Monday, August 15, 2011

Goals in The Pursuit of Health

For those reading my blog (the old one and this one), you've heard the story of my "Oh s--t" moment which started me on a new road to health.  For those who haven't, hear is the cliff notes version.

I tried Crossfit on whim and it was hard... but I hated being defeated so easily, so I stuck with it.  At about the same time, I was reading a book recommended by a friend "The Culprit and the Cure".  It showed me my current lifestyle would result in a premature death of almost 20 years.  I changed my diet immediately and continued on this path to health.

With such an epiphany, I was convinced my change to life was permanent.  To see my progress over the next 10 months, I knew I'd never go back and people around me believed too.  I set some tough goals only to blow right past them 2 - 4 months earlier than planned.  IT. WAS. GREAT.  I reached my target weight and was within striking distance of my body fat %.  Then a dirty little secret revealed itself to me.  As Gandhi said "Glory lies in the attempt to reach one's goal and not in reaching it." 

The path to my goal was a focused, relentless experience.  I was not to be denied my end state.  My willpower and discipline was incredible and enviable.  I could be surrounded with my favorite foods, drink, and sit stoically as others enjoyed.  My bland vegetables tasted wonderful.  I never bored of broccoli and cauliflower (even though I still can't spell either right the first time).  I counted, measured, controlled, worked out, and continued a constant march.

I had two major goals: (1) to run a 10k before left my 40th year and (2) to see a weight of 225.  On 10/16/10 (1 day before my 41st b-day), I ran the Chile Pepper.  On 11/4/10, I weighed in at 225.

WHEW.  Glad that's over.  Honestly, I didn't feel like it was over and my attitude didn't really change, but without a tough goal, my relentless focus because a little less.... well... relentless.  I continued to work out... HARD.  I continued to eat well.  But, I began letting thing creep back in, slowly.  And it happens very gradually.... almost at a glacial pace.

You don't realize it at first.  A few chips instead of tomatoes.  An occasional sandwich instead of meat and veggies.  A few bites of ice cream.  An occasional night of imbibing and eating whatever you see.   Those small encounters are harmful.  But it grows like an unwanted weed.  Few becomes many.  Occasional becomes often.  Small becomes medium.  The weed takes hold and suddenly you have a lot more weeds than you wanted.

The good news is I'm not in crisis.  I maintained my weight for many weeks post reaching my goal.  And still even today, I'm within 5 - 7 lbs all the time.  I still workout religiously, but, I'm a little slower on my runs, I'm a little weaker on my lifts, and a little slower on some of the WODs.   My eating has ebbed on the weekends with at least 2 or 3 or 4 cheat meals.  All very fixable.

But here is the other dirty little secret.  My motivation to fix it SUCKS.  I thought my "re-epiphany" would be all  I needed to kick my effort into high gear.  WRONG.  I need a purpose, a hard goal.  Something which cannot be achieved without relentless focus and discipline.  I'm not sure my exact goal yet, but I know  it will be so damn hard, I won't even want to think about it.  It needs to take me a year to reach.

Meanwhile, I've set some smaller goals.

Deadlift 400 (my PR is 360).
Run a sub-7 mile - my best is 7:10 (took me 3 days to recover LOL).
Clean 185 - 1 armed. (175 is my best)
Fran in 7:30 - (8:15 is my best).

So my advice is this:  As you near you "big" goal, begin thinking about the next one.  Don't change it but allow yourself the victory of achieving the first one.  Give yourself a week to celebrate, then rip it down and put up the next big thing.  Otherwise, complacency might just be your next big thing....