At the beginning of every year I come up with a mantra for the year. I find this to be more effective in creating change than coming up with resolutions. The mantra usually evolves a bit over the year, but it’s a reminder of what I am focusing on and the evolution, shows progress. This year started out as “better choices”. I was happy with the direction my life was headed at the end of 2016 but reflecting on the year I was able to see that I had the opportunity to up my game a bit and make better choices thereby getting better results. The first evolution happened shortly into January of 2017. I replaced it with “better results, better choices.” I was recognizing areas that I wanted improvement but didn’t want to do anything different (hello exercise!). This helped me push through frustration I was having at seeing others succeed in areas that I wasn’t. They were obtaining better results due to better choices.
I on again off again exercised but nothing to strenuous and definitely nothing routine. On August 21, the first day of school, I knew that I wanted to set a different end of the day routine for my kids (better results, better choices). I told them that upon getting a snack and taking a little breather they either had to run a mile or bike four. Complaints and declarations of inability shortly followed. My response, “I’ll do it with you.” An eerie quiet fell over the car. Doubting what I had said they repeated “you’ll do it with us?” A little background: I am (was) a self professed non runner. I was proud of my non running status. I can walk for days, bike absolutely, elliptical, etc. pretty much anything to avoid the run. I have warned that if you ever see me running don’t ask questions and start running with me! So, I’m sure you can imagine my children’s shock at my offer. Due to this offer everyone of my children (6 in total ages 6-15) joined in. They waited for me to put on the proper attire, still not fully trusting me, and lined up out front with me. Due to different speeds we all agreed to a chalk tally mark by our chalk initials to mark our progress. And then, we were off.
I’ve got sprinters and I’ve got walkers, so we all finished at different times. All the kids were very happy with the fact that they beat mom. They were all happy that I participated and finished. I was shocked and surprised that I finished and with my time. At the end of the mile I felt like my chest and lungs might explode and my legs were going to fall off, but I also felt an amazing, growing, sense of pride, in myself. The last time I had run a mile was my junior year of high school it had taken me over 15 minutes, and I think that was the day I swore off running. This time I had completed the mile in 14 minutes and 58 seconds. In that moment a record breaking miracle. I feel pride in a lot of things, but realized that I didn’t give myself many opportunities to feel pride in myself, in something that I’d done for myself and no one else.
The bigger moments have actually followed that day. One of them was two days later when I put my shoes on and did it again. I really did not like the way I felt while I was doing it, but the way I felt after propelled me to keep on doing it. Not only have I kept doing it but I’ve gotten faster and gone farther. My goal was, and still is, 1 mile 5 days out of the week under 13 minutes. For the first month I was dedicated and consistent. I have had some ups and downs and had a few weeks where I only made the run once. Instead of giving up because I had failed (that was my past pattern) I have been aware, made the necessary adjustments, and gotten back at it. To further push myself I have signed up for my first 5K. There is a part of me, the part that compares myself to everyone else, that thinks it’s silly to do this because everyone else is out there having fun on Thanksgiving. For me this is a race, something I have concerns about finishing, concerns about starting, and concerns about how it all works. I’ve asked that part of me to take a break, sit this one out, and allow that part of me that is committed to success and trying something new to take over.
As I headed into the gym last week I evolved my mantra for the year again to “better results, better choices, better actions.” I did not want to go to the gym. I did not want to run. I did not want to take the action. I did however want the result and the benefit. I was once again reminded that I can’t complain about the results I am getting if I am not actively engaged in getting the result. It’s a bit disappointing that I can’t get the benefits of running if I am sitting on the couch looking at pictures of runners on Instagram. What’s not disappointing is the pride I feel in myself that I am taking the steps to accomplish something I had convinced myself that I couldn’t do.