Hit your pause button. Check into your self-care station as regularly as a fun runner stops to hydrate.
Pause stations give more back than the time they take
I am not a big marathon fan. Not because I have any personal experience, but because my mom’s knees have never been the same since she trained and ran the Long Beach marathon when I was a kid. But I have a friend who runs a marathon or two, each year – his knees must be pretty good. One day while he was reminiscing about his marathons I understood that the exhilaration of his crossing the finish line carried his heart and was proof positive of what he could do alone, which fed his soul. I saw him shortly after one of his marathons and expected to see an ear to ear sparkling perma-grin lighting up the room, but by the look of his body language it was clear his recent marathon didn’t go as expected. When I reached him he sheepishly began to share. He was in his typical rhythm and groove for the first 13 miles, then slowly began feeling a bit “off”, in an unfamiliar way. He blew off the warning signs and decided to push through whatever was happening, after all he had finished marathons in the past, he could finish this one too. In essence, all he saw and wanted was the exhilaration of crossing the finish line with the possibility of a better time or ranking. Then shortly after passing the 17th mile he began to fade out, like a device with dying batteries. His body weebled and wobbled like a man who had had more than his fair share at a raging cocktail event. His vision blurred as his universe began to spin. Suddenly he had people holding him up on either side as they escorted him to the self-care station volunteers. As luck would have it one of the volunteers had first-hand experience with exactly what she saw happening to my friend – sodium deficiency. He finished the marathon laying down on a cot for the time it took his body to take in the sodium and find some equilibrium, but he didn’t cross the finish line. What flabbergasted him most was it took his body twice the time to recover from not finishing this marathon than all the others he had completed!
Not taking time-outs is costly
Investing only in the finish line as you imagine it needs to be
makes you refuse the truth of the present moment
In the weeks that followed, thanks to his frustration, he received some life changing insights and he was all too eager to share them with my listening ear:
✦ Pushing through clear warning signs because all the eggs are in the basket at the finish line, will land you with bigger problems faster.
✦ Regular self-care, even when there doesn’t appear to be a need for it, ensures more bullets are dodged than are visible.
✦ In a sour grapes like style he asked himself “Why am I running marathons anyways?”, but when his tunnel vision opened up to see the big picture, he realized this perceived “failure” would carry his heart and feed his soul in more powerful ways than all the other marathons combined.
Life in America moves too fast in my opinion, and people typically only stop to look when events go very wrong. Learn to hit your pause button when things are GOOD. This is a two part article to walk you through a productive pause using four simple questions, two questions per article. Each question merits ample time and space to reveal the valuable insights that often remain hidden or lost in the shuffle.
When you are certain there are no more insights, more will arrive
Good questions deserve an open door policy for answers
1. How far have you come since you started?
You have a superb eye for seeing what isn’t, but to answer this question you need to look for what is.
First things first. The number of pounds on the scale is NOT the true distance traveled, it is simply a number. A person who is now eating whole honest foods, drinking more water, bringing lunch to work, sleeping more, listening to their body, honoring what their body is indicating, placing healthy snacks in strategic locations, or is enthusiastic about their new lifestyle… has traveled to another planet. The person who has bullied 15 pounds off their body at record speed, has not.
You can bully pounds off your body,
but if there is no foundation to support the weight loss,
then the pounds will return with a few extra
Easy, comfortable permanent weight loss happens when there is a solid new lifestyle foundation, and your foundation needs to be concrete on bedrock.
Look for all the changes you have made. You have made a lot of changes already and your job is to start a list and pinpoint all of them. Every seemingly little thing is IMPORTANT so put it on paper. You need to know how far you have come and making this list will help you see the bigger picture. Are you cooking differently? Only drinking water? Do you know the difference between when you are hungry versus tired? More upbeat and happier? Have you already created new habits? Are you paying closer attention to the quality, taste and aromas of food now? Has your body image changed? Does your internet activity reflect your new life? Does your grocery cart at check-out look entirely different? Are you moving more and enjoying it? Does your body function better and hurt less? You are the only one who knows all that has changed – write it all down.
Don’t measure the distance traveled by perceived success. The distance traveled is everything you have done. Thomas Jefferson understood his experiences were information, they were not failures, and as a result we now have the light bulb. If you have tried 10 different forms of exercise in search of thee “ONE” that genuinely speaks to your childlike enthusiasm and wanting, but have yet to figure out what that is, then you HAVE traveled! You have gone farther than the person who bit the bullet to knuckle down and grind out an exercise routine they resent and hate.
Healthy lifestyle changes that have become permanent
are TRUE distance traveled!
2. Are you having fun?
If your weight loss project is not like a fun run, then it’s time to figure out what adjustments will make the unhappy aspects more fun. Renovate only one dismal area at a time, choose the one that grabs you the most.
If exercise is the dismal area of weight loss for you, then I want you to figure out what you want more of in your life. The goal is to pair what you want more of in your life to the dismal area of your weight loss endeavor. For example – maybe you would like more social activities in your life. Find activities with quality social time that include exercise. You would want to make sure the exercise INCLUDES social exchange not just exercise with others where there is no exchange. Consider joining a social walking group. You love dancing, but have two left feet and are too self-conscious for free form – then how about joining a line dancing club? Does the sexy goddess in your secret garden want to come out of the closet? Take your pick. There are classes that teach hula, belly and pole dancing and even more risqué classes available.
It is hard to stick with and enjoy anything new when there is no draw. So find it. Polish your playful gene and put it to work. If you have kids, then make them your VIP fun masters – kids are experts in borderless curiosity, fun and play in all their honest innocence. Or spend time with someone who LOVES what you despise – their enthusiasm will nurture and offer new understanding.
These two question are simple, but they are projects, projects worth your time. The insights gained and the truths identified will shapeshift how you see what is happening by bringing the big picture into view. If despite my coaxing and guidance you are spinning out and beating yourself up then call me. There is no need for it and it won’t help. Together we will turn you around and get you a one way departure ticket to a better place.