Starting with “Congratulations” just doesn’t seem grand enough for you, a new Fitness Challenge Contestant. It’s easy to sign up, to pay money, to have measurements recorded and photos taken. Well, not necessarily easy to see your measurements actually recorded on paper. That caused severe nausea and profuse crying on my part – and I’m told by a few other winners they had their own meltdown on sign up day.
Even letting a stranger take pictures of what I knew was prolific back fat with a side of stomach rolls while willingly wearing bike shorts in public (gasp!) was still one of the hardest things I have ever done. And I’ve had three kids! So I won’t offer “Congratulations” lightly because the beginning of your journey is not what happens on sign up day. It’s what you do with the time between now and when your Challenge ends.
Be it a health scare or a desire for a lifestyle change or wanting to show your daughter what being healthy both mentally and physically looks like then congratulations. It may be so simple that one day you woke up and realized that your wedding ring isn’t going to magically fit on your finger again without some drastic steps. That’s cause for a congratulatory pat on the back. Perhaps you need a push to get on that weight floor and you know if there’s a fee involved in joining this contest it will motivate you to learn the difference between a barbell and a dumbbell. Congrats my friend.
Maybe you wistfully look at past photos from when you were the definition of fit and you just can’t believe that’s the end of your story. Congratulations. It doesn’t have to be. Even if you have never been fit and you are haunted by never ending Mondays wishing “what if” or you have been a guinea pig for every diet that has been on the Best Seller’s list (and some that have not) then you deserve a congratulations and a hug around the neck for stepping out.
Whatever your reason is for starting a Fitness Challenge then “CONGRATULATIONS” for beginning this journey. There may be 10,000 different reasons why each person embarks upon a Challenge built with the beauty of an understanding fitness community. However, there is one common denominator that will set the winners apart from those just in another competition. Your mindset.
Right now in the first few weeks you will see if you are in it to win it or if this is just another “Before” picture to throw in a drawer of dashed dreams. If you are really ready to commit to the eating changes, the workout dedication, passing up the snacks in the break room, learning to make water your best friend and finding an encouraging community to support who you want to be in that “After” picture then you can do this.
In these next weeks I encourage you to find a like-minded friend or group to share your stories. Giving a shout out to a great protein bar you’ve found that takes the edge off of a craving can only be appreciated by those too in the trenches. Being able to post if you start to see muscles pop you didn’t even know existed or to commiserate if you are part of the 5 AM crowd who has to work out before the sun rises rallies your inner fighter to keep going. Find that common thread that will give you a laugh or a new workout idea or a menu suggestion. Or perhaps you’ll gain that bit of inspiration to not just dial it in at the gym today.
I also encourage you to jot down now why you are doing this. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and list what your motivation is for joining a Challenge be it in a gym or on-line. In the rawness of these first few weeks focus upon what you want to achieve, who you want to be better for and why you are here. In the next weeks this journey will get tough. I’m not gonna lie to you. There may be more tears along the way! But if you can capture why you want to overhaul your life – not just physically but mentally and emotionally too – the words will speak truth to you in those hard days ahead.
When you don’t think you can look at another plain chicken breast or green drink of spinach, kale and other things that look like they belong on the forest floor, your true reasons will remind you that this is more than a contest. This is a mindset. This is the start to a new way of life. A healthy way of life. A way of life that will allow for tears of joy when you take your “After” picture with confidence in your new muscles and trimmer measurements.
And speaking this truth now one year after my tear filled sign up day full of self-disgust and disappointment in myself where I dashed out before I even saw my photos, believe that this is the day for you to be a different you. A better you. A healthier you. So focus on making today a great day, putting your reasons on paper to reflect upon why you are doing this, setting your mind to be a winner no matter what your past issues have been and finding a supportive community to walk (or run!) this journey with you. And “Congratulations!” just for being here with me where you are welcomed, supported and believed in.