A Challenge Worthy of You
I’m finally starting to be successful at the largest challenge of my life: losing weight and becoming healthy. After years of trying all sorts of diets, exercise routines and – let’s face it – ignoring the problem altogether, I was beginning to doubt myself. What if I just don’t have what it takes to live healthy? It turns out that what I was missing was a challenge worthy of me.
About two and a half months ago, I sat down and had a little think with myself. What is it going to take to finally overcome this lifelong, epic battle with weight? I’ve been seeing a dietician for some time, and she’s essentially been feeding me the same advice, over and over again. Yet I haven’t been following it.
It’s far from complicated: choose fresh fruit and vegetables first, fill that in with proteins like fish, eggs, dairy, legumes and nuts (I don’t eat beef or chicken, which – alongside by total loathing of country music – must certainly mean that I am the worst Albertan ever). Then, and only then, should I begin to look at the carbs, like breads, cereals and pasta. Her nutritional advice was reasonable. My cravings and irrational treats were not.
But I know that I can stick to a commitment once I’ve made it, especially if that commitment involves money. So I outlined a simple yet clear eating and exercise regimen and I made a bet with myself: keep the plan for ten months, and I can take myself on a $1000 shopping spree. However, if I cheat on any of my firm rules, I must immediately take that $1000 and donate it to charity.
I’ve been told I’m crazy. I’ve been told I’m admirable. I don’t really care what others think; I just know that this is something that I believe will work for me.
Why ten months? This should be more than enough time to get me to my goal weight. It’s also a long enough period that I’ll be able to embody the changes I know will need to be lifelong. I’ll finally learn the discipline I never did when I was younger.
I’ve shied away from longer challenges in the past. I thought I ‘knew’ that longer time frames usually set people up to fail. Well, it’s time to be wrong again. What I’ve found is that this challenge is an enormously long time to focus, stay disciplined and work hard, but it’s actually really not. I’ve graduated from University; that was four years. I don’t remember much of it, especially the educational part, but I seem to recall that it was hard too. I survived.
This challenge is way more exciting to me. I’ve been taking pictures of myself, comparing the progress. I daydream about the final results (as well as all of the clothes I’m going to buy with my $1000!) But more importantly, I’ve been feeling challenged. This is no walk in the park. I have to really try to keep all of my rules for the next seven and a half months.
“I know a man who believes that he has a brave heart, but he’s never been sufficiently challenged to know if this is true.” This line resonated with me intensely, even though it was said of the pilot who would eventually accept the 1996 challenge to rescue climber Beck Weathers from Mount Everest, far above what any other helicopter pilot would feel comfortable flying (Beck Weathers, Left for Dead. Dell Publishing: New York, NY, 2000.)
I don’t think we challenge ourselves nearly enough these days. I believe it’s a major oversight on our part. We seem afraid to struggle, to fight for things. We have this idea that we need to remove obstacles from every path we choose.
I believe obstacles are going to occur no matter what. They’re a part of life. They’re the part that shows us what is most important to us. When we press on, despite these obstacles, we reveal to ourselves what we believe is truly worth fighting for.
They also show us what we’re made of. Like that helicopter pilot, we sometimes need a challenge large enough to show us what we’re capable of accomplishing. We don’t get that everyday, and we usually don’t get it without making a conscious decision.
Too often, for my liking anyway, we make a conscious decision to avoid these challenges. We’ve built industries upon saving our children from every possible hardship. We’ve essentially robbed them from the opportunity to learn how awesome they can be. But we forget that challenges are inevitable; we just have the opportunity to choose our challenges or take the ones that will pursue us.
If you’re not feeling accomplished, triumphant and just plain awesome in your life, perhaps you just haven’t chosen a challenge worthy of you.
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