Strength and Persistence

One of the messages that I’ve been hearing over and over again during the past few weeks is that fitness is a journey, and everyone’s journey looks different. It’s caused me to really reflect on what my journey has been like up to this point. How far back do I go? When I look back, what do I see? Where has my journey brought me?

I’ll admit, it hasn’t yet brought me where I’m trying to go. Maybe it’s because I’m focused on my destination – physically, mentally, and emotionally strong and healthy. And I’ll be honest – I’m not there, yet.

But in reflecting on my journey and where my dedication has gotten me, I keep coming back to two things: strength and persistence.

I may not be where I want to be, yet, but this is the most persistent I’ve ever been on my journey. The most consistent. And with that, I’m discovering a strength that I didn’t know I had. I thought I was physically strong before I started all of this. I wasn’t wrong, necessarily, but in the last couple of months, my physical strength has grown so much, and I’m so proud of the strides I’ve taken.

Beyond that, the mental and emotional strength I’ve found has been surprising and empowering. I’d like to say that it has resulted in a lot of drastic improvements in the rest of my life, but it hasn’t. In spite of that, I feel better equipped to handle the challenges I’m facing. I feel strong enough to make hard decisions, have difficult conversations, and stand up for myself.

So with all of this progress, how am I not where I want to be yet?

It’s because exercising that kind of strength is exhausting. Mentally, emotionally, and physically draining. Sometimes, I don’t get the opportunity to fully recover before I have to face the next challenge, and consequently, I don’t handle that next challenge as well. But I’m not giving up.

In the past couple of months, I have taken better care of myself than at any other point I can remember. It was a matter of really recognizing that when I don’t take care of myself, I feel awful. Not enough sleep, not enough water, too much alcohol, too much crap food, not enough physical activity.

The switch finally flipped, and having made good decisions long enough to rid my body of toxic sludge, the persistence has paid off. It’s easier to make those good decisions because of how good I feel. And now I’m strong enough to make those decisions, even when I really don’t want to. It’s been incredibly difficult. When I’m tired at the end of the day, avoiding the drive-thru takes a lot of effort. When I’m struggling with someone in my life, it takes all the willpower I have to not turn to alcohol.

When I re-started this journey yet again a couple months ago, I had these big, lofty goals of all the things I’d track to see how I was progressing – my happiness, my weight, my measurements, etc. – and in reality, that’s not how I’m seeing my progress. Yes, my choices are impacting those things, but they’re not defining my success. I’m seeing my success in how I handle difficult situations, how I talk to myself – building myself up rather than tearing myself down, and going after what matters to me, even if it scares me.

I have a long way to go, and in the grand scheme of things, my journey has just begun. That’s daunting and exciting at the same time. In the end, though, it’s going to be one badass journey.

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