Tips 3 &4: Building a better you

DISCLAIMER: All of these tips I’ve been writing about, I use all of the time. Just because I have been able to accomplish some of my goals, doesn’t meant that I also don’t really struggle with commitment and getting out of bed. All to say, we are in this together!

Tip 3: Be a good friend—to others and yourself.

This may seem like an unusual suggestion when referring to fitness, but I’m including this little tip because recognizing the value of being a good friend has been the most life-changing realization of my life. And, because the inspiration for this blog is solely women and I have largely dedicated this space to women as a result, I know the importance of women supporting each other through every aspect of life, including fitness. Having a great support system of friends can make all the difference in our personal success. Or, at the very least, it can make our experience that much more enjoyable!

As I have moved through life, I have been unquestionably blessed with the most amazing girlfriends (starting with my sis…love you Les!). I was given my first group of girlfriends when I was 12. I use the word “given” because I did nothing to earn the relationships. They just loved me and showed me how fun friends are. But, over the years, I have been challenged as a friend, and I have learned that I have had many moments of not living up to the word. So, when I was 20, “Be a good friend” made the life list, and I have had the past 10 years or so to figure out what that meant exactly…still working on the details!

Most of us probably have those people or friends in our life that will call it like they see it, so to speak. You know who I’m talking about: the girl who is going to tell you when you look really tired, make a negative comment on a skirt maybe she doesn’t like, or just sort of go out of her way to make you feel a little crummy. I mean, not super crummy. Just a little crummy. For years I took these comments in stride, because I thought my sensitivity was more of a character flaw. I now know that it is not a flaw; it is my sensitivity to women being negative to other women. So now I no longer take those comments in stride. In fact, I feel much more confident about saying something. Someone told me once, “That’s just my personality. That’s who I am. I’m blunt.” Well, I am here to say no, it is not your personality. It is a bad habit and it’s mean. No one needs to hear that they look like crap or the joke they told was not funny. I mean, why do we think it’s okay to make women feel bad? And, no, telling what you consider to be the “truth” about the “ugly” skirt does not make you an amazing, honest person; it makes you an asshole.

So why bring this up here? I bring it up because, throughout my life, I have realized that the way I treat others is a direct reflection of the way I treat myself, and the way I treat myself, no doubt, infiltrates every aspect of my life. If you find yourself being overly critical and judgmental towards others, you may want to start becoming more aware of how you talk to yourself. And, yes, it may be hard at first not to say that “harmless” comment you want to, but ask yourself, “Is this helpful?”

So the challenge is seeing the best in yourself, and choosing to see the best even when you feel the worst. You’ll no doubt treat yourself and others better. Be good to yourself this year and give yourself a break…also give other women a break. We go through enough challenges. Lets start this year off with a lot less negativity and a lot more love!

Tip 4: Be uncomfortable and LOVE it!

In today’s technology-crazed society, we are constantly overwhelmed with ease and comfort. The ease of seamless… one click and amazing food can be at your door in minutes, buying anything and everything online, no longer is there a need to even leave the house, or, my favorite, the comfort of heated car seats. So, as we are programmed to appreciate, love, and become dependent on the ease of life, I believe we have made the dire mistake of equating ease with happiness. For centuries we have looked at the rich as the most fortunate due to the fact that everything they have and do is just easier (this is actually far more complicated, obviously, looking at power and privilege, but, for this entry, let’s just dumb it down a bit). The big, unfortunate part of the ease and comfortable craze is the fact that without challenge, our soul becomes weak.

Recently, I have been obsessed with Richard Roll’s podcast. It is a really great way to spend time listening to people trying to do what we’re doing now—be the best, most authentic person that we can be. I have spent much time thinking about the times in my life that have been a complete struggle, and the words and actions I took in order to survive those difficult moments. The moments when I was desperate, depressed, and could not dream myself out of the dark pit, are the moments that have defined my character. When you have traveled to such low points, you learn what you need to do to get out, and those lessons are not limited to the bottomless pit. Rather, those lessons carry over to every challenge in your life. Soon, you’re surprised at how easily you persevere through things that were once unthinkable. That brings us back full-circle to the this topic: Is easier and comfortable really better?

Take my last ultra marathon for example. Sometimes I catch myself talking about the facts of the run and they go a bit like this: you get up really early, nervous about the task at hand, eat a bit of something, and try to prepare mentally. Then you arrive at the start, it is freezing and made even colder by nerves, and you see all of these people and become super intimidated. You run and run and run. Sometimes you feel sick, and you know you’re hungry, but only sometimes do you actually feel like you want to eat, even though you eat all the time. You get lost in your mind and go places that you want to avoid, but you cannot escape them because there are no distractions when you’re running 100 miles. It’s hot, your feet hurt, you feel fulfilled and lonely all at the same time, and you start to question your purpose. You’re cold, then freezing, and starving, but nauseated, feeling desperate, hopeless, and lost (sometimes literally). You think you would be happy doing anything else; your thoughts consume you and you just want to quit. Very rarely are there actual times of enjoyment. Mostly, it is moment to moment. You want to cry and be pissed and scream. And then you finish; it’s small but amazing, and that’s the run.

Hearing this, speaking this, and writing this, I have to ask myself why in the world I would ever do this or want to do it again. Overall, the answer is simple: we find ourselves in our struggles—those moments of deep desperation, when life does not seem worth it. Moving beyond the run, I have had many of those moments myself. Life is hard. But when life is hard, we must ask ourselves, “But who am I?” YOU are a person that can persevere, and you are a person that will surprise yourself by the power you hold within. You owe it to yourself to unlock this power. We were not born weak. We have succumbed to weakness through ease and a desire for comfort. But remember, you know you’re alive through your struggles, and you know you are amazing when you’re uncomfortable, but still smiling and determined. You have it in you. Don’t underestimate yourself. Cry, laugh, be pissed, curse, throw things, but do it. Don’t rip yourself off. You’re a strong woman; show yourself what we already know.

This year when you write your list of goals, commit to one thing that scares the crap out of you. In the next post we’ll explore how you’re going to get it done!

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