Outlandish Goals

Without a big goal, I get lazy. (Even with a big goal, I get lazy... more on that later) But I need big goals, ones that kind of freak me out to get me motivated.  This is especially true for running or general exercise.  I like the idea of being the type of person who can show up any given weekend for a marathon and do it no problem, but that takes a lot of work.  So last year I came up with an idea for myself.

I was training for a 50k and as I was putting together my training plan, I noticed my 26 mile run was going to fall right around my 26th birthday.  So I thought, "Hey, would ya look at that, a mile for every year."  I did it, and I liked it, so I thought this would be a good goal to help me maintain the lifestyle of a runner.  The older I get, the more sure I have to be to stay in shape.

A week ago today was my birthday which means a day of celebration and a day of running.  This isn't a new idea, people have done this before me but it's very compelling to me.  They say a male is at his peak athletic ability at age 27, I don't want to miss this year of my life by sitting on a couch somewhere wishing I was the person who could go out and run a good distance, no problem.  So I did 27 miles this year, not nearly as good of shape as I was in last year, but it was still fun and rewarding.  You can check out my run by clicking HERE

Dream big, make outlandish goals, then do them.  It's much more exciting for me to do that, than to making sure I have watched the season premiere of Breaking Bad and its my guess that it's much more exciting for you too.

What are your outlandish goals?

Just Another Day

7-11-13 is just another day, nothing too special about it, unless you like free slushies from 711, then its an awesome day.  Other than that, today is just another day... or is it.  The fact is that everyday is what we make of it.  We have the ability to do anything we want to do with our day, yet we often forget that fact.  Sometimes, we can get into a rut that determines our day for us.  For instance, our mind says, "Thursday, wake up, put on pants, go to work, come home, relax..."  Our minds are always looking for the shortest, easiest way to get through any and every situation in life.  This, will lead to extreme boredom and possibly even depression.

Confuse your mind, play a trick on it today.  It will tell you, "Relax, you deserve to watch TV for 3 hours because of that hard work you put in today." But if you do something that it doesn't expect, like going for a walk or reading a book or doing one of those hobbies that often get neglected, your brain wont get mad at you, it will thank you.  It will say, "OH! well I guess it wasn't just another day after all... what does tomorrow have in store?"


There are a million reasons why you can't.  
Focus on the few reasons that you can.
- Kara Goucher

Feeling the weight of this quotable fact today.  It's raining, kind of cold, "I need to enjoy my day off," my mind tells me, yet this sort of thinking gets me no closer to my goals as a runner.

Reasons why I should run today:
- I won't melt if I get wet.
- I have cold weather gear.
- Running is enjoyable, so I should do what I enjoy on my day off.
- It's not snowing, get outside!
- I will be more energized afterward.
- I will be making progress on my goals as a runner.

What are your excuses holding you back from exercise today?  Answer that, then forget them.  Give yourself an excuse to exercise today!

Enemy Within

Beware of noman more than yourself;
we carryour worst enemies within us.
- CharlesH. Spurgeon

The enemy within knows everything about us.  Our failures, fears and faults.  We have shared the deepest mostintimate parts of our soul with him. He stands at the edge of our sub-consciousness and declares what choiceswe should make.  We can make nomove with his consultation.  Mostof us walk through life, not realizing the grasp of his power, which enslavesus.  His voice is so ingrained, sofamiliar and so comforting, that we seldom think about another way.

This is a mysterious force yet when I talk aboutit with people, they understand it, because we have all experienced it.  It’s the part of us that seems to minimalizeour success and magnify our failures. It drives us to be better then tells us that we should stop because ourefforts will never add up.  “Whoare you to question me?” it demands, and our obedience is almostimmediate. 

“You want to get into shape? Go to church? Makenew friends? Change for the better?” it questions.  Then reminds us of all the times we have tried and failed inthe past.  Quite simply the enemywithin explains how there is comfort found in much simpler pursuits.  “Put it off, watch some more TV, thereis no harm in that.” “Sleep in, you can go to the gym tomorrow morning, you hada rough day yesterday, you deserve the extra sleep.”  He hides his deception in words that sound like he has yourback.

This is not the voice of a friend, yet we listenwillingly. 

There is another voice, calling ever sofaintly. 

It says, “You can change! Go for your dreams! Youare strong!”

Feed that voice.
Starve your doubt.
Start living your life!

Getting Through Winter

In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
- Albert Camus

Change is among us.  The long bleak winter has fought its last battle and the remnants of that occurrence are too scarce to even prove it happened.  The birds are coming back; little sparrows and red bellied Robins.  The squirrels playfully run through the trees, chasing one another.  The days are getting longer, the air is getting warmer and we know that spring will be here soon. 

As we all know, different periods in our lives are often referred as seasons.  Read through the descriptions and try to identify where you are.  Being able to see what season you are in is a good way to identify ways to move to a better season or reinforce attributes to keep you in there.

Feeling very content and satisfied in your life. Each passing day is more or less carefree. Working out and eating healthy are done without a second thought.

Perhaps things are going well but the signs of change are obvious; a child getting ready to go off to school, a loved one coming to the end of their life or perhaps a marriage is starting to become more strenuous by each passing day.  Our discipline to fitness is slipping and we start to remember how much we love chocolate chip cookies for breakfast.

A very difficult time in life.  Nothing seems to be going right; you feel lonely, depressed, anxious and/or scared.  The gym is being passed up for more sleep and the daily consumption of food is a good reminder why heart disease is the biggest killer in America.  During those times, its good to remember this: you don't have to say in winter forever, start making changes now!

The day-to-day difficulties are starting to feel more manageable.  Decision-making comes with less anxiety.  The desire for healthy food and a good workout stir deep (for some its very very very deep, but it's there) within you.  Take full advantage of those quiet desires to make healthy choices because they can do much more for our overall well-being than we can really give credit to.

No matter the season you find yourself in right now, you have the ability to make improvements.  If you are in a summer season, set lofty goals, dream big.  You can achieve much in summer seasons!  If you are in a winter season, set small goals that can easily be obtained.  Reaching small goals in the winter of life is a great way to get that feeling of spring.

Don't let winter make decisions for you, take action.

The Key: Identify attributes of your "summer," then do those things! Continuing to do autumn things will eventually lead to winter, but continually doing winter things doesn't always lead to spring.

Mr. Snowman, defies winter by
 moving to the warmer climate.

Boosting Your Emotional Immunity

For many years now, science has been trying to separate objects down to their atoms in order to get a better understanding of how things work.  Even an atom isn't just an atom anymore because they are made of protons, neutrons and electrons.  I wish I could stop there but science demands we divide the neutrons and protons down even further into quarks and gluons.

When scientists breakdown an atom like this, it really helps in understanding how the atom works.  Applying this logic to humanity would mean that the more we separate a man, the better we can understand him.  But does breaking down a human into separate parts really help us to understand a person better?  Can we say that one is made of the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual?  We can in the sense that the four aspects are evident, distinct and identifiable.  There is no doubt some overlap but how much and have we been underestimating the connection between the four realms of a person?

I came across an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice that strongly demonstrates overlap of the physical and emotional.  In fact, the correlation between exercise and decreased anxiety and/or depression was so strong that introducing exercise in a clinical setting was be advisable in many cases.  Pilates everyday keeps the shrink away... (Sorry, I'll have to work on that).

This was one study of many that report these same findings.  The world of western health care is starting to embrace the mind/body connection more readily as of recent years.  As more and more research comes out, there surely will be more "prescribing" of exercise along with traditional treatments in order to deal with various mental health issues as well as physical ailments.

I'll be the first one to admit it, when my life gets stressful and busy, the first thing in my routine that gets cut is exercise.  It's as if I need that time I would have been running to worry about what all is going on in my life.  If we would only take the time to continue exercising through whatever life circumstances, we would be able to enjoy the benefits of decreased anxiety and depression.

Friends Michael and Dylan in CO hiking up Mount Sopris.
 Hiking is one of my favorite forms of exercise.
Definitely hard to be stressed on a trip like this! 

Friend Jagen crossing the finish at the  
Stump Jump 50k in Chattanooga TN
Accomplishing physical goals = emotional bliss :-)

Name your physicial activity of choice.

Stathopoulou, G., Powers, M. B., Berry, A. C., Smits, J. A. J. and Otto, M. W. (2006), Exercise Interventions for Mental Health: A Quantitative and Qualitative Review. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 13: 179–193.

Take Captive Every Thought

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."  
Winston Churchill

Just as much as we humans are what we eat, we are what we think.  Eat junk, feel like junk.  Think junk, be junk.  I have never met a person who talks (or thinks) negatively about themselves and also has a positive outlook on life.

We all have a tape player in our mind, endlessly looping a stream of conscious (and even more dangerously unconscious) thoughts.  If we find ourselves feeling down or anxious, it's really important in those moments to step back, be quiet and examine our thoughts.  Often times, those thoughts aren't quite true.  That's not to say that they aren't based in some truth, but often times, we blow things out of proportion.

It goes something like this:  Say you have a job interview coming up and you are feeling overwhelmed/anxious about it.  There is a good chance that the thoughts going through your mind in that moment aren't, "I am well qualified for this, I'm such an awesome person that the interviewer won't be able to resist hiring me, I have so much to bring to this company that not hiring me would be detrimental to their fiscal future, etc." In the moment, our thoughts are probably more like, "I just barely meet the qualifications for this job, I have such little experience in this field, I'm going to bomb this interview, etc."

2 Corinthians 10:5 says it like this in the NIV (emphasis mine), "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."  Let's use this verse as the first step.  Sometimes its hard to know what to do with that negative thought after you recognize it.  A negative thought such as, "I just barely meet the qualifications for this job," requires a bit more observation.  Once you have taken your thought captive (recognized it), take time to examine it; write it down, study it, ask yourself if you have heard this sort of talk before and if so who was it coming from?  I have spoken with many people who've said these sort of things (myself included) yet didn't see the underlying assumptions.  "Not qualified" could possibly assume: worthless, a bad person, incapable, failure and so on.   

Please challenge your negative thoughts.  Write out a list of reasons your aren't a "failure," "bad person," or whatever.  Ask a friend for some help making this list could be extremely beneficial.  When you commission a friend, you can hear it from someone outside of your own voice which in turn, can make it easier to believe.

I'm sure I have sabotaged my own fair share of opportunities by my negative thinking.  When life gets hard, we can't just throw up our hands and think, I guess I'm just not cut out for this.  We have to think positive and continue forward.  Set backs are a given, failure is faulty thinking.

Now let's broaden this out to physical fitness.  If you want to get into shape, what sort of things are you telling yourself about starting?  I often hear, "I will never be able to lose the weight and if I do, I wont be able to keep it off", "I just can't find the time during the day to fit it in", "Gym memberships cost too much money," etc. etc. etc. Sabotage after sabotage after sabotage.

The scariest piece of this whole puzzle is this: we do have what it takes to get the job we want, to be in shape, to live the lives we want to live, we just have to rid ourselves of the negative self talk, replace that old worn out tape player telling us we are no good, and start being the people we were designed to be.