Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to pace a friend who was running his first 100 mile (!) race. Talk about an incredible goal. Prior to the start of the event, my friend and I discussed his strategy, and it came down this: Keep. Moving. Forward. Mile after mile, one foot in front of the other. No going backwards (which, turns out, my friend took to heart; he later told me that at one aid station he had moved beyond a section where he could have doused his head in water, but by the time he had moved beyond it, there was NO WAY he was going to retrace his steps and go back. His mission was to keep moving forward). He knew that to get from where he was, to where he needed (and desperately wanted) to be, he had to move forward. To use the title of an ultra-running book, Relentless Forward Progress was the name of the game.
In all of life’s goals, we are always looking to move forward. Now, I am not saying to not enjoy the present. In fact, I am all about living and enjoying the here and now. But when it comes to our goals, to the desires of our hearts, we cannot go backwards.
Moving forward can seem simple enough in theory when it comes to health and fitness goals, but somewhere along the way, I see many a client get lost on the path from setting their goal to executing it. Life gets in the way. How can we continue on the path of forward motion towards our goals, when it seems every day is wrought with obstacles to overcome?
A wise mentor once told me that when it comes to your goals, every choice you make and every action you take (or don’t) throughout the day either brings you closer to realizing your goal, or further away from it. There is no “standing still.” If you are not moving closer to your goal, you might as well be moving away from it. In addition, he pointed out that in order to reach our goals, our behaviors must be in alignment with them. You want to run a marathon? Then sitting on the coach all day is not going to make it happen. Your behavior – in this case, choosing to be sedentary – is not in alignment with your goal to run a marathon. Want to lose some extra fat you may have packed on over the years? Continuing to eat un-healthy and processed foods in excess quantities are NOT behaviors that will move you forward to your goal. Every choice you make, from what you eat, to how much (or little) you move throughout the day, is either helping you progress towards your goal(s), or not.
Now, it would be easy to read the above and feel defeated and deflated. I can hear you now, “I mean, seriously, if I have to be that diligent all of the time, I might as well tuck into the Ben and Jerry’s, right?” Not at all! Rather than view the above and think that you have to be 100% compliant or not bother trying is not what I want you to take away from this. Let me frame this a different way. Every day, you can make a myriad of choices…all of which can help set you on the road to success towards your goals. Mess up and forget to eat breakfast (or snag a donut on the way out of the door)? You now have the choice to change your behavior and your progress the VERY next time you pick up your fork. Or choose to go for a walk instead of watch that episode of “The Newest Amazing Reality Show Train Wreck.” Or choose to go to sleep early rather than play video games. You follow me? We are in a constant state of being able to “start again.” It’s the failing to right ourselves that make it impossible to reach our goals.
So, what are your goals? Truly…the health and fitness goals that tug at your heart and make you hum a little (or a lot!) when you think of them. Want to run that ultra, do a triathlon, or walk around the block without gasping for breath? Do you want to be stronger, faster, leaner? More comfortable in your skin? Ok…so what are YOU doing to get yourself there? Be honest. Are your behaviors aligned with your goals? If not, how can you change things to create a shift to align them?
As for my friend…well, he kept moving forward and rocked his first 100 mile race. Serious Bad A$$. For real!