So you made a New Year’s resolution to get in shape. No big deal, millions of Americans do it every year. And, like millions of Americans, you got a few weeks into it and you stopped. You slowly started eating too much of the wrong things and your gym attendance dropped off to nothing. Before you knew it you were right back where you started. Typically, this is the point when we go into “screw it” mode and put off our plan for a while, promising ourselves we’ll start jogging when it gets warmer outside, or go back to the gym when it’s less crowded. History will show us though, that when it gets warmer and the gym gets less crowded, we are too deep into our old bad habits and “screw it” mode turns into “maybe next year..” Still, it’s really no big deal, I totally get it. I’m going through the same thing myself right now. Except I’m past the “screw it” and “maybe next year” modes and have moved on to “Dammit! You do this every figgin’ time!”
I started my grand re-invention a year ago when I turned 50, and I made great strides in accomplishing my goals. I lost weight, I increased my strength and endurance and even ran my first 10K. Well, I kind of ran a 10K, I trotted through most of it and walked the rest of the way, running as much as I could every now and then just to get it over with. I ended up with my feet cramping so bad my wife pretty much had to carry me back to our car, all the while strangers kept asking if I needed medical attention. It didn’t matter though, even if they were sincere, and some of them probably were, I didn’t care. It was a victory to me and I was pretty stoked about my accomplishment, after the pain went away and I could walk again that is.
But now, after a full year of hard work, watching what I ate and reaching many of the goals that I set, I pissed it all away in a matter of a few months. My diet, my workouts, even this blog all got neglected this past winter. All it took was cold weather to arrive, getting hit with the flu and of course the biggest villain to anyone’s diet and exercise program: the holiday season. Before I knew it, I was pretty much right back where I started. I’m pushing 220 pounds, I can’t run for more than ten minutes without gasping for air and I even need to suck in my gut when I put last year’s fat pants on. Last year’s fat pants! Those were the pants that were two sizes larger in the waist and I would put on after large meals or wear to any event when overindulging on food and alcohol was required. Now they’re no longer Fat Pants; they’re just pants. And they’re I’m afraid they’re a bit snug.
Nope. there’s no denying it, I blew it. Many people would say I did all that hard work for nothing, right?
One needs to look at it on a grander scale. My epic quest for fitness is not all that different than the Apollo Space Program, where the United States of America put men on the moon and returned them back to earth again. Now before you roll your eyes and think that I’m exaggerating my plight, consider this:
The concept of landing on the moon was first considered during the Eisenhower Presidency in the late fifties, and then years later, President John F Kennedy formally proposed the endeavor in an address to Congress on May 25, 1961. So, later that year, did America cheer as astronauts planted the flag on the moon’s surface? Hell no. Neil Armstrong didn’t take his giant leap for mankind until July 20th, 1969, more than eight years after Kennedy’s speech! It wasn’t an easy eight years either. There were a bunch of setbacks and accidents. Designs were scrapped and new plans had to be made. Lives were lost and equipment was destroyed, but each time the program was facing failure, NASA made the necessary adjustments and continued to persevere until they successfully completed their mission.
But after all that hard work, only a total of six moon landings were made, and the Apollo program ended in 1972. But they didn’t just quit, they moved on to other endeavors, like Skylab. Skylab was the United States’ first and only space station and orbited the Earth from 1973 to 1979. They conducted many scientific experiments and tests and learned quite a bit. But when its orbit began to decay and it fell into the ocean they moved on to the Space Shuttle Program. Again there were accomplishments and failures but the program was successful, launching many satelites and more expeirments in orbit. The Shuttle Program ran for close to thirty years until it was no longer practical, which brings us to where we are today with the international space station. After that, who knows what the next step is, Mars? Jupiter? Maybe even back to the Moon again?
I have no idea, and at this point, if you’re still reading this I doubt you care. Sorry about that, I didn’t intend for this to become a lesson in American space exploration. The point I’m driving at is that like NASA, all that work I did wasn’t for nothing, I learned a lot from it. I learned about what was and wasn’t effective for me, about how to push through tough times when your motivation just isn’t there, and mostly I learned how to recover from failure and what I need to do now to be successful in the future. I also learned that you are never truly finished, that when you reach a goal you need to adjust your sights and move on to the next objective. Don’t go crazy cause you lost twenty pounds, start pounding beers and throw away your fat pants. With that attitude you’re going to need them back.
The take away is this: You aren’t just going to make a resolution on New Year’s Eve and change your life forever, there’s going to be wins and losses, success and failure, highs and lows and times you may need to pull out your fat pants from the bottom drawer. And when you fail, don’t beat yourself up, You need to recognize your failure, adjust your plan and keep moving forward. And Never, Ever Quit.
So if you’re like me, and your New Year’s resolution crapped out, don’t give up! Pick your ass up off the couch, figure out where you went wrong and make the necessary adjustments. Then get back at it! Sure, your ambitions and goals may not be as earth-shattering as the space program, but then again, not needing a pair of Fat Pants this Thanksgiving will be way cooler than landing a rover on the surface of Mars.