I recently wrote a post about the importance of finding strength for me as a means of self-definition and understanding, but there’s a part that I want to be clearer on because I think it really matters.
With the gift of choosing your own path and standards for physical fitness comes an obligation to you, to your body, mind and soul.
You owe it to yourself to make your standards for health and happiness unique to you, it is true, but you also are worth enough as a human being to set them high.
Set them high enough to challenge you, to make you uncomfortable, to excite and scare you a little (or a lot, sometimes), and always be prepared to move the boundaries a little as you grow.
I have been given this body as a tremendous tool. For many years, I didn’t quite know how best to treat it or use it, but I tried. I ran, I tried assorted diets, I worked various jobs, I went to the gym, I made art, I went to school, I did triathlon, I learned languages, I went to grad school, I made a marriage, I carried and gave birth to a child, I grew a garden, I hiked, I photographed and, in short, I Lived. Looking back on it now, I can see where I failed, but I can also see what I’ve learned and where I succeeded. Everything I have been contributes to who I am now and who I may yet become.
Your body is no less of a miracle and has no less potential than mine. What you do with that is up to you.
You can set your own standards of shape, weight, strength, appearance, knowledge, skill, or whatever has meaning to you, but don’t sell yourself cheaply. Change your standards, by all means, but don’t take the easy route of giving up and lowering your standards. That’s not a life, that’s death.
I chose to focus on strength as the most fitting way of defining myself, but I didn’t choose to eat willy-nilly, train when I feel like it, and not take care of myself. My big choice focusses my other choices and gives me a reason to continuously strive to improve. I simply picked a different set of ways to do that. They weren’t easier. In fact, I would say that I work harder at it now than I did when feeling miserable while starving myself on ridiculous diets or doing vast amounts of cardio with the (unrealistic) aim of weighing 135lbs.
Look, I’ve spent time sitting alone, staring at the ocean, overwhelmed by feelings of failure and wondering who the hell I was fooling by pursuing a dream that seems so out of reach at times as to be mythical. I get it.
Every single person gets there at some point. What you have to learn to do (and this, like lifting weights, takes practice) is to stand up again, brush yourself off, figure out WHY you just failed or what’s not working, and try again. And you’d better get used to trying again, because that is the absolute secret to success. It’s the magic pill that everyone wants.
Try again. Try new tactics. Try harder. Try with a different mindset. Try a different approach. Try with different help. Try with different people cheering you on. Try with a new environment.
But for the love that you have for yourself, TRY. All of your life. Don’t give up and roll over.
You get to set the standards and write the manual for your own life.
Will it be easy? Hell, no. Nothing worth doing ever is.
Make it good. Make it beautiful. Go after it.