How to Make Impossible Possible
How do you make the impossible possible? Only 3 weeks into 2015 and we witnessed two men make impossible possible by free climbing El Capitan. What’s your El Capitan? What’s something you want to make happen in 2015 but seems impossible?
3 years ago working out for 30 minutes seemed impossible. I weighed over 200 pounds and no longer recognized myself when I looked in the mirror. I remember walking through my college campus and feeling envious of anyone who was skinnier than I was. “What I would give to look like her” I would think to myself. Losing weight felt impossible. I didn’t understand how to lose weight healthily. I was under the impression that being born thin, calorie counting, diet restricting, living at the gym, and having an eating disorder were the only ways to get skinny. I didn’t understand that there was a healthy way to lose weight. My weight wasn’t the result of a slow metabolism. It was because of a grief induced unhealthy, unbalanced diet and sedentary lifestyle. But I was struggling with getting active, exercising was so hard that it seemed impossible.
Last night I stumbled across a Ted Talk by Emily Balcetis titled, “Why some people find exercise harder than others.” What Emily and her team did was study people, both fit and unfit, and attempt to understand why some people perceive and find exercise harder than others.
Emily and her team found that it turns out some people actually do find exercise easier than others. What they did was find their participant’s fitness levels by measuring the circumference of their hips and waists. (Higher waist-to-hip ratio = less physically fit/ Lower hip-to-waist ratio=more physically fit) They told participants that they were going to walk to a finish line holding weights and to estimate how far away the finish line was. They found that the people who were less physically fit estimated that the finish line was significantly further than the people who were more physically fit.
Everyone who has ever fallen out of shape could have told you that. I would get incredibly frustrated whenever anyone would tell me how easy it was to find the motivation to workout. I was green with jealousy. I wished I loved working out and found it easy like they did. But the truth was I was embarrassed to be seen at the gym next to the tall, fit SoCal girls in their teeny tiny workout outfits that appeared to live at the gym. Overweight Kelly struggled next to them, huffing, puffing, and sweating like a mad woman during a “quick” 30 minute workout. No, it wasn't easy it was frustrating, painful, and embarrassing. (Now I run marathons and have become the a hole who tells people how easy it is to get fit and healthy.) I’ve been on both sides of the fence and can attest that yes, exercising is easier when you are in shape. BUT HOW DO YOU GET THERE?
Here’s what Emily Balcetis’ and her team found, ready to rip your hair out? It’s a tactic you have been told and have employed a million times.
“Keep Your Eyes On The Prize.”
What does “keep your eyes on the prize” mean? Let’s use running as an example. Say running a half marathon, 13.1 miles, seems impossible. You want to run a half marathon but don't think you can do it. You can’t focus on the final distance, you have to work your way there. So you get a training plan that starts with your first weekly long run, 4 miles, which will seem impossible. 4 miles is your very first finish line. So you keep your eyes on the prize and take off, focusing only on that 4 mile finish line. You may even break it up into 4 mini 1 mile finish lines. Slowly, week by week, your long runs get longer and you prove to yourself that running 6, 7, or 10 miles isn’t impossible because you just did it. It doesn’t happen overnight; it takes weeks of training and long run finish lines before you can cross the final 13.1 mile finish line. But you get there. It happens. You made the impossible possible.
The same strategy goes for losing weight. When I was at my heaviest, the thought of weighing what I weigh today seemed impossible. But losing two pounds felt possible. I made my weekly goal, my long run per se, to lose 2 pounds. Every day I measured and portioned my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks consisting of fruits, veggies, lean protein and whole/multi-grains. (Seriously, I ate nothing processed and no chocolate. OK once a week I gave myself ¼ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.) And I went to the gym and got sweaty for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Then when 30 minutes felt easy, I did 45 minutes on an elliptical. Then 60 minutes. Weeks later I felt brave enough to try a 60 minute spin class. It took 6 months of 2lb finish lines to lose about 55 lbs. 6 MONTHS! It's all about tiny finish lines and keeping your eyes on the prize. That's how you make impossible possible.
Today RunKeeper unleashed a way to help you make impossible, possible the This Year You Can Challenge. RunKeeper’s training plans made running a half marathon and then a marathon, possible. By using a fitness app like RunKeeper you are given challenges, goals, and those weekly finish lines. They give you the tools you need to succeed. NO GOAL IS TO SMALL! The first challenge starts today and ends January 31st. What is it? To get three hours (180) minutes of activity in. CLICK HERE for more info and to join the challenge!
I know it’s frustrating when it feels impossible. It’s easy to just want to give up. But it’s not impossible! You just have to set tiny, manageable, realistic goals and KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE. SO, what’s your impossible? Do something huge. Stop waiting. Until tomorrow, #RunSelfieRepeat.