It's one thing to want to be physically fit, be able to wear your clothes comfortably, and read a number on the bathroom scale you love—in effect, to sculpt your body into the shape and size you want.
Certainly the “end” is unambiguous and delightful to envision—we can picture how we look in our mind’s eye. It is the “means” that trips us up. How do we become our personal best at any age?
It’s tempting to begin by adopting the latest fad diet or weight loss product to only to be disappointed when willpower fades or the product is a bust. I took that path for 40 years.
Although I am admittedly a slow learner, I eventually succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. What did I do differently?
I changed my thinking. As a result of thinking differently, my behavior was permanently altered.
I mustered every ounce of emotional will available to me. In a quiet moment of reflection, I connected with the “me” that functions as my inner witness. She was excited to begin. Her eager response: "Yes! Let's do it. I’ve been waiting. Now’s the time.”
I had two nonnegotiable rules: Unless I was sick or injured, each day I would exercise one hour and limit my caloric intake to 1,500-1,800 calories. I adopted a “no matter what” attitude that applied from this moment forward.
To keep that emotional will in place, I wrote down what I wanted to achieve and made daily food journaling part of the accountability process. I carefully wrote down and acknowledged my progress and setbacks.
Most importantly, I went public with my commitment and sought support from family, friends and experts, as needed.
I worked with a physical therapist to rehabilitate a torn hamstring, I took some instruction from a personal trainer and I attended tennis clinics. I also checked in with my doctor frequently.
Even so, my path wasn’t smooth. Breakdowns occurred. For every 10 steps forward, I took 1 backward. Still, I learned to be compassionate when I lost ground. Instead of berating myself, I reassured myself. I reminded myself that I was human and that to be human is to be imperfect. Then I focused on the lessons I could learn from the setbacks I endured and recommitted myself to my goals.
I also learned how important it was to support others in reaching their fitness goals hence my interest in writing this note to you—a friend I have yet to meet. When I lend a hand to a traveler on the fitness path, I am repaid with a deposit in my own emotional willpower bank. “To give is to receive” takes on new meaning.
When we are ready to reach for our dream, first we must summon the emotional will and change how we think. Our goals must have a “no matter what” quality. We must articulate our dream by writing down our goals. Finally, we must give and receive help so that together we can experience the joy of becoming our personal best.
What about you? Does this resonate with you?