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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Vocabulary Lesson



Well folks, it's been a while since I've done much posting here instead of snarky comments on Facebook. Sorry for that. I brew up some great blog posts out on my long runs and rides, but somehow life gets in the way and I just don't find the time in the day to put those thoughts into the written word.


Lately, I've been thinking a lot about what people can achieve. It seems it was not that long ago that I found myself making excuses for why I couldn't possibly do things. Going for a walk with my dogs, hopping on a bike, losing 20 pounds, doing anything active or social was pretty much out. I was plagued with excuses.... too much to do for work, too much stress in my life to participate in life rather than watch, too much I had to manage for my kids, my home, my job, my yard, my everything. "I can't," "I won't," "I'll never" were integral parts of my vocabulary.


What I've learned over the past few years, is that the only thing that holds a person back from achieving anything is the restrictions they place on themselves in their own mind.


As I was running tonight, my mind wanders. I was trying to find the motivation to keep moving and found myself repeating the same idea over and over to keep going. "You can do anything for a minute," which quickly became "for a block," "for a mile," and "until you get home." I bargain with myself a lot that way, gutting it out to the next goal and then setting new ones. I think really that is the key - setting your mind on a goal and realizing that your mind is what holds you back, not your body. My friend Alison's go-to phrase in Ironman training is "Forward is a Pace" and I find applications for that mantra almost every day.


Often I find myself in conversations with people about how I got to where I am today. I don't solicit this, because really I am still a little awkward about discussing it and the attention it brings. In my mind, it really isn't so special - anyone could do it if they were in the right frame of mind. But, with that said, if someone wants to pick my brain or find motivation, I want to encourage others to achieve for themselves. People ask how much weight I lost. When I respond with the truth - 185 pounds lost initially- I start to hear the excuses. They say "I could never do that because (insert reason)..." They ask about my training, then tell me how they could never do that because they have bad knees, bad backs, asthma, smoke too much, smoked too many years, or any other of a variety of "I can'ts."


I struggle for the right responses to this. It seems rude to tell them to stop making excuses, but really that is what I feel would be in their best interests, someone to shock them into changing their frame of reference. My response is often that it's not so special, anyone could do it if they put their mind to it..... and I honestly believe it's true.


So for the future, I think my advice will be to change your vocabulary. You aren't on a diet, you are changing your lifestyle. You aren't training for an event, you are training for your life. You need to take "can't", couldn't", and "never" out of your vocabulary, it closes your mind and only holds you back from your possibilities. Change the way you look at things - think about how you could make something happen, not about how you could NEVER make something happen.


You can't run? Fine, then walk. Can't walk? Stroll! Can't stroll? Then crawl. Can't swim laps? Do the dog paddle, go water walking, or whatever. Do what you can and make the most of it, the only thing holding you back is your mind telling you to stop, or worse that you shouldn't even start. it's a in your head and how you think about things.


You've got to start somewhere so it might as well be here.


5 comments:

Dan Seifring said...

Great read Jenny, keep up the great work.

NursAdrn said...

So true, Jenny.

Your talking about "I can't" reminded me of something my daughter used to say a long time ago. When Savannah was two, she used to say "I can't wanna". That is about what we sound like when we start the "I can't" conversation.

Courage doesn't always roar. Keep it moving forward, because forward IS a finish.

cindy said...

I really like this :)

I think all that you've achieved IS special though. Reaching your goals and changing your thinking are no small feats. I'm finding, too, that the mental stuff is much harder than the physical...and the mind is a powerful thing.

Thanks for sharing this...you are very motivating!!

Jenny Davidson said...

Good post!

Iron "GeekGirl" Misty said...

I like to ask people, well then, can you walk fast? Most people can't say no to that. Then comes the excuse about time. So then I say, "can you walk for 30 minutes? Is there a show you can skip on TV to do that?" It's more useful, for me, to confront the "I can't" because just maybe they'll call BS on themselves.


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