It’s Okay To Get Help Achieving Goals

July 10, 2014 § 2 Comments

Flickr credit: Jinx! Creative Commons License

Flickr credit: Jinx!
Creative Commons License

So I’ve started a new venture. Well, actually going to the gym is not unknown to me. I had a membership once before without success.

This time, however, I’ve taken on a personal trainer to help me realize my goals – the first of which is to not suck air by doing minimal physical activity and the second is to make fitness part of a daily routine.

My first attempt at getting in better shape occurred in 1998. After I started my communications business, I really embraced the change in my career by taking on a few personal development pursuits, including going to the gym and enrolling in Toastmasters.

I made a valiant with both in the beginning, but as I got busy building the business, I began rationalizing why I couldn’t go. Eventually I dropped both because I had felt the need to be going all the time as part of my new lifestyle.

It didn’t occur to me that doing something less frequently but still regularly was better than doing nothing at all. The required commitment just wasn’t there for either.

Fast forward to 2014

I decided to buy a bike in May. My last one died in 1997 as I pedaled to work at the Ontario Lottery Corporation one morning. I hadn’t cycled since.

Despite initial excitement about even cycling to and from work, I have only gone for one spin.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was contacted via LinkedIn by Taylor Jarvis, a personal trainer who works at Winston’s Health and Fitness Centre. She’d heard through a mutual acquaintance that I might be looking for someone to coach me at the gym.

I thought there would be no harm in going to speak with her and doing an initial orientation.

The first time out was frustrating. I wasn’t able to get through what I felt were easy exercises on some of the equipment without help and I bailed out of lunges.

It also felt awkward to have someone coaching me on something I felt should be up to me to take care of – my own fitness.

In the workplace and out in the community, I am a mentor to numerous people. I wasn’t sure about this turnabout. I am very independent, competitive and take pride in everything I do. I rarely seek help on anything unless I have a problem with technology.

Taylor checked in that first evening to see how I was feeling and to make sure that I’d enjoyed working out. She told me had done well even though I was disappointed.

That encouragement helped make sure there was a next time.

By my second visit to the gym, I was feeling sore. I knew that was in part because I hadn’t worked some of my muscles hard in years. In between, diabetes had taken its toll on my body, too.

After that workout, Taylor asked me how I felt. I told her the dilemma was that I could quit and the soreness would go away or I could get stronger and it would also go away.

She said I could think of it as a good hurt.

Today, the role reversal came full circle.

After going through my first exercise, Taylor asked me how I felt. I replied, “Okay.” She countered with: “You mean, not awesome or great?”

That’s exactly how I might speak to someone who provided a less than enthusiastic reply. I wondered if Taylor had read one of my first blogs which was about banning iffy word and phrases like hope, try, may, might, if and would like to. She hadn’t. I usually cringe when others use the word okay as is equivalent to mediocre to me.

Inspiration to Continue

It was after this third workout that I decided I’d continue going to the gym regularly and that I would carry on with Taylor to coach me to higher levels of fitness. I realize that, in time, I can be more self-directed and work out on my own some of the time or at home.

I just know this time, I want to maintain fitness as something I just do and not let things get in the way. The one bit of exercise I did get in recent years was Jasper’s need for daily walks. As his health waned up until his death in February, we’d been taking shorter, less invigorating jaunts.

This spring, Joyce and I began walking up to 10 km per day which, combined with workouts, will put me in much better condition.

This fitness venture has reminded me that it’s okay to get help setting goals, reaching them, establishing new ones and measuring success. While I was skeptical that a personal trainer would be the solution, it helped to click with someone whose encouragement has already kept me going.

Reinforcement From Others

I tweeted out about my fitness pursuit today and received a lot of encouragement. I will share some of the responses:
Glenna Cross, a communications consultant in Calgary said: “Keep going David. Just pace yourself. Listen to your body’s messages about limits.”

Another communications colleague, Dan Huang, who lives in Edmonton, said, “keep going to the gym, sitting on our butts is shortening our life span daily…just going to the gym is half the battle.”

Friend Samantha Evans in New Jersey who also described the soreness from workouts as a “good hurt” told me how much she cherishes her gym time.

“It’s worth it, trust me. Think of it this way: You are bettering yourself. Push yourself, just not to the point of harming yourself.”
With the help of Taylor and encouragement from friends and colleagues, I’m sure to succeed this time.

One thing is for sure, I am not a woulda, coulda, shoulda type person.

Be Bold. Be Beautiful. Be Undeniably You.

February 18, 2013 § 3 Comments

It’s been some weeks since I started the Year of the External Me. Focusing on myself like that, on the things I want to achieve, the people I want in my life, it’s intimidating how quickly everything begins falling into place. Before any of it did, however, there was one key factor I was missing.

English: Charles the Bold

English: Charles the Bold (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last month was community manager appreciation day. It’s a day I love because, well, I’m a community manager! I was pondering community building and what it really boils down to. Building community is creating something that people want to be a part of. I brought that down a level further to my own life. How can I create a life full of genuine connection with people I love? By creating a life and a space that they want to be a part of. In that, it’s something I’ve got to love so deeply and so strongly that I never want to leave it and that I can’t help but want to bring more people into.

Though I’ve enjoyed many parts of my life to date, I wasn’t in that space at the beginning of the year. I had some work to do learning to love everything about who I am now and where I’m at. Meaning participating fully in the friendships and relationships (both personal and professional) that I’m engaged in and to just, excuse the language, but stop giving a shit what any of them think. Instead, I began operating from a space where my approval is the only one that matters. It’s powerful stuff!

Note: It doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped caring about the wants and needs of others, just that I put mine first. If I can meet theirs after that? Cool! But never to my detriment.

Almost as soon as I started focusing on internal rather than external approval, the domino effect began. The first result? I relaxed. Like, really relaxed. I remember a time last year where I’d wake up in the morning and my jaw would be clenched. Now, I still get tense, but I use that as a signal from my body that there’s something that requires my immediate attention. As soon as it’s taken care of, we’re on our merry way. Other noticeable changes? I sleep solidly. The time I never felt I had to spend with friends and family is suddenly there. The help I was looking for before is showing up. And I’m experiencing a shift in my relationships. The ones that don’t serve me are either falling by the wayside or evolving into something deeper and more supportive. I feel like I’ve become a part of something bigger than just myself. Like I’m contributing, but I’m not doing it alone.

And to think, it’s all because I’ve given myself permission to be bad at the things I’m bad at (like a perfect inbox. That’s just not in my cards) and to shine as brightly as I can shine where it’s easiest (writing and people!). So if you’re struggling or things in your life just aren’t falling into place like you keep wanting them to, I really have only one piece of advice for you:

Stop whatever it is you’re doing, whoever it is you’re trying to be. Instead, focus on who you actually are and accepting every single piece of you, whether you think it’s a flaw or a gift. Go for the glory, reach for the stars. Be bold. Be beautiful. Be undeniably you.

In the pursuit of happiness…

December 7, 2010 § 4 Comments

It's an awesome smiley face!

Image via Wikipedia

Happiness is the one thing we all want and the one thing many of us spend much of our time trying to find. We make changes to ourselves, our relationships and our surroundings in the hope that these will unlock more of that magical place that we sometimes get to experience in a moment here, and another there. A haircut, a new pair of shoes, rearranging the living room furniture, changing jobs, even changing friends or partners. Though hard decisions to make sometimes, these are nothing more than our attempts–no matter how graceful or clumsy–at fulfilling ourselves the best way we know how to (or don’t).

I’ve spent the past few weeks reflecting on the rest of this year. I’d have to say 2010 has been one of my biggest years. And in it, I’ve found my space in which to be happy. That hasn’t come without its trials and tribulations. I didn’t find my spot without some people coming into my life, others leaving it and some sticking around for the whole adventure. I also never would have found it if I hadn’t been willing to work through the bits that kept me tethered with equal gusto to the parts that helped me fly.

I’ve discovered that long-term happiness isn’t found in a moment, but is made up of our friends, family, coworkers and experiences. It’s a continual state of being that we only recognize when we have the other end of the spectrum to compare it to.

Often, we create our own roadblocks when we lack the openness and confidence to climb as high as we may have fallen. But the ups and the downs are what give us a foundation to connect with one another on. It’s those ups and downs that help us grow, and give us a richness and depth to life that we cannot get elsewhere.

So really, happiness is not something we find, but something we experience. It has as much to do with what happens within us as it does with what happens around us. And so, the responsibility of our happiness falls on no-one’s shoulders but our own. The question then is: Are you happy? And if you aren’t, what are you doing about it?

The obvious lessons are always the hardest to learn

September 7, 2010 § 1 Comment

Apple.

Image via Wikipedia

This summer has taught me a much-needed lesson. Well, it’s RE-taught me rather, because I know I’ve encountered this one before. I don’t know that it’s the last time I’ll need to revisit this lesson, but it seems to be in a different capacity each time, so that a good thing, right?

The lesson I’m learning is this:

I am not exempt from the effects of the natural progression of life or from the laws of this universe.

How incredibly obvious.  And yet, it remains something that I, and many others out there, continue to try to defy. Youth has proved my defiance right in the past, but three separate instances this summer have given me reason to pause and rethink my approach.

The first one is that over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed a fairly consistent ringing in my ears.  I figured it was stress and would go away once life settled down. It’s the end of summer and life is settling down. The ringing is still here. I also find myself straining a bit harder to hear what people say.  I once could hear what others could not, now I’m turning up the volume?

The second is that I’ve had an incredibly busy summer, which isn’t out of the ordinary.  But instead of feeling refreshed and invigorated from all of the activity, I’m just plain worn out. Where is my youth that thrived on that energy level and used it to fuel and propel me forward?

Thirdly, I was home for the long weekend and I took my dog Tetris out for a run.  As we jogged down by the creek in Millet, I noticed that my calves and my shins weren’t as spry as they should be after a summer of shenanigans and Ultimate Frisbee. In the past, I’ve always bounced back fairly quickly after a lot of activity with minimal maintenance and effort. 

What’s going on?

Age.

Last fall, David had a post about the importance of health before wealth. It was a great reminder to take care of ourselves now.  And yet I was still of the mindset that I was young enough that I didn’t have to.  For the first time, health before wealth is really hitting home for me.  Of course I *know* that things like stretching after exercise, eating well, getting enough sleep, etc. is important. But I’ve always bounced back quickly when there was a lack of any or all of these things. 

Had the hearing, the sore muscles and the exhaustion not happened within a short period of one another, I doubt I would have paid them much attention.  But I’ve always believed that when things come in threes it’s a signal.  Here’s my signal to put health before wealth.

The somewhat ironic part is that in doing so early, I become exempt from many of the situations I may find myself in if I continued to ignore the lesson here. But it most definitely makes for a clear choice. Health before wealth now for me too.

What’s In An Age?

August 24, 2010 § 3 Comments

Birthday Cake Cupcake

Image by clevercupcakes via Flickr

So, I turn 50 on Saturday. Yes, a half-century old. The Big Five-Oh.

While this blog focuses on motivation and inspiration, you won’t find me using phrases like, “you are only as old as you feel” or “age is only a number.”

In fact, I’ve never had any strong feelings about reaching any significant age. This year is no different.

However, a colleague gave me pause for thought the other day. She remarked, “We are getting older, David.”

There is no doubt we are. But any reflection I do on the subject revolves around realizing that I continue to grow as a person and as a professional. I learn about myself and the world around me every day.

I aspire to the phrase that when you stop learning, you stop living.

Certainly the signs of advancing age are there – less hair and what I have left has streaks of what I refer to as “Arctic blond” otherwise known as grey.

I can’t do some of the physical things I used to do as well or with as much stamina – the onset of Type 2 diabetes has had a noticeable effect on my eyesight and is likely responsible for the degenerative discs in my neck.

And because I take medicine for diabetes, I don’t drink alcohol. So, if I want to party hardy, I won’t do it by consuming booze.

However, I am content that virtually all the things I have ever really liked to do, I can still enjoy wholeheartedly.

I remain an avid sports fan. I still like to crank up the tunes – and I have yet to reach the stage where I need to. Live theatre is a great interest and being in the great outdoors is an enjoyable daily occurrence with my wife and Jasper, our dog. I still relish hiking and tent camping.

I continue to maintain the motto: Never grow up. Just age gracefully.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the importance of fostering great friendships.
I’ll be marking The Big Day with Joyce by visiting some of them – the family I celebrated with while boarding at their home 30 years ago when I was attending college in Richmond, B.C.

Friendships can also occur with anyone of any age and background. It’s really a matter of connecting with people who are meaningful and enhance your life. It’s not just who you connect with but how.

For example, my blog mate, Wendy, has become a close friend since we met at a conference in May 2009. Soon after, we realized we had much in common and decided to create this blog to develop content for inspirational and motivational book(s) and collaborate on other projects.

Wendy is 28 and I am old enough to be her parent yet we can readily finish each other’s sentences and routinely one of us says something that sparks ideas for the other. We often enjoy long conversations via Skype between Grande Prairie and Calgary.

She has remarked that I am her 20 years from now.

It would be a great loss if either one of us had put up barriers to this connection.

I’ve been inspired by other younger people lately.

The City of Grande Prairie’s Economic Development Officer, Brian Glavin, just turned 25. He has the wisdom and poise of someone much older. This makes him a joy to work with and talk to on any subject.

Brian is bound to be a leader in our organization for many years to come and will have a great impact on his community or in any venture he takes on.

Then there’s Mary Leong who I had the occasion to speak with a few times this summer through her internship in Grande Prairie helping youth seek employment.

Mary, who grew up in Singapore and has been in Canada just five years, will go as far as her ambition takes her. I was immediately taken by her enthusiasm and wide array of interests.

She’s studying political science and psychology at the University of British Columbia. Her future will see her doing either research on how technology shapes cognition and its subsequent effects on political behaviour or something in foreign relations. Perhaps she will be an ambassador or a diplomat. Who knows, maybe she will be Prime Minister.

Mary has already accomplished much in her short life. I look forward to keeping tabs of what are sure to be many success stories authored by her in the future.

At the other end of the spectrum is my mother-in-law, Mary Black, who turned 87 in April. Visits with her bless you with her peacefulness and sense of simplicity. Plus, there is probably not a kinder, gentler, classier person in the world.

So, what is in an age? It’s up to you!

Earth Day: The impact we make is beyond a piece of litter.

April 22, 2010 § 1 Comment

A friend of mine lent me a book called “The Hundred Year Lie” by Randall Fitzgerald.  The first half of the book was a depressing read about all of the chemicals and synthetics that have made their way into our food and the resulting increase in cancer, diabetes, obesity, number and level of toxins contained in our blood, etc.  I struggled to get through that part of the book.  When I reached the second half, it was a welcomed read about eating better, making more natural and/or organic choices, basically taking ownership about what we’re putting into our bodies and being accountable for the results.

One part that stuck out for me especially is when Randall Fitzgerald talks about the rise in male breast reduction surgeries.  He attributes it to there being so many more hormones in the water today because the birth control pill has become so commonly used among women and there is no process to remove it from a city’s water system.

This kind of indirect result of increased use of birth control made it’s way to the forefront of my thoughts as I read a friend’s Facebook status this morning:

Rea Sauter wishes you a happy Earth day!  Pick up some litter today, or pick up a new green daily choice. It’s your planet & your karma.

It is my planet and my karma.  Combined with the new outlook to treat my body better from reading “The Hundred Year Lie” and the fact that whatever we put into our environment affects the health and wellness of other people, I suggest we all look not only to pick up some pieces of litter, but also to think about the foods you eat and the products you use, the chemicals that are in them, and the impact beyond today that they have on our planet and on your fellow man.

The first step to wealth is health

December 21, 2009 § 14 Comments

“The first step to wealth is health.”

That rhymes, I told my doctor as he was chiding me for letting a period of extreme stress get in the way of effectively managing my diabetes. He hadn’t considered that, he said, noting he is not a poet. It would to me as a writer.

“There will always be jobs,” the doctor continued. “But if you don’t take care of yourself, that won’t matter.”

For someone who several others readily call a mentor, the motivator had allowed himself to be distracted from Looking out for Number One. He who has pushed others to be positive has lost his own focus.

No excuses. I know better. If I am to remain competitive in the battle against the D word, then I have to do better. Every day. It has already taken its toll in varying ways.

I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 10 years ago this fall. At first, my doctor felt I could address it with proper exercise and diet. After five years that didn’t work, primarily because I didn’t do the work, and I was prescribed two medications for that as well as pills for cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Diabetes can best be described as juggling four balls – there are four main contributing factors – heredity, stress, diet, and exercise. The first, I can do nothing about. My dad was “borderline” diabetic. When I told the diabetes nurse this, she laughed. “That is like being borderline pregnant. Either you are or you aren’t.”

Then there is stress. Mostly, I am able to use this in a positive sense, feeding my natural drive and energy but lately I have found myself distracted by it, letting things over which I have little or no control bother me.

Speaking of feeding … although I don’t eat horribly, my diet management is not great, mostly in terms of portions and timing. Before I learned I am diabetic, I didn’t eat breakfast so that was an improvement.

The exercise has improved lately, walking the dog almost every day for at least a half hour, often more.

The bottom line is, diabetes is a silent disease. It is not necessarily going to give you a daily reminder like a lump or chronic pain do. But holding it at bay does take daily attention.

So, while I am great at fostering motivation in others, I must accept the responsibility for managing my own stress, diet and exercise. It is MY blood that needs to be monitored and MY doctor appointments that must be kept.

Others can provide encouragement, but it is me who must take charge of my own health.

And, ironically, the best prescription to stress has been at the forefront all these years.

On the side of my mother-in-law’s fridge (for the record, the least reason for me to have stress and, no, my wife is not standing over me as I write) she has posted the Serenity Prayer … God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

My mother-in-law learned in her late 70s that she, too, has diabetes, and has done a much better job of monitoring the disease.

Why?

Perhaps, even though I know I have the disease and know the consequences, I’ve been just too busy worrying about other things.

The doctor was right.

The first step to wealth is health.

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