A strange and wonderful thing happened this morning when I logged on to Facebook.
A friend had tagged me in a post, saying that I'd helped inspire her to start training for a 5k. I don't feel like an inspiration. I'm ... well ... just Rick. I'm just a guy who started walking one day and hasn't stopped.
And here's the thing. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times ... but I very truly and very deeply do believe it.
If I can do it, anybody can.
I don't have any super-secret diet or workout plan that's going to somehow make me a billionaire, but what I do know is that I've learned several things along this journey that might help you in yours.
*First things first. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and don't stop. Yes, it's going to hurt. Yes, you're going to be sore. But trust me. It hurts a lot worse when you quit.
*Have a fixed distance that you want to walk or run and then go out and do it. If you wind up having to crawl, then so be it. If you're having a heart attack or break a leg, you can stop. Otherwise, keep going.
*This one's easier said than done, and I'm the world's
worst about it, but try not to compare yourself to the success
anyone else may or may not be having. I read a quote early on in this
process that has stuck with me ever since. It said basically that when
you're in a race, the competition isn't actually with other runners.
It's with that small voice in the back of your head telling you to
quit. Ignore what the hardcore super jock pretty boys and girls are doing and keep ... moving ... forward.
*Find someone who will hold you accountable. You can absolutely fool yourself into believing that you're doing all you can when in fact you're not. There will be moments when you hate the person who's keeping your feet to the fire ... you might curse them under your breath ... or even to their face. Yet, suddenly, you'll realize that they've pushed you infinitely further than you ever thought possible.
*Challenge yourself. If you went a mile yesterday, go out and do a mile and a half today.
*Learn to spit in the eye of disappointment. The road you're on is extraordinarily tough, and there will be days when things just don't go very well. That little voice that's telling you that it would be easier to stay on the couch or in your recliner? It's not lying. It would be easier ... but tell the voice to shut the heck up any way and head back out the door for more.
*Do not make laps of a track if at all possible, because every single time you get back to the point at which you started, you'll come up with all kinds of excuses to stop. Concentrate instead on walking or running on sidewalks. That way, you have to keep going to get back home or to your vehicle.
*Rain is your friend when you walk or run, not an excuse to skip it this time around. There are lots of reasons why, really. It's cooler during summer months. You concentrate on the weather and don't think quite so much about what's hurting. Maybe most importantly, you're doing something a lot of other people aren't willing to do. Running with a light snow falling is the absolute best of all!
*Forget about this diet plan or that. Yes, they can work ... but when it comes down to it, eating better is nothing more than common sense. You know you're not supposed to eat a Wendy's double cheeseburger with biggie fries. You know a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts aren't good for you. You know there are better choices than Reese's Peanut Butter Cup eggs and Oreo cookies.
*When your meal arrives in a restaurant and it's a big portion, do not take a single bite before placing at least half of it in a to-go box. Take that first nibble before doing so, and it's far too easy to keep right on going until the whole thing is gone.
*That tip on learning to cope with disappointment? It applies to your eating habits, too. There will obviously be times when you slip up, and they're literally the fork in the road where you can choose to go one way or the other. Take the road less traveled. It's worth it. I promise.
*If you listen to music, audiobooks, podcasts or anything of the sort when you walk or run on those sidewalks, use the speakers on your smart phone instead of ear buds or head phones. That way, you can hear oncoming traffic, dogs and potential attackers that may or may not be headed your way. Be vigilant.
*Get shoes that are as bright and flashy as possible. Not that you're trying to make a fashion statement, but you do want to be seen by oncoming traffic.
The bottom line is this. The first step of this journey is the easy part. It's what takes place when you're tired ... and sore ... or mad ... or sad ... or disappointed ... that determines whether or not you're going to be successful. Will those kinds of things stop you in your tracks, or do you keep going?
It's all up to you.