This week, I'm going to depart slightly from the usual themes of adventure and risk management and talk about something that's kind of related, but at the same time, more to do with fitness and perceptions of health and well-being, which is technically what I'm always talking about too.
Anyway, I was lined up at a Starbucks. (I apologise deeply to my regular café haunts,. I'm loathed to admit that I was getting coffee here, but I needed an espresso and fast. Thinking of which, doesn’t espresso mean fast anyway? Then again you know I don't speak Spanish!) Ok, so back to the story. I was in an airport in the US getting coffee and the lady in front of me, who looked as though she could lose some weight, ordered a skinny mocha, but before placing the order, she asked if they had that nice whipped double cream. They did have the cream, which she was very happy with, but at the same time she insisted it had to be skinny milk. She wasn't joking or being sarcastic, she wanted a skinny mocha layered with double cream!!!
Being the second week of January, it felt like this was a New Year’s resolution gone seriously wrong. This is a classic lack of application and thought. I saw it another time when I was out shopping. A guy at the supermarket was sitting on the bench next to his trolley. It was filled with all sorts of processed food and very little fruit and veg. He was talking to another guy next to him complaining how he tried so hard and couldn't lose weight. Yet here he was with a pie in one hand and soft drink in the other. There are some mysteries in life that will never be solved!
Now who would I be if I simply criticised people and didn't understand their problem. However, I do! I won't go into the whole story now, but a few years ago, I was terribly overweight, to the tune of 30kg. I'd been like this for sometime but decided I was sick of looking the way I did and having no energy. What was I to do though? I could sit and complain about it and well… that didn't seem to change anything. The task felt a little overwhelming though. I knew how much I weighed, and I knew how much I wanted to weigh, but there was still this massive thing in the middle called action and to take action required willpower, something many people just don't seem to find enough of.
I was way gone on those scales almost hitting 90kg, when I should have been around 60kg. It was for me to do something about it, or I'd be overweight forever! As with most people and ‘new things,’ the first day I was full of energy and ready to go! I walked down to Narrawallee Beach (which is about 1.3kms long). After stretching, I started running. I thought I was going really well. I'd made it to the rocks (200m) then over them (210m) and down the main stretch of the beach. Gasping and panting for air I pulled up. I was completely wrecked, dripping with sweat and my head was throbbing. I’d made it… half way. So at about 650m I was done. I couldn't go any further.
At this point, I could have gone one of two ways. I could have given up and started drinking skinny milk to make me feel as if I were possibly doing something to lose weight, or I could try again the next day! So given the fact that I hate the taste of skinny milk, I tried again the next day! With my body still aching from the day before, I'd set the goal of making it to the other end of the beach without stopping. ¾ of the way along I wanted to give up, but I pushed through this pain and kept going right to the end. It wasn't a record breaking time, but time didn't matter, I'd made it to the end and that was all I cared about!
Each day and week I pushed myself a little further and a little harder. Now it was to the end of the beach and back, then it was 1.5x then 2x then out to the next beach along. I started feeling better and better and had more and more energy as the weeks and months rolled by.
If I'd taken the easy option of pretending to diet, and do no exercise then I'd be in the same place as the lady with the skinny mocha with double thick whipped cream, or the pie and soft drink guy! Don't get me wrong, I’m no health fanatic by any means and eat my fair share of chocolate, whipped cream and doughnuts, but I balance this out with exercise and the willpower not to make excuses for my situation.
In the long run (which it was), I lost 30kg and went from not even being able to run 1km without near collapse to running the Canberra Half Marathon Twice and my own personal marathon once!
To achieve this however, I didn't do anything special other than put one foot in front of the other and kept going until I'd reached my goal. So if you want to achieve something or make a difference in your life, take that first step and the next and the next, even if it's a massive goal and for me,shedding 1/3 of my body weight was. It all starts with those first few steps and the willpower to keep going.
So don't go putting whipped cream on your skinny mocha. You're just pretending you're doing something! But use your willpower, drive and determination instead. Turn your life around and if you do run a marathon, you can have whipped cream on anything you like!