The Crossroads

crossroadsDestinationY_O_U

Where will you be in five years?

You will be somewhere.  Alive or dead, in five years you will be somewhere.   Hopefully, you will be alive, and then the question becomes; will your destination be a well-designed destination, or will it have no design at all?

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Today.  You are at a crossroads.   Crossroads are powerful things; they are religious and full of meaning.  They are spiritual and can signify calamity, uncertainty, and risk but they can also signify choice, freedom, and hope.   And today – you are at a crossroads.

You have a choice to make.

Just by showing up today, you have made a choice.   You did something today you’ve never done before and that led you here, to this new place with these new people.  That’s not easy.  It’s not as comfortable as many other things you could probably think of.   I imagine eating ice-cream and watching Netflix might feel more comfortable than this.   I imagine doing some quasi-work to excuse myself from not doing what I said I was going to do might feel better than this in the short-run.  I imagine there are worse places I could have chosen too, but I made a choice – I came to the crossroads and I made a choice to be right here, with you all.

And you made that same choice so here you all are.

You will encounter many crossroads along the way, and this might surprise you but, whatever direction you decide to take when you get to that point, you will always end up at some version of yourself – in five years, no matter which way you turn.   It is inevitable.

The version of yourself that you will encounter in five years will be the result of the direction you went when you made the choices you made today, and the choices you will make tomorrow.   The YOU! that you will discover in five years will be the result of all the excuses and justifications or the sum of all the hard-work and hard-choices you made to get there.

This program really is that important.  You really are that important.   The stakes are high, and you have some hard choices to make if you really want to be the best version of yourself; Destination YOU!

OW! It’s working!

I want to talk about something for a second here because it’s come up from a few of you and we all need to be on the same page. So here it is – credit Brown’s Boot Camp – Weight Loss and total body fitness (correct me if I’m wrong) is 75% diet/nutrition and 25% Physical Activity.   What does that mean?   It means that if you start working out or increasing your workouts but you do nothing about your diet, odds are stacked against that you’ll reach your target weight and maintain a healthier body composition.
Great bodies are made in the kitchen, not in the gym and not on the track.
Think about that for a second. What percentage of your effort goes into your diet and what percentage of your effort goes into your workouts?    We tend to think that when we get out there and run or lift or whatever it is we’re doing, and we get a nice sweat going, that we are putting all of our effort into our workouts and that’s the place for it, but what about with our diets?   What does it look like to put our effort into what we eat? Have you ever thought of it as effort?   I don’t know about you but for me, it’s hard to be hungry and have my body just craving some carbs SO bad.  I get hangry!   Irritated.  It sucks to eat a scheduled meal that looks big but leaves you hungry for more.  How can it be that I just ate all this food and I’m still hungry?   Normally, I would reach for something..anything to feed my craving.   Normally, I’m not really even hungry anymore, I’m just craving something sweet or filling despite feeling in my stomach that I really am full.   If I eat anything else, it’s just stuffing myself.   What I’m driving at is that not eating when you want to and what you want to and as much as you want to when that is what you’ve been doing up to this point is one hard battle to fight.   And you have to keep on fighting it, everyday, all day, with little moments in between where you learn to make yourself busy and forget about it for a minute.
You may not break out into a sweat, but that hungry feeling and those cravings are as much an effort to deal with and resist than pushing yourself to run a 5k everyday.. or a marathon.   It’s almost impossible.   You have to think of little tricks to help you cope with it.   One of my favorites is the Mohammed Ali pushups quote adaped for dieting; “I don’t start counting my pushups until it gets hard!”.   In dieting and watching your portions and food balance, when it gets hard.. is when it starts counting.   When you’re body is lurching with food-cravings and driving you insane, that’s when you’re losing weight, burning calories, getting tougher mentally.. that’s when it’s WORKING!   That’s when you KNOW it’s WORKING.  Getting the signal that what you’re doing is working – even if that signal is pain or discomfort or irritation – still feels good and you can feel a little jolt of accomplishment.   Just don’t get too comfortable because the next craving is right around the corner.

But for yourself

Getting over the fear that I have of making a call to someone who could create a situation where I either fail or succeed, and to be perfectly honest, it doesn’t even have to be something so dire; it could be the thumbs up or down for a preliminary decision or even more simple.

It could just be that I’m afraid to ask for what I want.

That.  That is really hard for me to do.

Fear of failure is strong with this one.   And this one.. and this one.. and so on, on and on. We’re all afraid of failing, of looking bad, of being less, of losing the respect of our friends and families and even worse sometimes – complete strangers.   We want to be loved – not pitied.   We want to be heroes, not villains.  We want to be good.

I hit that crossroads in junior high school and I remember clearly the turn I took and the path I travelled when I realized I wasn’t doing so hot with quick, zingy come-backs or just standing up for myself, so I decided to just shut up.   It was deliberate.   I remember deciding to play it safe – that if I didn’t say anything and just kept my mouth shut, I would disappear into the noise of a 7th grade existence.   That’s what I did, and it worked.. kinda.

We can’t go back.  We can’t undo that turn like flipping through a choose-your-own-adventure book and explore an alternate reality.  We can’t rewind.  No mulligans, no take-backs.. nothing.  And just as an aside – this is one of those life lessons that stings a bit; You don’t get second chances.   I’m not even going to argue this point here – you know what I mean.   You don’t get do-overs – period.   Once something’s out there, it’s out there. Employ all the damage control you want, a bad first impression, a drunken tirade, a hasty decision in the heat of the moment – they all have consequences and that’s life. Whatever happened might not destroy what you have, but it won’t ever be completely forgotten and it will defnitely add a shade of color to your relationships moving forward.

But even that’s not always a bad thing.

I tried out for the speech team in Junior High.   Looking back now, I feel like I should have been a shoe-in.   I’m fairly comfortable in front of crowds (now), I’ve spoken and spoken well at times, sticking to an outline – when leading my 5k groups or talking to a group of friends or even adult Sunday School in my twenties; sure!  I was nervous, but I wasn’t horrbile.   No!  I’m not really that bad, but when I tried out for the speech team, I had no idea what I was doing.  I don’t think I even told my parents.   They handed me something, I read it extremely nervously, and that was it – I didn’t get in. The only reason I mention this is because I want you to know that I wasn’t happy being a wall-flower. Despite playing it safe, I didn’t want to be relegated to the background.   I wanted to matter.   I wanted to be on the speech team; a place that I earned and a place that I belonged to.   They didn’t want me.

When I tried to matter – I didn’t get picked.

And  I still remember this thirty-five years later- I don’t really remember moping around about not getting on the team.   Maybe because it was confirmation of what I already knew about myself – I can’t be ‘that guy’.   You know the one.  The guy who has a ready answer in any situation.  The guy who all the girls like to be around.  The guy who has earned the admiration of the other guys – he’s the Guy of all Guys!

I guess I’m just writing all of this to say that I’ve always tried to be whatever everyone else wants me to be – or what society thinks I should be, or so I think.   Sure!  I’ve gotten WAY better at just ‘being myself’, but a lot of the things I do, I still do for other people – and I catch myself all the time.   It all sounds so trite, doesn’t it?   It does to me – but I ask myself a few questions and it becomes a little less weird –

Am I really living out MY life, unfettered from the expectations I percieve others have in me?

Guys!   That kind of self-reflexive questioning is NOT a bad thing.   When you add the word ‘really’ to any question, it not only casts doubt on what you have taken for granted for so long, it really forces you to examine why you did so in the first place.   And again, if you’re first response is to defend that position at all costs without really thinking about it, reflexively beating your chest – you lose.  Period.

Am I REALLY living up to my full potential?

How much of my life and how many of my daily actions are purely to curry the favor of someone else?

Or, what does a life look like – what does MY life look like – if it were acted purely from my own self-interest?  

Is that (really) a bad thing?

 

How to say this..?

Lately, I’ve really been struggling with a topic that I wanted to write about.  This is probably the fifth time I’ve sat down and started banging out a piece.

How to talk about missed opportunities and taking chances?  Meeting people and climbing out of our shells to do something we have no business doing.  Thinking of all these angles to look at it – the marketing standpoint; that we’re all selling something and our reputation is our “brand” so we have to watch what we say and to whom and strike the right balance of knowing the situation we’re in and what’s appropriate to that given situation – at least, in the context of what it is we want to accomplish or whether we even care.   (“Not caring” is still a kind of advertising message).   For that matter, living ‘authentically’ and being ‘in the moment’ is, in a disgustingly cynical sense, still a chosen modus operendi.

Think about the serendipity of how a seemingly inauspacious encounter might turn someone’s life around in a good way, or completely destroy one’s future.

When driving around, it’s easy to miss all of these side streets and alley-ways.  We’re going at a good clip and they just slip by.  But these are all crossroads and choices that lead to places we haven’t been before, people we haven’t met before or taken the time to engage.  We’re so accustomed and focused on where we’re going, we just don’t consider the possibilities of where life might lead us next if we were to recognize the cascading effect of a timely turn of the wheel, an introduction and smile or word of encouragement to a complete stranger.

Sometimes those turns, insignificant as they seem at first, become major headings in our lives – we trace everything back to meeting a person, moving across town, quitting a job, trying out a new hobby, taking a trip, taking a class, saying “hello”, or any number of things, or people, or turns that we had not previously taken – and now look at where they have led.

And while it is habit that keeps us running along in our familiar routines, it is also the comfort that comes along with it and the fear of losing it if we do something we don’t know.  Fear of being new at it and looking like we’re new at it.   Fear that noone is going to like you or that you won’t belong.   So I avoid.   I buffer with delicious food, games and distractions, religious fervor, political rage – I fill my life with useless things that consume my time and displace that immortal asset with the empty promise of tomorrows, regretful todays, and wasted yesterdays.

It is escapism.  I escape.  Then I escape again from the shame of escapism.   The crossroads slip by and I am aware, but they are new and terrifying and my normalcy is killing me slowly and comfortably.

Sometimes, it’s that nagging “Who do you think you are!” voice inside of our heads that makes us shy away from the blaze of that campfire confession, that stage light, or the plain realization that you will either act in life at a given point and in a given situation – or you will not.

So, I turn and discover how wonderful it is to be alive and to know you all.  To be human with you all and being in this thing together.   To offer what help I can give and to meet those wonderful people who help me out with their hearts full of love.

For me, that little turn was downloading a fitness app.   Little did I know it would lead me here and lead me to you all – “And that has made all the difference”.

 

Not showing up!

By the way, this isn’t going to be a guilt-trip kind of blog.   If you’re braced for a verbal/written tongue-lashing, you might be disappointed.   It isn’t that we don’t need a kick in the pants sometimes, but that’s not my job here – that’s your job.   But you have another job too, and that’s what I want to talk about today.

We all have this script in our heads of ‘how things should be’.  In running races from 5k’s all the way up to ultras, we have this undefined image of how the race ‘should’ go.   Of course, things never quite turn out the way we plan though, do they?  We go out too fast, the weather is awful, our knee is bothering us on race day, we trip somewhere along the way or take a wrong turn, we can’t quite seem to dig ourselves out of a recursive negativity.   All these things and more can happen in races, they can happen to our plans, and they can happen in life.

Not only can they happen.. we all know, they will happen.

So something happens and our plans get wrecked.  We can’t make it to a meeting we wanted to go to, we can’t find the will to leave an aid station and continue on our journey or race, we can’t figure out how to write a proposal or create a strong elevator pitch for an idea that’s been knocking around forever.   But at that point, it stops being about that thing, whatever it is, and starts being about you.   Who you are.  How will you handle this setback, defeat or failure.  What will you DO, now?

And the funny thing is, it was ALWAYS about you, the whole time.

When those curveballs come, you need to find the original script – “So those plans got smashed.. what gives me the best chances of moving forward?”.   That’s how you show up, even when you couldn’t “show up”.   You brush yourself off, you take on this new challenge of forgiving yourself, accepting it for what it is and nothing more, and you let go of that self-abusive, useless and even damaging thought process.

Letting failure tear you down is the worst two-for-one deal you could ever take – but you don’t have to!

Guest blog: “I hate Running”

“The thing that I love the most”

Emily, aka “RobotLeggs”

I recently came across an article entitled, I Hate Running, which resonated with me on a level I didn’t expect it to. It inspired me to further examine what I also love and hate about the thing that I love the most: running.

It really is a relationship in and of itself. Running is a thing or a hobby or an obsession or whatever you want to call it, that millions of people have a relationship with. Like most relationships, it has its peaks, valleys, and all the stages in between. If you’re lucky, it gives back what you put in. Some days it’s easy, some days it’s damn hard. Some days, reality matches your hopes and expectations. Some days, you want to quit before you even start. Running, for me, encapsulates how I want to approach life – by really being alive and experiencing, accepting, and appreciating it for what it is each day, whether it presents itself through love or hate.

Sometimes, thoughts and feelings of love and hate flow through my body simultaneously, as if they’re in an epic battle to see whether the other will back down and give up. Those are the most defining moments, those moments when you’re right on the edge of your physical, emotional, and mental pain threshold… and you want to quit. But you know that this is where growth happens. This is when all your best – or your worst – qualities surface: either your perseverance, courage and grit; or your fear, lack of confidence, and self-deprecating monologues. As it is in running, it is in life.

Thank you, Emily for this great blog.  You really capture the way I feel about running and how, just as in life, it can be simultaneously challenging and totally rewarding. 

You’ve got this!

It’s so freaking easy to get discouraged.  Here we are in late January and, for many, that New Years gym membership is already getting dusty.  The new bike is hanging safely from the garage ceiling.   We’ve started eating sweets again, or whatever.  

For some, you’re on the she and getting closer to tipping over.  Not sure how much longer you can hang on.  

I have a message for both groups. “It’s not too late, you aren’t beaten, don’t give up!”

Maybe the change is being super stubborn.  Maybe you’ll have to tweak some things and try again. Maybe you’ll need to do something completely different.  But. Don’t.  Give. Up!

Your new attitude is “I’m going to have a healthy lifestyle even if I don’t see improvement!”  You won’t always have motivation or the will to follow through but giving up is just something you don’t do.  You get back up, you dust yourself off, you try again.  You will accept yourself where you are and keep doing the work to get you to where you want to be, he’ll or high-water. 

Trust me.  Relentless forward progress will yield results.  I promise. 

You’ve got this!