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Nov 25, 2011

Do Little Tiny Mini Goals Matter?

Last weekend I was reading a chapter in the book Aspire by Kevin Hall.  He was telling a story about a quadriplegic who had decided he was going to do something quite extraordinary; Ride a hand tricycle 513 miles from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.  The quest starts out quite euphoric with everyone cheering him on, but it wore on for hours and hours, the cheering crowd was gone and the tasks became much more difficult for many reasons.  His hands had to be taped to the bars to keep them going.  Temperature variations from the low riding hand tricycle from the pavement didn't help a body unable to regulate temperature well.  Lots of obstacles were thrown in his way.  In the middle of the night, as he cycled away, with difficult terrain amongst a host of other problems, he was going about 2 miles an hour and struggling.  His father checked in with him.  He suggested that instead of counting the mile markers as a measure of his progress, why doesn't he count the yellow lines in the middle of the road?  They come by much more quickly.  He did just that and managed to finally make it into Vegas.

While I did find the story interesting and somewhat inspirational, it didn't click with me until a couple of days later.  I was traveling for work and spending the night at a hotel in St. George.  I had decided that since I couldn't work out that day, I would go to the hotel gym and do my best.  Due to a "bone on bone" knee situation, I'm supposed to use the machines that go up and down with your feet and caused no impact on the knee (sorry I don't know what they are called), rather than a regular treadmill.  I got on the machine and found that the weight pressure required for each step was set too high.  I couldn't figure out how to adjust the level/tension/pressure the machine required with each step.  I am a person who walks 3 miles an hour, when I walk.  Yet here I was on this machine struggling like the dickens to walk 1.5 miles an hour.  That's how slow I was walking.

As time moved on, I was becoming very fatigued and ready to just hop off.  Normally, I would have maybe lasted 10 minutes and decided it was too much.  However, due to the lessons I learned last week during Hell Week at Boot Camp, I knew I needed to do more.  I couldn't just quit and give up.  There were no other machines of this type, so I was a little stuck.  As I watched the tenths of a miles markers on the display, thinking, "Gosh, I'm struggling, I can't believe I need off after slightly over .50 of a mile."

All of a sudden, I remembered the story about the quadriplegic man riding his hand bike 513 miles, and reading about all the struggles and obstacles that came to him.   He struggled to reach his goal.  Then he started counting the yellow lines in the road, since they came more often than miles markers.   I decided to apply that same kind of logic here.  I really didn't want to quit at all, before I got at least a mile in.  I thought, Why not count down on the display that would go from .50, to .51 to .52 and etc?  I would challenge myself to get to the next number.  When the number changed, my challenge began again, to stay on until I reached the next number again.  So it went minute by minute, or half minute by half minute of  'little tiny goals'.  For example, at .69 I challenged myself to make it to .70, then to .71, then to .72.  This continued on until I finally reached my ultimate goal 1.00, the complete mile!  It took me 45 minutes to do that mile, and it was the hardest mile I'd ever done.  I was elated (and also dripping with sweat!), when 45 minutes after I began, I was able to get off the machine with the display at 1.00 and my full mile completed.

This hotel workout gave me a clarity of understanding of one of the lessons the author of my book may have been trying to get across.  Yes, when the task is hard and difficult; you need to not only set a big overall goal, but you need to set little tiny mini goals when the task is so hard/overwhelming that you don't feel you can do it.  I was able to understand thoroughly how counting the yellow stripes in the middle of the road kept the quadriplegic man cycling all the way to the end and reaching the goal he had set out to achieve.

As I reflected on the lesson I was internalizing.  I realized that I had "sort of" done the same thing once before in my life.  When I set out in 2005 at 387 lbs, to loose weight, I did have an "end weight" I was trying to achieve.  However, I never once allowed myself to think in terms of how many more pounds I had to lose, and then be overwhelmed.  Instead, I chose to weigh with my back to the scale, and only to have them tell me how much weight I lost that week.  I'd celebrate the week, and add it to the total......all the way to my goal.  I realized that in a different way, I'd broken off a huge chunk by looking at it in little tiny increments, week by week and celebrating each week.  Just like I broke the mile down by little increments and celebrated internally that I was still going for it as the numbers every so slowly crept upward.

Nov 19, 2011

The Ingredients of Determination

As I mentioned in a previous post, I survived Hell Week.  I'm still absorbing some of the lessons that I learned this week.  As I ponder today, I think one of the most important ones I'm pondering on is that of determination.

There are many times where I've had desire to make a change, but done nothing.  I've always known that I'm the kind of person who once I set my mind to something, it will be done.  (Note my journey that made it possible to lose 238 lbs)  The problem was, how do I make myself move beyond desire and into determination?  I'd spend a lot of time not doing anything towards that which I wanted, just because the desire didn't move towards determination.

This week, I followed through on a desire to begin to have another tool to help me to lose the weight I gained and be able to maintain weight loss easier.  Because I've often wondered what was lacking in making me "determined", my senses as to what's happening were particularly acute as I pondered what exactly happened that allowed me to be determined for a change.  Therefore, I've come up with what I believe are some of the key ingredients necessary to move from desire to determination and actually achieving what you want.

The ingredients of determination are 1) smacking down and not allowing any negative thoughts to begin 2) being positive about and envisioning what my outcome will be and the goals I can meet by doing this thing,  and 3) making no excuses.  Mix those together, you have developed a batter I will call  "focus".  With this new focus of the mind, you are suddenly able to just  "find a way to make it possible" and you achieve the impossible! 

When the negative thoughts starts, I immediately stop it and counteract it by saying, "I'm going to do it"  I won't allow my mind to start the train of thoughts that would allow myself to begin thinking about all the obstacles and being scared of it or what not.  I would instead envision meeting the goals that I so wanted to meet, and be so hopeful that my newest endeavor would lead me there.  I've come to realize recently that I am the "queen of excuses" which has been to my detriment time and time again.  Yet, when it comes to getting determination, I won't even accept an excuse.  It shows me that I do have it within myself to stop the excuses, because I've proved I know how to do it.  As I thought about the mindset that I acquire when I'm not allowing negativity or excuses, and building positivity; I realized that my brain is now focused on what I'm planning to achieve.  With that focus, I just can't help but succeed and achieve what it is I want.  It is that focus that says, "find a way to make it possible".

For example, if I wasn't determined to do boot camp, it's something I typically would've said, 1) It's too expensive, I can't afford it and 2) I don't have the time, my schedule is too unpredictable and  not in my control every day.  However, because I was determined, those never even entered my mind.  Each time the problems came up, I just figured out how to solve it.  I figured out where to get the money, in the beginning to afford it.  Then as I started the daily work outs, I had to make a lot of extra effort to make it fit in my schedule.  In addition, I went to my colleague that schedules all our our team appointments, and told her that for the rest of the year, if she has to make appointments that won't get me back in time to work out before it closes (and I gave her a specific time), that she needs to make sure that she doesn't start out morning appointments before a specific time that would allow me to get in and do the morning work outs.  I was focused, so I didn't anticipate or dwell on the difficulties.  I just did what I wanted to, and then found a way to solve each issue that arose.  Wow!  Eye opening to realize that.

I've also found determination just in trying to complete all the specific difficult exercises I'm give, for the number of reps required.  Instead of saying, "I can't" which I would do without determination, I'd say to myself, "I will".  When I had no breath left (lung damage coupled with 30 lbs added to the burden on my lungs) and the instructor would check in to see if I was OK, instead of saying I can't because (and I had a GOOD reason), I said, "I'm OK, I'm just catching my breath, and I'll continue until I finish.  Determination.

I'm really grateful for the lesson I'm learning about determination.  I think these is something I will need to revisit again and again.  I know there are new goals and desires I have.  If I allow myself to go down my usual path, it's unlikely I'll achieve them.  I will always need to think about what is happening internally.  Am I allowing negativity?  Am I not envisioning reaching the goal and being positive?  Am I making excuses?  If the answer is yes, then of course I'll know that is why I have no focus.  I've got a recipe for helping myself to get back on track now!  I'm grateful for this new awareness!  Now it's Happy trails as I continue to embark on my recent journeys! :) 


Nov 18, 2011

I Survived!

It was a windy, dark and cold morning,  6:00 a.m. to be exact.  Bundled up in long johns, a turtle neck, fleece sweater, a coat, a pair of pants, 3 socks and gloves, I arrived for my last Hell week workout.  I was quickly outfitted with a 30 lb vest, and paint streaks (to resemble either mud or war paint?) were put on my face.  I joined a company of 20 some odd people at attention, waiting for the orders and instructions to follow. 

I'm the woman who would never wake up at 5:00 a.m. for anything.  On top of that, I would NEVER wake up early to exercise of all things.  Yet, here I was, a 54 year old, formerly obese 387 lb, oxygen tank dependent woman, doing something I never in my wildest dreams would have pictured myself doing.  Our workout ended just as it was starting to get a little light on the top of a little hill in the park with 65 situps.  After those were finished, I was surprised with a little ceremony for the three of us there, who were finishing up Hell Week.  Music of some sort was played (have no idea what type, as I had my hearing devices off to prevent sweating all over them) as everyone stood at attention.  I suppose it was something military.  The Boot camp instructors were lined up facing the "new recruits",   After the music, the leader walked over and awarded us the above dog tag.  I photographed both sides for your viewing pleasure! :) 

One by one, each of the instructors from each of the different "companies/locations", walked in front of me, congratulated me and shook my hand in this ceremony.  Little ole' me!  Many of the 20 odd strangers came and congratulated me.  Suddenly, I was quite proud and realized that it really was an accomplishment.  I had made a decision to do something entirely out of my comfort zone, and persevered no matter how tough and difficult it was.  I actually did 5 straight days of intense, rigorous workouts, with 30 lbs strapped to my vest, and was outside on a cold winter morning at 6:00 a.m. doing the last one.  I felt such a sense of achievement to get this dog tag. I feel already that this is going to be a treasured possession.

As I look at it, I realize it now symbolizes and embodies a wealth of lessons I learned for the first time, as well as lessons, re-learned.  It reminds me of the strong woman who earned it.  I can always continue to change my life, re-new myself and my spirit.  I'm never to old, too out-of-shape, too anything to embark on new journeys.

I can't wait to see what the next 5 weeks bring me. I have a vision of a strong, confident woman, walking into the future believing in herself, keeping her priorities straight, exploring her dreams and knowing, her potential is limitless and living her best life. 

Nov 14, 2011

H -E - Double Hocky Sticks Week

It's been a long, long time since I wrote about the weight loss journey that you see documented in the layout of the blog.  The truth is, that since reaching my goal weight a couple of years ago, I've struggled to  maintain my weight.  I've gained a few pounds, which is enough to unnerve me significantly.  I have kept perspective and realized that though I've gained a few pounds, I've not given up the fight.  I've still continued my weekly visits to Jenny Craig for support.  My mindset has not been what it needs to be and I've cheated enough to be in this situation. 

As I've searched and struggled to get my mind fully in the game, I hit upon a "possible solution".  What did I do?  I've joined Boot Camp!  I figured this intense 6 week physical program, might be the next step I need to take.  Today, I started my first week, which is known as "Hell Week".  After my first workout tonight, I now know why.

Holy Cow!  First they put a 30 lb vest on that you have to wear to work out in during Hell Week.  When you gain weight, a little at a time, you never notice it coming on, except I did start to notice that there's a little too much stress on my knee, that used to not be there before.  However, when 30 lbs is strapped to your chest all at once, you realize as you go through a super demanding workout, drastically out of shape, what a burden extra weight is.  For me, having that weight pressing on my chest, was really difficult for my lungs.  When I weighed over 200 lbs more than I do now, I couldn't do anything without my oxygen tank strapped to me.  I realized instantly tonight how the weight effects my lungs.  I think the lesson is starting to sink into  my stubborn mindset that I've had for a while.  The mind set that said, 4 1/2 years of losing weight, you deserve to take it easy and not work so hard.  Now I'm starting to see that maybe the work never lets up.

I'd recently come to the realization that if you're not moving forward, you're moving backward.  Ever so subtly, and quite unnoticeable I've been moving backwards.  I was realizing this recently, in terms of personal growth.  Now I'm starting to click onto the fact that this lesson applies physically as well.  What I really hoped would happen with boot camp, is that I'd get enough exercise that the little slips food-wise that I like to enjoy, would be burned off.  I know that if I'm more physically active, I'll do better at maintaining weight.  However, after just the first day of Boot Camp in Hell Week, I'm starting to realize there are other lessons I need to learn and re-learn as well.

The first jolt was to realize what a burden gaining weight is.  I DON'T want to ever go back to that person.  As I do the physically demanding work out for the next 4 days (including 6 a.m. in the park workout scheduled for a cold winter Friday morning this week), carting around my 30 lb vest that I'd suddenly gained; I think my mindset is going to really change to what it needs to be.  I can feel myself getting that change already, on Day 1. 

Another lesson learned today, was how deep my determination really does run.  I've always known that once I set my mind to something, nothing stops me.  The problem I have at times, is that I don't always "set my mind" to what I want.  I just kind of pussy foot around it and say I want this or that, but I don't steel myself to work for what it is I want.  Tonight as I struggled to breathe, struggled to complete the number of reps required for each task; there were a couple of times I found myself really digging deep.  I WAS going to complete it, no matter what it took.  It was a nice reminder of what really is down deep in the core of my being.  I will probably get more "experience" in digging deep for my determination this week. 

There's other things that I'm working on for personal growth, in addition to this Boot Camp for physical growth, I will make those subjects for a future blog.  One of the interesting things is that at a point in our workout, we are to say that "P.T. Lovell requests more P.T.  Thank you for conditioning my mind and my body".  I thought it was silly when I first learned I'd have to memorize this to say tonight.  However, I really am understanding the meanings behind it.  First of all, being positive, and asking for more workout, is really a way to prevent you from saying, "Oh, this is too much, I can't do it", but rather say and think something more empowering.  This and several other small things that were done tonight, in addition to the 30 lb. vests, made me realize that there really is some conditioning of the mind going on as well.  I NEED that conditioning of both my mind and body!

So wish me well folks.  While I've sadly neglected my blog more often than not over the last couple of years, I've now resolved that I will be returning to writing more frequently, as I once did when I was on the initial weight loss journey a few years back.  Part of the writing my blog is therapeutic.  It helps me to sort through the things I'm learning, as well as gives me clarity of thought.  You have to clear your thoughts, before you are able to clearly communicate what is in your head.  Check back weekly, I'm resolving to write at least that often! :)