The mountain in this instance is health and fitness and not the gargantuan Hafþór Júlíus “Thor” Björnsson from Game of Thrones. Admittedly this would be one hell of a workout, but probably ones health would suffer in the long run.
This morning, as I got up bright and early for a meditation session, the view of Carntogher Mountain took my breath away. Bathed in the early morning sunshine and shrouded in a light, low lying cloud, it could have been a CGI scene from Lord of the Rings. Totally magical.
It was whilst staring up at the mountain, contemplating a training run with a sense of excitement and no small amount of trepidation, that I thought that a mountain is a great analogy for health and fitness.
Uphill Struggle or Reaching New Heights?
So you’ve decided that something needs to change. That person looking back at you in the mirror is not the person you want to see each morning. You feel weak. You have aches and pains. You’ve had a wake up call regarding your health that must be answered.
Whatever the reason, the simple act of making the decision to do something about it has set you on the way to a better, healthier you. Well done!
But standing at the bottom of this new mountain, at the start of this new journey of health and fitness, can be quite a daunting experience. But fear not, you are not alone. Everyone feels this way, regardless of their athletic prowess.
Every new challenge I set myself is faced with some doubt as to whether I have the ability to complete it. And the truth is, I never know for sure until I have completed it or, in some cases, have not.
Nagging doubts and fear have their place, but too much is detrimental. For years I have fallen victim to these voices. Many a time I have been silently running along, alone in the mountains listening to the demons of self-doubt perched on my shoulders, telling me all the reasons why I should turn back or why this particular challenge is beyond me.
These voices are loud and insistent at first, drilling into my mind and sapping my resolve.
I learnt long ago to take this as a cue to sit down, to have a little snack, and to remember two voices from my past, guardian angels you might say.
The first voice addresses my doubts and fears:
The second is my own voice, remembering the man every boy from the 70’s and 80’s wanted (still wants) to be:
At this point I can clearly visualise both Mr T and Chuck Norris giving me that look. Maybe it’s exhaustion, dehydration, or oxygen deprivation, but I know that my two heroes would never let me give up. If Mr T and Chuck Norris believe in me, who the hell am I to argue?
With flapjack consumed, jibber-jabber ceased, and the demons quelled, I quietly stand up and continue onwards, ever onwards.
When you start a new fitness regime or a new eating strategy it really can feel like an uphill struggle. It feels so hard to keep going and the distant heights don’t seem to be getting any closer.
This is when you have to stop, turn around and look at where you have come from.
Every step forward is a step higher. It doesn’t matter how quickly you make it up that mountain, just remember that the higher you go, the better the outlook.
This is the key to making it with any health and fitness plan. Stop viewing it as a struggle, as a chore. Even the word ‘workout’ carries the connotation of labour and strife. From this day forth we shall refer to them as fitness adventures, or health expeditions.
View each day/session of your chosen health plan as a ‘challenge’, something to tussle with, sure, but something to inevitably overcome. And if you fail at an attempt? That’s great, because it gives you another chance at that challenge. If things came easy we wouldn’t appreciate the effort and perseverance needed to truly own a skill, of truly conquering that peak.
When we decide to make the mindset change to stop struggling but rather start challenging and testing ourselves it becomes much more about the journey than the destination.
When we reach that initial peak, whatever our goal was, we realise, with joy, that there are a whole heap of mountains out there waiting for us to discover.
And if we start to feel daunted, we just turn around and see how far we’ve come.
You see, the truth of the matter is that the summit isn’t your real goal. It’s just a launch pad to the next summit. The ideals are merely that, an ideal. They are something to aim for, to aid us with our navigation to our true destination. And that is transformation.
Transformation is not a final destination, it IS the journey. And the journey is only ever about where we started and where we are right NOW.
We can only appreciate this transformation when we stop to consider what we have gained, not how far we have fallen short of the goal, because the gain IS the real goal.
Remember as Lao Tzu said:
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.Lao Tzu
So don’t judge yourself against others, but on the progress you have made. Even the smallest amount of progression is still progress.
You might not be Chuck Norris or Mr T but you deserve to be on this mountain.
See you at the top. x
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