Friday, May 07, 2010
I am my own hero and you are yours.
As we slog and slosh through our days and pin our hopes on saints and other sinners, when all is said and done the real hero in my life is me and you in yours. We never see it that way. We tend to compare ourselves to other people and when we do, we inevitably come up short in our performance. It’s because our life is not their life, plain and simple. We benchmark our activity against what we “are supposed to be” and rather than savor the very unique perspective we provide the universe. We dwell on all our mistakes and shortcomings until we reach a moment where we throw our hands up in despair and exist in some sort of funk that slowly kills our spirit.
We are never good enough and eventually neither are our heroes. Whether they be in sports, politics, or entertainment they possess the same flaws, the same weaknesses and the same failures we do. Theirs are simply magnified by the large stage they command. When they finally do fail, we abandon them and curse the fates. We mutter to ourselves “If they can’t do it, neither can I. What’s the use?”
Become your own hero.
Look at your life and chronicle the adversity you have overcome in your life. Look at the sum total of your journey as you sit here this morning and then pin a huge medal on yourselves. No one but you knows the triumphs and the tragedies. No one but you knows how hard you may have struggled to reach a goal that others may have found easy. Remember how good it felt when you reached it? Remember the enthusiasm, the confidence? You were ready to slay the world.
Become your own hero.
“But John, there are people who have endured a lot more in their life than I have in mine. I just don’t feel right standing here with my chest puffed out taking all the credit when so many people suffer.”
No problem is a small problem if it is your problem.
Remember how you struggled with the same four or five pounds in what seemed like an eternity? Recall how you persevered and triumphed? No one but you knows how difficult that journey was and no one but you knew how sweet the victory was
Maybe you were the last person at the gym before they turned out the lights or you kept going to zumba until your legs didn’t end up in a tangled mess. You strutted to the car then, didn’t you?
Be your own hero.
It may be the triumph of working out five days in a row even if it was only for ten minutes a day. That was your marathon. That was your victory. Your victories are so personal and so dear that you should be proud of each one of them and let the world know how good you feel.
When you and I become our own heroes we become positive examples. When we become positive examples to other people we encourage them to become heroic in their own right. It is one continuous positive circle.
When I make the choice to overcome adversity or destroy an obstacle that is in my path, I am providing myself with the motivation and inspiration to continue my journey and be a hero.
Guilt is never, ever a positive motivator and despite what some well intentioned people might say, there is no such thing as “good guilt.” Never feel guilty when you fall, wear it as a badge of honor like veterans of so many wars do. Grizzled, battered, and bowed at times, they move forward confident that the next battle will produce victory because their past failures provided wisdom for the future, not guilt.
They are heroes, just like me.
Just like you
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
Terry and I had been talking for close to an hour. He had told me fifteen times how his lack of success in life stemmed from a verbally abusive father. Fifteen times, I know because I was keeping track. I’m not sure whether it was out of frustration or genius but I put my hand out in a motion to stop him.
“When’s the last time your dad ragged on you?” I asked.
Terry moved some papers around on his desk, looked at me and in one of those sotto voices we all get from time to time replied “Well, he’s been dead for over twenty years, so I guess twenty years.”
“And you have been using that as a reason to not be successful?”
He looked at me a minute, sorta with that hurt puppy dog look.
“I make excuse too, ya know, probably more than you. Lemme tell you a story.” I began.
Monday morning was my last Ab-Blast class for two weeks. I could tell the instructor was frustrated with us because she kept repeating the same instruction to us over and over again:
“People, keep your heinies down please!!!”
Finally she told us to stop, sit on our mats and look at her.
“If you don’t do it right people, you are only cheating yourself!”
It was like the heavens opened for me. (I still couldn’t keep my rear end down completely, but I am working on that.) I can use anything I want to motivate me and help me reach my success and I can use anything I want to prevent me from reaching my success. I am only cheating myself.
How many of you write me and tell me that skinny or fat you will still be my friend? Joan will still love me. I have built in excuses if I choose to take them.
I have built in reasons to be successful also. I have a good food plan, a solid exercise program and a clear set of goals and objectives. If I choose to “fudge” on them, well I am only cheating myself. It’s easy for me to blame everything from the alignment of the planets to the New York Yankees for my failure. In the end it’s only me that determines my success.
Yes, we have obstacles and there are mean and cruel people in our path who for whatever reason do their best to stop our forward progress.
I keep a button in my brief case. I have carried it for close to twenty years. It’s one of those “not buttons” You know the button with the little circle and the line through. The writing beneath is says “Them.”
You know “Them” they are the people we blame for our failures. Their cousins are “those people.”
The button was given to me by a friend I met in the late eighties. She carried a purse full of them with her. She said she refused to give anything or anyone power over her. She gave me the button and then told me the story that went with it.
She was walking home from work one evening. It was a nice night, sorta like the ones we have this time of year. She lived in a suburb of Washington DC. Three blocks from home she was attacked, repeatedly by a group of men. She was raped repeatedly and left clothes torn and in a coma, in the gutter. A man found her six hours later when he got his morning paper. She was told it was a miracle she survived the attack.
She suffered organic brain damage because of the trauma to her head. That was minor compared to the emotional horror she endured. She didn’t work for two years. She told me when I met her she was paralyzed, both physically and emotionally. Until this day, she walks with a slight limp in her gait and has problems putting a complete thought together at times.
One day she was in a small shop and saw the button and she told me it was like an angel touched her on the shoulder. She purchased all the buttons the store had, went home and decided it was time to start living again. She went back to college, not just any college, Georgetown mind you, and graduated with honors. When I met her she was working for the US Government in their state department. Since then she has started a successful business of her own.
I keep that button with me. Maybe I don’t look at it enough, but yesterday morning after I left Terry I put it on my lapel to remind me, that the only person who controls what happens to me is me.
I can make all the excuses I want to but when I do then “They” win. “They” are right. Abusive parents, spouses, siblings or friends. The moment I let “them” gain control of how I live and how I react, then Brandy, my most amazing fitness instructor is right.
I am only cheating myself.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
I have a full day in the car, with three or four stops over the next ten hours. I'll be back later this evening.
I hope everyone has a great day and thank you so much for all your love, friendship and support.
You are a great bunch of people
Monday, May 03, 2010
If you have followed the adventures of this over weight middle aged traveler, you will know that for the last two days I had checked into the Anxiety Hotel, penthouse suite, for what apprised to be an extended stay. If you haven’t read Saturday and Sundays blogs I’ll wait here while you do.
Good you’re back!!!
Without the guidance and wisdom my wife provided me I might still be stuck in my gloom. As we were getting ready to go to the gym yesterday afternoon I was struck with another feeling. It was one of relief. I’d like to tell you that the relief came from understanding where I had stumbled or failed. I’d like to tell you it came from reinforcing my plan so that I could minimize future weight gains. That’s what I’d like to tell you.
As I stuffed my back pack I was hit with this wonderful sense of relief that I no longer had to be perfect. See, I have had fourteen consecutive weight losses for sixty pounds before yesterday. That works out to around three pounds per week. Every time I would lose some weight I wouldn’t do the happy dance, there was part of me that went “Oh crap. Now I have to do it again next week.”
As an overweight person I know that I spend a lot of time compensating. I do not fit in to the men’s equivalent of a size zero but somewhere deep in my psyche I think I should. But I don’t and then things get all crazy. That means, my evil twin, also known as my ego, says we have to be a lot better than everyone else just to be equal with everyone else. In other words we have to be perfect.
Until yesterday morning I was like a dog chasing his tail. I created this really vicious cycle that with each weeks weigh in, the stakes got higher and higher and I found it harder and harder to be perfect.
I wasn’t eating enough and what I was eating fulfilled an immediate need but didn’t give me what I needed to sustain myself and to lose some of this weight. I threw reason and rational thinking out the window. I have seen this coming for a couple of weeks now. It’s like going to Vegas with the mortgage money.
“One donut won’t hurt!!! “
“Ah it didn’t!!! Cool I’ll have another this week.” (BTW you don’t need to write it down.)
Two steps forward for every one step back. That’s what we are taught here isn’t it?
I do not have to be perfect. I just have to be John and you sitting there reading this have to be you. When we first joined Spark People we were asked to sign a little pledge card. Mine still hangs on the fridge. I looked at it before I wrote this blog and I am quite sure that no where does it say we have to be perfect from now until the end of time. It says “I promise to make healthy and positive choices so that I can have live a healthy life style and reach my goals.” Pretty straight forward and simple. No mention of perfection.
The real beauty of what happened to me this weekend exists on a lot of different levels and as you read this you may find a few more that apply to you.
First I am blessed to have the guidance, support and wisdom of my family, especially my wife. I have a daughter in law in culinary school who is a “healthy chef” and truly is a size zero. She gives me a lot of recipes for good tasting food without paying that “gourmet calorie price.” The rest of my kids encourage me and some of them have amped up their exercise.
I have you guys. I quit reading all the supportive comments on my blogs and my Spark page around ten last night because my eyes were watering. Wow. You wanna talk about an out pouring of love!!! I was over whelmed by it.
Here is my point: Every one of us has people, places and things in our lives that help us make a difference and keep us on the path most days. You and I have Spark in common, but I’ll bet if we sat down and had a cup of coffee we’d find out we had a lot more in common than that.
Lean on each other, support each other and to those of you who are feeling the strain and maybe leaving this experience I tell you this:
“You do not have to be perfect; you just have to be you. The last time I looked we take all comers here, no matter how silly they get some times.”
Just ask me, I know
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