Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Writing Prompt Day 4: What is One Thing You're Proud Of?

LOL Another toot your own horn topic.

I could talk about graduating with honors in my degree field, or earning the specialist certificate. I could talk about all the work I did getting a new software system validated and ready to use at work. I could even touch on teaching myself to play flute, knit or crochet, or how much I have grown in my singing by being part of a praise team at church.

But I think I want to talk about winning the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle 2016 Holiday Challenge.

What makes me most proud is not that I won, although that IS pretty darn cool! What I am proud of is what I learned in the process.

My trainer and I had talked about it. I was content to participate. I did want to do well, for sure, but at first never thought about even trying to win. Before it started, he challenged my thought processes by suggesting what he believed was an easily doable rate of fat burn. I PANICKED!

I’m not kidding. I was terrified. Heart racing, full blown panic. And I did not react well to that pressure.

I honestly did not believe that was possible for me. I had mentally put myself in the “slow-burner” category because I hadn’t not done well the time I participated before. I was positive I would be LUCKY if I managed an average 0.5% because I hadn’t even done that before. And he thought I could do 1% a week!! No. Way.

But I’ve been through some rough patches in life, and needed counseling to help me through. Because of that long-ago experience, I recognized that my very strong emotional reaction was trying to tell me something. I knew it wasn’t really the 1%. There was a deeper issue going on and I needed to figure out what that was.

I journaled. I prayed. I bawled. But eventually I figured out what was really holding me back – I didn’t believe I was worth the effort it would take. I was also limiting my success by using my past “failure” as a measure of the best I could do.

I started with a mantra to remind myself I AM worth the effort; put it on my keychain, wrote it on the mirrors in my home that I used every day, and said it to myself often. Maybe I didn’t fully believe I could meet his goal for me, but why not see how good I COULD do? So I also changed the mental tape. Instead of “hoping for 0.5%/week”, I reworded to “I will burn an average of at LEAST 0.5%/week”. I opened myself up to the possibility that maybe I could better than I thought.

I started to believe I could win, and said as much to my trainer. But limited myself again with “but I’m not going to put that pressure on myself”.

His reply? “NO! Put that pressure on yourself! If you think you can win, WHY NOT go for it?”

Suddenly, I wasn’t just going to participate in this challenge, I was going to win. He called it. And yes, I did.

Why is this important?

I have always been confident of my academic abilities. That wasn’t a challenge for me. I knew I needed to do well, I knew I could do well, and I did. I learned a lot academically, but I didn’t ever step outside my comfort zone.

And that, friends, is where true growth occurs.

This challenge was a whole new world for me. I had to practice skills I wasn’t sure I had (nutrition) and do something different I didn’t like (plan and even prepare meals in advance). Most of all, I had to STOP the destructive limiting beliefs and negative self-talk.

My parents had books by Norman Vincent Peale, Jay Van Andel, Rich DeVos, Dale Carnegie, and many others when I was growing up. You would think with all that positive thinking I would have learned that lesson well at a young age. But here I was, over 50, still needing to grow in that area.

I drew on my old experience in another way, too. I had not, in the past, felt like I had support in efforts to live a healthier lifestyle. I had allowed my spouse to drag me down with his efforts to sabotage me because it felt easier. (In reality, that was just to avoid conflict. It wasn’t easier in the long run.) I no longer had that negative influence, but I knew there was someone, somewhere who felt like I had before. Someone felt like they had no one in their corner; no one supporting them. So I decided to do what I could to change that! I took full advantage of something Tom Venuto, the BFFM author, calls the “5th Element”. I dove into the challenge threads, finding people who seemed to need someone, anyone to say “hey, hang in there” or “you’re doing well, keep going”. I made every effort to not just say some banal, meaningless “you got this”, I tried to find something I could point out that they were doing well.

I focused on someone else.  In the process, time flew by. I enjoyed the challenge and had FUN! Most important, I learned that I was limiting myself, but I could change that.

One of the things that drew me to Live your Legend was that I am in the process of trying to figure out what life “after retirement” will look like. I know what I don’t want, but I’m trying to figure out exactly what I do want. As a writer, the double negative of doing what you “can’t NOT do” makes me want to reach for a red pen. LOL But at the same time, I am drawn to the idea that whatever I do after I retire, it can be something I love so much my enthusiasm is contagious.

Because of what I learned about self-limiting beliefs, I have new mantra now. I am open to amazing possibilities, and I am worth the time and effort it takes to turn those possibilities into realities.

I may not yet have a clear, vivid image of exactly what that “something” will be. But I know two things. One: I know it’s already started happening. I know that I am building on what I have already learned and that this new knowledge will become the foundation of even further growth. Two: I know whatever it is, it will be AMAZING! And I am excited about that!

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