If vs. Then

I was recently out for a training ride and had a lot of time to think about my triathlon training. In the lonely moments of the long distance cyclist, runner, swimmer… sometimes questions come up. Sometimes they are silly questions, like “Why is that house painted purple?” and “When will my stomach stop making that sloshing sound?” Sometimes, the questions are deeper. “Why am I doing this?” This particular time out on the road, I asked myself, “When will I be an athlete?” I’ve completed 13 half marathons, 4 full marathons, a sprint triathlon, and countless 5ks. Sure, I’m out on the road at 8am on a Saturday to ride 50+ miles by myself, but I don’t look like those women in the magazines and books I read on running, cycling, triathlon, etc. I watch instructional YouTube videos on correct swimming positions, cycling posture, and transition zone set-up, but they don’t represent me. I’m still 40 pounds over ideal weight.

Being alone with my thoughts for so long gave me way too much time to think about what the distinction is. Further, it allowed me to think about why people in general think about topics like these as “are” or “aren’t”, with no room for what might exist in between – otherwise known as conditionals. Maybe you are familiar with this idea? “If” I lose weight, “then” I will be happy. “If” I make more money, “then” things will be better. The “if” and “then” are qualifiers of what you feel “needs” to happen in order for something to “be” or “take place”…a statement of result. Mine is “If I’m skinny, then I’ll be an athlete”.

Some people call moments of clarity “ah-ha” moments, times in life when you “figure something out.” On my bike, I had an “uh-duh” moment. For so long I’ve been tied up in the “if ….then” continuum. If I look this way, then I’ll be an athlete. “If” I run a 10 minute mile, “then” I can consider myself a runner. It occurred to me that if we remove the, “if and then,” we are just grateful for what we have when we have it. We become what we do. Why not focus on the present moment instead of thinking that “if” I lose weight, “then” I will be… more attractive, happier, healthier, etc? Let’s practice being these things, instead of planning of the “if” and “when” of them. It feels stronger and more assured to say: when I run, I am a runner. When you play sports, you are an athlete. When you “do”, you “are”. Let’s let go of the doubt. If you do, you are.
I encourage having general goals or a plan, but I suggest letting go of what you are hanging onto in terms of what that looks like. Hanging on for the “perfect time” to start a project, or waiting until you are a size 2 to wear a bikini; these are things that keep you from enjoying life. A friend once told me that the word “should” implies expectations… and expectations are just pre-meditated resentment. So, take a look at your goals. Are you setting yourself up to fail, feel guilty, limit yourself, etc?

I encourage you to do what makes sense to you; knowing that when you “do,” you “are.” No one ever can know what tomorrow will bring, we are all just on a journey and the “goal” might just be to enjoy the moments, not the destination. Be the best you that you can. You are stronger than you think you are and you can do more than you think you can. Make a goal and make it happen. Be the self that you’ve always wanted to be. You are worth it.

“Life is what happens when we are busy making other plans.”- John Lennon

Article originally appeared on The Seattle Lesbian (http://www.theseattlelesbian.com/).

See website for complete article licensing information.

Stacey S in Fitness, Health, Health & Fitness, LGBT, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Seattle, Seattle gay, Seattle lesbian, Stacey S, The Seattle Lesbian, Wellness


Goal Setting

When trying to get into shape, change the world or build a business, the goal and plan are what makes the difference between success and failure. When was the last time you set a goal? Did you accomplish it? If you did, did you feel satisfied? Or were you hoping you had done more? If you didn’t accomplish it, did you feel let down?

There are a lot of different ways to set goals and work towards them. I suggest thinking about something that you’ve “hoped” would just “happen” and make a plan about how you can start to move towards that goal. I promise it is within your reach and I believe you can achieve it. How do you set a goal?

Here’s just two of the many ways:

Sometimes setting a goal means there is no “end date.” Sometimes the goal could be something along the lines of “being healthier” or fitting into a “size 14 or 36,” with the expectation that at some point, somewhere, somehow, you will reach your goal. The goal can be open-ended and very flexible. Setting a goal without a set “end time” can allow us to have flexibility with goals we set for ourselves. At the same time, I find it important to still maintain some structure. If you are trying to lose 30 pounds, weigh in once a month just to see if you are headed in the right direction. Think slow, but steady. You can write down your goal and keep it in mind as you take small steps to reach it. You can continue to check back every couple of months and reassess how you are doing on your road to your long term goal. After you reach it, you can set a new goal! Think about how you’ll work to progress slowly towards your goal and put those plans into action at a pace that is comfortable to you.

The downside to this kind of goal setting is that you can find yourself aimlessly wandering and as time passes, you might wonder why you haven’t made any progress towards your goal. The upside is that you have less pressure, can be more creative, try different paths to your goal, etc. It’s more trial relaxed, but with self evaluation and consistent check-ins over time, it can be a great way to reach a goal.

What do we do when we have a rigid timeline? Like, for instance, a ten year reunion or an important event? Or how about bathing suit season? Let’s say you signed up for a marathon or event with a specific date. I find that having a specific date needs much more structure. I think this sort of goal setting is how people usually start off the New Year. As your goal starts to slip away due to it being too vague or too lofty, it becomes a “no end date” goal, then it becomes just a memory of a goal. The goal needs to be realistic and the timeline, achievable. A goal with a timeline can help keep you on track because in order to accomplish these goals, you need a plan. You don’t have to be Macgyver, but you have to plan out the steps you’ll need in order to reach your goal by a certain date.

Here’s the most important part: you have to follow them. If you want to run a marathon, set up a training plan. If you want to be able to get up a flight of stairs without feeling winded, take steps needed to improve your endurance. If you use this type of goal setting and you keep your goal realistic and set a plan, completion of your goal can be such an amazing fete! What an accomplishment! However, if you make your goal too large or you don’t allow enough reasonable time, this can be detrimental and make you lose sight of your original goal.

Whatever you goal is, I think that both fulfillment of the goal and the road there are equally important. As John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Live in the “now” and you can feel happy every day with how you lived. Challenge yourself and always push to be your very best.

Article originally appeared on The Seattle Lesbian (http://www.theseattlelesbian.com/).

See website for complete article licensing information.

Stacey S in Fitness, Health, Health & Fitness, LGBT, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Seattle, Seattle gay, Seattle lesbian, Stacey S, The Seattle Lesbian, Wellness