When I was young I swam a lot. I want to say I remember my grandmother saying she thought I’d one day swim the English Channel. I’m not 100% sure that isn’t just a hopeful memory. A memory that can’t be resolved but that feels good to think it happened. If it’s just another one of the lies we all tell ourselves. It’s at least a good one.
This morning I read about a woman who swam the English Channel 4 times...in a row. With the pull of the tides it ended up being 130+ miles in over 54 hours in the water. The Channel’s challenges are those of any ocean/open water swim. Salt water, waves, currents, jellyfish, and cold. As someone who’s spent a night swimming in the warm Gulf of Mexico, this is mind blowing. It also proves we are all pretty much capable of whatever crazy thing we can think of.
As I get older, exercise as sport has an interesting role in my life. I’m a provider and participant, coach and encourager. I at once take it very seriously and in the next breath scoff at taking credit for being able to keep moving for long periods of time. It’s a balance and it’s important.
To me, food and exercise are the ultimate Ritalin. A one two punch of controllables that yield mostly good results, but that are no less addicting. The exercisers of the world will do it beyond injury. I see a woman I know running daily with debilitating form who won’t take a day off and wonder “Maybe this helps her with OCD.” I’m continually signed up for An Ironman and have to take a day off of running after every one because my back won’t allow any more than that. And still we continue.
My life is paid for by exercise practice, and for that I’m grateful. Except for the decade of 89-99 I’ve been active and exercise practicing for the most of my 48 years. Since I was 30 I’ve made it my life’s mission. I think it’s the way to live and I’m dedicated to it. That doesn’t mean I don’t see the audacity and idiocy of it sometimes. Nothing is perfect, and the narcissistic pursuit of self improvement, whatever the form can be hard for others to swallow. Until they give it a try.
In a world where fat has become the final frontier and where losing weigh has been questioned for being insensitive towards those who are in possession of an excess of it, I will say this. Regardless of weight, I have never worked with a client who didn’t feel better when they ate better and exercised. When positioned objectively, the feelings of eating Cheetos or ice cream never measure up to the feelings of accomplishment from completing their first run or race. Of course people still struggle and a lot of times those struggles can be assuaged with food. Some people I coach can recognize that, yes they are mostly better off but still have demons to face. Guess what? Nothings going to solve everything. The onion of your experience gets peeled and no one thing stops all the tears. For me through, exercise practice, eating right, drinking less and the social camaraderie takes care of a lot. Not all. A lot.
A long time ago (read: one year) I wrote a post titled “What you need to know.” I’ll be revisiting it this week. Today what you need to know is that you are capable.
You don’t have to swim the English Channel 1 or 4 times or do an Ironman. You just need to go swim for 30 minutes or ride a bike
You’re capable of walking a mile...then two.
You’re capable of eating right, starting with breakfast. See what happens after.
You’re capable of opening your world to the mental improvement that accomplishment brings. It won’t fix everything but it will be better if you’re open to it.
You. Are. Capable.