As I trained for my Ironman triathlon in 2011, I had some wonderful friends who helped instill a simple message into my heart:
“Keep moving forward.”
I repeated that mantra over and over and over to myself on grueling training walks/jogs, bike rides and swims that I sometimes didn’t want to begin and often didn’t feel like finishing. But I did anyway. I had to. Keep moving forward wasn’t just a saying — it was my mission. It wasn’t just in my head — it was in my heart.
I repeated that phrase over and over and over for 140.6 miles on the day of my Ironman. Keep moving forward. Keep moving forward. Keep moving forward.
On the swim in freezing cold water (in the mid-50s) Lake Coeur d’Alene for 2.4 miles: swim…get kicked and hit….brrrr….keep moving forward…..arms are tired….keep moving forward….swim….get kicked….swim….
On the bike for 112 miles and more than 8 hours: pedal….pedal…ouch, my undercarriage hurts…keep moving forward….legs hurt…butt hurts….when is a diesel going to run me over?….keep moving forward….pedal….everything hurts….pedal….pedal…WHAT AM I DOING!?!….oh yeah, I’m keep moving forwarding….
On the 26.2-mile marathon grand finale: my legs feel so weird….oh, fun, blisters on the bottom of both feet…. walk…..walk….walk….ouch…ouch….ouch…..OUCH!!!!!….walk….WHAT AM I DOING!?!….oh yeah, keep moving forward….walk…jog, hey I’m jogging!….and now I’m walking….ouch….have I reached the one-mile marker yet?….keep….moving….forward.
With encouragement from friends, family and strangers, I kept moving forward long enough that day that after 16 hours and 36 minutes and four seconds I’d swam, biked and walked/jogged/waddled far enough to get the free pizza waiting just beyond the finish line. PIZZA!!! Oh yeah, and …. I. AM. IRONMAN!
Standing on the scale in March 2016, feeling miserable and seeing the numbers 373.7 staring back at me while knowing that I wanted to weigh a healthy 161.5 pounds was like signing up for an Ironman race while being more than 100 pounds overweight and out of shape and knowing an overwhelming amount of training had to happen to reach that finish line and hear the words “This pizza is yours, Ironman!”
I’ve also thought a lot about this as I’ve been writing my book (about the Utah Jazz). I’m a writer. I’ve written a lot. But I’ve never written a book because it’s A LOT OF WORK. I write articles, not books. Books are insane. It can be very intimidating and daunting to look at a blank document on your computer knowing that you have 80,000-plus words to write. Shudder. Cold sweat. Where’s that Ironman pizza!?
There are some similarities between these three very different enormous projects: completing an Ironman, losing 200 pounds and writing a book.
My Ironman story popped into my head this morning as I was looking at the updated graph that shows my weight-loss journey since March 2016. My downward line has taken a few detours up, over, down, back, up, down again, up again, down again, up again, down again. (Oh, there’s a straight, clear path? Nah, I’ll take the scenic route over treacherous terrain that requires four-wheel drive even though I only have a rear-wheel-drive Pinto, but thanks.)
The point: Success isn’t a straight line. It isn’t a clear path. It’s got bumps and potholes and messiness and detours and failures and disappointment and food that actually does taste better than thin feels (or at least it’s in front of me and thin isn’t or I’d eat thin, too) and times when you want to quit and …
I won’t lie and say I’m glad I didn’t follow that beautifully straight descending line to my goal weight that I wanted to hit in July 2017. That would have been awesome! But I didn’t. The lowest I got was 197 — 36 pounds away. And then I bounced back up to 250 and now I’m back down to 219. Don’t worry. I’m keeping my hands and arms inside of the rollercoaster ride at all times. The past few days have been good to get back to eating healthy and working on my mindset again. Breathe, Jody. You’re OK. Aaaaahhhhhhh……
I guess my point to all of this is:
You can’t finish if you don’t start.
You can’t finish if you quit.
You CAN finish what you start.
You CAN finish if you never give up.
You don’t have to run a marathon right now. Just run to that next light pole and be happy you’re moving. You don’t have to lose 200 pounds right now. Just eat healthy at your next meal and celebrate being one pound closer. You don’t have to write 80,000 words today. Just write one chapter. The miles, the pounds, the chapters start to add up when you focus on doing one at a time instead of overwhelming yourself by focusing on the massive goal.
You CAN do hard things.
You CAN accomplish anything you want if you — repeat after me — KEEP MOVING FORWARD. I am.