Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Opinions are like elbows, everybody has one. All you have to do is look out into the blogosphere and you will find that anyone with a lap top and an internet connection can espouse truths for all of creation, for all of time. Just ask me, LOL. Iím one of them. Who do you listen to? Whoís right, whoís wrong? Who do you listen to? I am learning that as I build my own self confidence that the person I listen most to is me. I have trusted friends, people who guide me and whose opinions I really respect but in the end, itís me I listen to, because I know me, love me and respect me better than anyone I know. I couldnít have said those two years ago. Like a lot of us I had a dark and dirty secret: I followed the crowd. I latched on to the trends and fads. I did it to be accepted and after all arenít ďall of us smarter than one of us?Ē Not always.I am learning that while you and I are so much alike we are also so very different from each other. I am learning that I can gain wisdom from many sources and then patch it together like a beautiful quilt that will help me reach my goals. I make it mine.
Back in October, when I fell and injured myself, I did not want to run in that race. I didnít feel ready, but my son and daughter-in-law, fresh from their honeymoon and all of full of joy and bliss ďreally wanted to do this with me. It would be special.Ē I didnít feel right about it. In my mind I wasnít prepared for it and even before I tripped and fell I just didnít feel like things were going very well. I should have begged out. Lord knows there are other races to be run, but I didnít and I suffered the consequences. I didnít want to hurt their feelings. That taught me a major life lesson. It taught me that in a really healthy way my well-being comes first. If you read my blog yesterday you know something good came out of that experience but I canít help but wonder, if I had went with my gut feeling, would I be a bit further along.
God often reminds me that He canít do the things I ask for until I get out of the way and let Him. I do them for the same reasons you do. I want to be liked, loved and feel a part of the group. I donít trust myself because in my deepest darkest soul all I can see sometimes is the flaws, and the mistakes. So I cling to other peoples thoughts at times and pray that if they worked for them they have to work for me. Wont I be loved then, just like everyone else?
Donít misunderstand. I have trusted advisors. I have people whose opinions mean a lot to me. Some of them are here at Spark, and what they have taught me is to value myself. What works for me isnít always going to work for you. I have to continue growing if my own faith and my own confidence in my ability to make the best decision for me.
In the end the long term gain far outweighs the short term pain. There is a lot to be said for the old phrase ďTo thine own self be true.Ē
Monday, February 28, 2011
I fell down October 9. I fell down very hard, tore up my right knee and my left wrist. It took my knee over two months to grow new skin and if I hold my wrist the wrong way, a sharp pain shoots up my left arm. Thank goodness Iím still good looking. It was my second 5K. Iíd run my first just two weeks earlier. I was full of enthusiasm, joy and determination; until I fell down. My daughter-in-law said that one minute I was right behind her and the next minute she thought, ďHuh, John is flying past me. Wait a minute. Heís really flying past me!!!Ē I tripped on an expansion joint in a bridge and fell in a most spectacular manner.
I was determined though. Two days later, arm all wrapped up and knee all bandaged I ran again. You can call me brave or bold or determined. Iíll be kind to myself and call it a really bad error in judgment. It hurt, but I was scared, scared that if I didnít keep running I wouldnít be able to run again. It hurt a lot but I kept running. In early December I hurt my left knee. The doctor said it was similar to a race horse stepping the wrong way. He told me it was ďbad luck,Ē and to stay off of it for three or four weeks. I walked, pedaled a stationary bike and wondered if Iíd ever run again. Mid-way through the month of January I started to run again. Iíd run a mile and feel pain in the bottom of both my feet. Initially I wrote it off to not running for a month. The pain got worse. I talked to my doctor who uttered those two words no runner ever wants to hear ďPlanter fascia.Ē I did what every reasonable person would do, I went home and Googled it. I had one symptom out of four and refused to believe that was the problem. I purchased new running shoes; the pair I was using was eight months old and a bit worn, still no relief. I got new inserts and listened to a small voice in my head that told me to take a week off.
Joan told me in all the years we had been married she had never seen me so frustrated. I would wake up in the middle of the night and lie there trying to figure out what to do. I prayed a lot. I got an answer through a Spark friend who had gone through some suffering and some frustration of their own. It was distilled into one word, repeated over and over,Ē Persevere.Ē I have to admit that when I first read their advice I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting some sort of magic formula. Each day was an exercise in perseverance. There were more dark days then sunny ones. There were days that everything ached. I have an issue where my right leg pronates and the tenser I get the more it pronates until I feel my whole gait falling apart. I consulted a running coach who told me that when I noticed the pronation getting severe to stop running and walk. That hurt my pride!!! My confidence went in the tank. It wasnít only my running, I was no longer sure of anything I was doing. My weight bounced all over the place. I wasnít very motivated, yet every other day Iíd go out and run. I had registered for the Anthem 5K in Louisville back in November. It is the first major 5K of the year and usually draws well over ten thousand runners. I kept looking at the calendar and getting more worried. I wasnít sure I could do this!! What is I hurt too bad, what if I stumbled, what ifÖÖÖ..?
I was glad Joan had to work Saturday morning. She would come to Louisville later in the day. I would be alone and I was grateful in a way. If I fell apart only a bunch of strangers would see it. I left my hotel and walked to the race sight, about six blocks. It was 35F and it was still dark out. I must have stopped to turn around five times. I could always say it was too cold, or I couldnít find the race sight, or I could come up with something. I was glad I didnít.
If you have ever been around the start of one of these events you know what the electricity is like. It almost crackles in the air. As I warmed up with fourteen thousand other people I started to feel that wonderful tingling in my tummy. It became clear why I persevered. All the aches, the pains, the doubts, the starts and stops were now worth it. I stood there getting ready to run and I can tell you there was no other place I would have rather been. It all made sense to me.
I ran my race, I persevered and as I made the turn to run the last half mile or so down Main Street I gave one of those Tiger Woods fist pumps to myself and yup there were a few tears in my eyes. I crossed the finish line and lifted my eyes towards heaven and mouthed the words ďthank you.Ē I have a habit of writing the names of some Spark friends on a piece of paper before I run. They are people who for whatever reason canít run right now. I run for them because frankly during the race I draw some strength from their support. I squeezed that slip of paper.
I persevered. My wise Spark friend was correct. Running is just like life. If you believe, if you want something bad enough you will endure and in the end you will be treated to a most wonderful feeling deep down inside of you. Itís a feeling of pride, accomplishment and satisfaction that you did indeed persevere. It may have nothing to do with running but everything to do with you, what you are and who you are about.
If you are reading this and you are skeptical I can tell you six short weeks ago so was I. Then I learned to persevere.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Thereís a certain self-consciousness that goes with being overweight. We avoid mirrors like the plague. We have a tendency to keep our ideas to ourselves because after all who is really going to listen to a fat person? We sit at home a lot and we wring our hands because we feel the world is passing us by. On the off chance we do put it all together and maintain a healthy life style we feel like a fish out of water. In other words there are times on our journey that the road appears to be very steep and we decide itís not worth the climb. We resign ourselves to being overweight. After all, hasnít that been a problem in our family forever? Itís a deadly spiral. I have close to seven hundred Spark friends. Over two hundred of them have not changed their status in over six months. You have to wonder why.
I had an amazing opportunity yesterday. I had the opportunity to speak with a successful Sparker on the telephone. (Iím not going to out anyone so donít ask, LOL.) I took the opportunity to ask them things that sometimes you canít express in print or with an emoticon. It was not a touchy-feely, squishy conversation. They shared portions of their journey with me and allowed me to ask a lot of questions Iíd never get a chance to answer in responding to an email or blog. Iíll admit to you I was a bit scared. (Me!!! Yeah, me!!!) This person has been successful for some time. As I sat and talked with them I felt, well I felt FAT. LOL.
After we finished our conversation I thought about all of this. As an overweight person I am often reluctant to put myself out there. I know I do video blogs and all but I always wonder what you think about what I look like. I know, its madness isnít it? I often think that when I get ďskinnyĒ then Iíll do this or that or the other thingÖ.. Itís always the future. Nothing is in the right now.
Iím writing all of this to encourage you to find a way to get yourself involved in your own journey because honestly I donít like being alone. In many areas of the country there are Spark Rallyís this spring and summer. I am attending one in May in Cincinnati. When I joined the rally team I didnít know anyone and I still donít know any of those folks real well, but I am looking forward to meeting them. I am looking forward to listening to Coach Jen speak as well as some successful Sparkers and a remote session with Da Spark Guy himself.
Am I scared? Yup, I sure am. What if these people donít like me or judge me orÖÖÖÖ.. Itís really foolish. Like my conversation yesterday I learned that the worst things that can happen to you usually only happen inside the confines of your mind. I can make all sorts of excuses for not attending. I can use time, money and a host of others. The ticket for the day cost nine dollars. My hotel room is going to cost me forty nine dollars. Then thereís gasoline. I have a huge coffee cup on my desk. Every time I decide itís time for candy that involves peanut butter in it, I put sixty cents in the coffee cup. Itís going to defer the cost of my trip.
Iíll remain anxious, nervous and scared until I get there and most likely Iíll sit in the corner, a bit nervous, worried about what I am wearing and things of that nature. On the way home Iíll laugh at how silly Iíve been. Iíll never get to feel any of those feelings until I put my chubby little self out there and experience a whole, quasi-normal life.
There are millions of opportunities. Are there Sparkers in your area you could gather with? Do you Skype? Is there a Spark rally near you. Can you reach out and realize that whether we are at the beginning, middle or in the maintenance part of our journey we are all really the same. We want to be loved and appreciated.
Take a risk with me!!!
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
I owe February an apology. I will admit that for the longest time I have hated and despised her. She is mostly cold, gray and uncaring. She offers little sunshine and no solace. The one day she does offer a sliver of hope is designed around binging on sugar!!! I do not like her. January always brings hope. Itís a new year, a new me, a new chance to set right all the past wrongs and to emerge on the other side tall and victorious. February reminds me that usually by its second week I have forgotten all the joy and enthusiasm of January and nudges me into some sort of mild depression.
February deceives me. She tells me that soon will come March and April and May and if I just hang on my mood and my activity level and my weight will all move towards some positive and livable place. At my most positive, February is simply a month to hang on.
No, we are not going to hold hands and leap off a bridge. As I said, I owe her an apology.
I had a really crummy morning meditation. I could not focus and I could not feel anything very positive towards my day except a lot of dull, negative feelings that ended up in me feeling like I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and just say the heck with it. (My invective there would have been much stronger but this being a family web site and allÖ..) A friend of mine calls them mental monkeys. They are the crazy little thoughts that hop around your head like the monkeys swinging on the ropes at the zoo and keep you from concentrating on your thought and goals. Someone must have forgotten to feed them last night.
I ended my meditation with a sardonic ďGee that really helped.Ē I walked upstairs to cook breakfast and I looked out the kitchen window. Thatís when I discovered the value February had for me. She places all that dullness, grayness and inability to get terribly enthused about anything in front of me as a challenge. She dares me to keep moving forward and to do the things that I know are effective and the things that work well for me. They are the things that will make and keep me healthy. No matter how much I feel like giving in, February chides me, pushes me an d sticks her tongue out at me to dare me to do otherwise.
So I will head to the gym. I will eat within my calorie levels today and I will take time for myself to uncover and deal with the negative swirl thatís inside my head. I wonít do it joyfully; I will not declare triumph or pat myself on the back. It is routine and many days of routine are well worth the long term success I will feel as I move ever closer to my goals.
Thank you February. I forgive you.
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