Archive for August, 2012

The weekend!

August 5, 2012


I’ve had a great weekend so far and it’s not over yet.  I was camping with friends on Friday, at a birthday BBQ last night and today i’m off to a cabin on a river.  Great summer weekends often seem like a distant memory in the bleak months of winter, so it’s best to make the most of weather and the time with friends while the opportunity is here.

One thing i’m increasingly aware of as I get older is how important it is to be grateful for the opportunities i’m afforded.  Although it’s easy to focus on the negatives in our lives, it’s important that we don’t lose touch of how truly lucky we are.

Enjoy the long weekend (if you’ve got it!).

 

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August 2, 2012

 

One of the hardest challenges of setting personal goals is actually following through.  In my experience, many people set goals for themselves and rarely succeed.  For whatever reasons, we fail and we’re left with the unsettling feeling of failure that damages our self-esteem.

On several occasions I have set goals for myself.  Sometimes I succeed, and sometimes I fail.  While I’m happy with my successes, my failures continue to haunt me.  Why can’t I maintain a healthy lifestyle?  Why can’t I stay organized?  I set goals in these areas and I fall short or, worse, I quit.

“In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.” ~ Bill Cosby

The whole process of striving to achieve and experiencing failure does damage to my sense of integrity.  I can’t feel good about myself knowing deep down that I’ve failed.  Even worse, I can recall the pain of failure or the fear of failure preventing me from striving to achieve goals that would greatly benefit me.  This damaging thought process has preventing me from mastering my strengths and improving my weaknesses.

‘Success leaves clues.” ~ Tony Robbins

As I ponder my past successes and failures, I wonder whether or not there is a pattern involved.  I looked online and discovered a list that made sense to me, “7 Undeniable Reasons Why Some People Fail Where Others Succeed”:

  1. They define success wrong
  2. They define opportunity wrong
  3. They define work wrong
  4. They defeat themselves
  5. They think failure is final
  6. They’re a victim of their circumstances
  7. They take ‘no’ for an answer

If I think critically, I believe what holds me back is my ability to stick with my plan.  I feel that I know what I want and what I need to do to achieve my goals, yet I continue to experience failure.

The whole topic is of great interest to me as I seek to make some lifestyle changes that I feel will benefit me greatly.  It has been well over a week since we returned from our honeymoon and while I was away, I consciously decided that I wanted to make some major changes in my life, particularly to certain aspects of my lifestyle.   It is my belief that my bad habits are causing me personal anguish and preventing me from happiness and fulfillment.  My habits are involving me in a ‘downward spiral’ that is difficult to escape from, but not impossible.

Since we’ve returned, I’ve endeavored to eat healthier, exercise, organize my surroundings, and curb my habit of procrastination.  It has taken great discipline, but even within a week and a half, I’ve already experienced some very positive gains.  I believe that if I continue with this trend, I will notice an even greater impact on all areas of my life.  This type of success feels good, and I want to find a way to continue with this trend, and avoid the pitfalls of failure that I’ve experienced in the past.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

Perhaps I should consult the list from above to determine a plan for success. However, I’d like to rewrite the list so that it reflects a more positive language:

  1. Define success
  2. Define opportunity
  3. Define work
  4. Create a vision of ‘my’ success
  5. Realize that failure is not final
  6. Realize that I’m in control of my destiny
  7. Say ‘yes’ to success

This seems more appropriate, geared towards creating success in my life, rather than celebrating reasons why people fail.  Numbers 1-4 ask for me to fully understand the concepts of success, opportunity and work, in an effort to better understand number 4, my ultimate vision for success and happiness.  Numbers 5 and 6 are about realizing that I’m in control of my success and that it’s never to early or late to start over.  Number 7 challenges me to put my plan into action, and continue to push myself towards success, even when times are tough.

My homework for this weekend will be to find some time for myself to work through numbers 1 to 4 and determine a plan for my success.  I look forward to exploring this concept further in a future post.

You are what you eat…

August 1, 2012

Recently, while cleaning my workspace I noticed a picture of myself from 10 summers ago.  The picture was taken without my permission, right after a midnight skinny-dip in a lake with some friends.  Luckily (for all of us), I had the sense to grab some clothes and cover my privates before the flash lit the night.  The picture has endured for years, moving with me from home to home.  It serves two purposes: one, as a reminder of good times with friends; two, as a reminder of what I looked like when I was at my prime physical condition.

At the time, I was very disciplined with my health.  I was eating smart and working hard at the gym.  It showed.  I looked good and I felt good.  One of the greatest feelings was that people were noticing.  It was nice to hear people say: “have you been working out?” and “you’re looking great!”.  I had no trouble taking my shirt off at the beach because I had a body I could be proud of.  Call me vain, but I enjoyed the feeling of noticing other people noticing me.  I was young and carefree and it felt as if the world was my oyster.

That was then.  It’s hard to imagine my best years are behind me, but it may be a reality.  When I look at the picture now, I can’t help but feel a sense of shame wash over me. We can’t stay young and vibrant forever, but that doesn’t give me permission to let myself go.  10 years later, I feel embarrassed to take off my shirt at the beach, so much so that I avoid going.

Ok, let me be clear.  I’m not morbidly obese or anything.  In the last 10 years I’ve fluctuated between 195-244 pounds, gaining and dropping weight so frequently I’ve earned the nickname Oprah (not really).  The entire time, I’ve remained athletic and continue to participate in recreational sports.  I can climb a mountain, bike 20 to 30km and play hockey, although, not in the same day.  I’m what you call ‘skinny-fat’.  Parts of me are thin and athletic looking, but my spare tire (belly and love handles) makes me look 7 months pregnant.  It looks as if I’m smuggling a volleyball under my shirt.

I joke, but I consider it a serious problem.  It’s not healthy to fluctuate in weight so frequently and it’s disconcerting to feel shameful about your body image.  I can’t buy into the idea that I should be “happy with who I am” when I know deeply that it’s my fault I’m overweight.  I wasn’t born ‘big boned’, I’ve just been too weak to eat healthy.  I choose the comfort foods over the healthy alternatives.  I’ll choose the hamburger with fries over the salad, or the chips and chocolate over the yogurt and fruit.  The consequences are extra pounds and a sense of guilt.

A little over a month ago my wife and I celebrated our wedding in front of 230 friends and family.  Although it was a joyous occasion, I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I didn’t have the willpower to work hard enough before the wedding to look the way I wanted to.  My wife was exercising 3-4 days a week and eating healthy, but I barely changed my lifestyle.  For months, I tried several times to get into the habit of exercising and eating healthy, only to give up within a week or two.  Even worse, between the wedding and our honeymoon, I put on 12 pounds.  When I returned, I weighed 228 pounds, and was disgusted with myself.

The day we returned I made a decision that I hope will resonate for the rest of my life.  I decided that I needed to make exercise and healthy eating a must, an absolute priority.  Since returning, I’ve been eating healthy and exercising regularly.  I’ve been frequenting the gym or enjoying the summer weather by hiking or biking.  It has been just over a week and the recent surge of healthy eating and physical activity has already helped me lose 6 pounds.

The best feeling is that eating healthy and exercising gives me a sense of integrity. I have had several opportunities to eat unhealthy foods and avoid exercise, but I’ve had the will to choose otherwise.  I feel good about myself knowing that I have the willpower to choose right and it’s only a matter of time before I start to enjoy the results.

I’ve decided to display the photo of me from 10 years ago where I can see it daily.  It will serve as motivation for me, a reminder of what I am capable of.  I realize that I may never look the way I did 10 years ago, but that is not my intention.  Instead, I wish to be reminded of what I felt like at the time, strong, healthy and confident, and that this feeling is completely within my control.