the hardest thing and the right thing

So, I’ve written here before about my friend Debra.

If you’re interested in how things are shaping up for her, check out today’s post on her journey to awesomeness.

I find her story to be ridiculously inspiring. She makes me want to eat some brussels sprouts and see how fast I can run a mile. She makes me want to put meat in my crockpot and do push ups on the kitchen floor. And her story is full of awesome lessons that I need to remind myself about:

Lesson #1: Anything worth doing takes (sometimes significant) effort. Eating well is time consuming. Planning, cooking, and (for me, the biggest one) cleaning up after eating well takes a gazillion times longer than throwing a Hot Pocket in the microwave. Here’s my kitchen sink — and I promise, I didn’t stage this:
Yes. My sink looks like that RIGHT NOW. Halp.

Lesson #2: Many things worth doing really, truly, and totally suck ass *in the beginning*. Not just the “I hate doing the dishes” kind of suck-ass, but the “Holy shit I feel like I’m going to die because my body is so addicted to sugar that I can’t function properly for several days as it detoxes” suck-ass. However, once we change our lifestyles, the suck-ass goes away and we reach a new state of normal. We essentially form new habits (ugh! effing dishes TWICE A DAY) that slowly move into the background of our consciousness; they don’t suck so much anymore.

Lesson #3: Often we need to be single-minded in order to succeed, and often that single-mindedness is seen by others as selfishness. And in some ways, it IS selfish — but it is the GOOD kind of selfishness. The self-preservation kind of selfishness. You have to take care of yourself first before you can take care of other people. And while I believe with every cell of my being that the right thing to do is always kindness, sometimes in order to be kind to others, we have to be kind to ourselves first. You know, like putting your own oxygen mask on in the flaming airplane before you put one on your kids. You’re looking out for number 1 so you are strong enough to look out for the rest.

Lesson #4: Success requires some kind of support network. I know I come back to this point repeatedly, but it’s because it bears repeating. And while this lesson seems to be in tension with #3 above, I think we can overcome the (potential) isolation that our lifestyles create by seeking out people who share our goals and values. This is why CrossFit has been so crucial for me; those people *get* me. Also, while my family did make fun of me a little bit when I started telling them “bread is just filler!”, we now share several protein and vegetable meals a week and no one complains about the lack of mac and cheese. Plus, I’ve been very lucky that Brian likes to grill meat because, frankly, I don’t know my way around a charcoal briquet.

I tell my kids and my students that the long way around is the way to go. Shortcuts, more often than not, mean doubling-back, starting over, and frustration. We remind ourselves at the box that *slow, small gains* constitute the best kind of progress; those are the gains you’re going to maintain.

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. [“All At Once” –The Fray] I’d say NORMALLY the hardest thing and the right thing, but I won’t argue with iambic hexameter.

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