One of life's greatest tragedies is never having started on the path towards something we deeply desire because of self-imposed limitations.
Are you limiting yourself because you are too scared to start or change, unmotivated, too distracted by things that are unimportant, or not understanding your purpose? Tomorrow is not guaranteed, here is how we start living for today.
We can get so easily caught in the daily rhythms of our lives that it takes a catastrophic event like a death or illness to shake us from our stagnant routines and remind us of what really matters.
"Two of the most valuable things we have are time and our relationships with other people." - C. Chang
There is an exceptional Ted Talk by Candy Chang on acknowledging what we want to do before we die. Her talk, linked in the above quote, calls listeners to remember how brief and fragile life can be, and not to be overtaken by life's many distractions.
Daily monotony, material obsession, and technological distraction are all major detractors from building genuine relationships or valuing each day, if we let them.
Finding Deep Meaning
Knowing your purpose in this world makes living in the present moment a much more clear and achievable task. Simon Sinek, TED speaker and creator of Start with Why, has a host of resources to help you dive into discovering life fulfillment, many of which were born out of his own painful journey to self-discovery.
It is one thing to know ones meaning and purpose, but it is another to act on it. Doing is usually the most difficult part of any large undertaking. If it weren't, then everyone would be a fit, tan, well-groomed, multi-millionaire.
Taking Actionable Steps
Fear is one form of paralysis that keeps us from doing the things that propel us towards success and happiness.
Mel Robbins, another well known TED and motivational speaker, talks about if-then planning and anchor thoughts as they relate to getting past fear in her book, The 5 Second Rule.
An anchor thought is a thought that is relevant to the situation you are about to enter that can calm you if you need it. It sets you up for success before you step into a situation you know you're afraid of.
Robbins uses the example of her fear of flying. As she starts to feel the gut reaction of anxiety as the plane ascends or undergoes turbulence, she shifts her thinking from the fuselage splitting in half followed by a fiery death to arriving at her destination and enjoying a pleasant meal with a client or family.
"Plan A, don't get nervous. BUT, if I get on the plane and I start to panic and start to feel afraid then I have my plan B." - M. Robbins
The point is, give your mind the context it's looking for, that way it doesn't escalate the fear and you can put the kibosh on anxiety before it hijacks your stomach and thoughts.
I can automatically think about this for myself when it comes to public speaking. It is something I absolutely dread and get unpleasant physical reactions to when I allow anxiety to take over the controls.
Instead of allowing myself to not saying anything at all because I'm so self-focused on everyone looking at me and staring at physical imperfections or waiting for me to trip on my words, I shift my thoughts to the value of what I have to say.
I recognize that what I have to say is important, and that if articulated well, they can absorb the information and then implement it into their own lives, thereby having an easier time because of it. This reduces my anxiety as it shifts my own focus off of myself and onto what's important - them.
The point to all of this, is that even the most successful people in the world struggle with the things you do. We are all human.
And we can also all learn from one another to better understand how to live our lives with meaning and fulfillment.
I want this of you! My yells of encouragement from the room I currently sit in only go so far, so join the self-made movement to receive email updates with more helpful content.
It was December 3rd, 2017 as Nick Bassett sat in front of his computer eagerly anticipating the announcement of the Western States Endurance Run (WSER) runners.
This 100 Mile race uses a lottery selection process due to the high number of entrants every year. Out of approximately 15,000 tickets, Nick's was the first drawn.
To you and I, that's pretty awesome. But what it meant to a man who just had his 73rd birthday, could hardly be articulated in words.
For many years, the historic Western States Trail served as a direct route for the '49ers to travel between the gold camps of California and the silver mines of Nevada. With exception of a scant three miles of pavement, the race follows these trails in their natural state starting in Squaw Valley and ending in Auburn, California.
The Western States Endurance Run (WSER) climbs approximately 18,090 feet of elevation and descends another 22,970 from start to finish. On this particular summer day of 2018, temperatures would flirt with 100 degrees as racers battled their way through the rugged terrain.
WSER also follows a strict list of performance rules that each runner must abide by, including:
Ready to run the WSER for the 14th time, these rules weren't new to Nick. Yet, what was new was how his body, now nine years older than the last time he ran the race, would handle 100 miles of grueling terrain, heat, and continuous movement.
The Value of Preparation
"Wars are won in the generals tent." - S. Covey
When it comes to running 100 miles all in one go, there are two, sometimes three, ways to prepare effectively:
At 73 years old, one has to be slightly more strategic with training than say, someone 50 years younger.
Nick runs or walks a bunch of volume on his own, and our training at the gym is completely geared to enhance his ability to move for longer, faster.
We work to strengthen his entire body and improve his mobility and stability.
Passion is in the process
The obvious question you would ask any ultra runner is, "why?". It's not for the recognition, not for Nick anyway. Being the oldest finisher in WSER history earned him an overwhelming amount of publicity, but it was the first time in his racing career that so many admirers flocked his way to get a comment, shake his hand, or snap a picture.
What makes endurance runners unique is their insatiable desire to push limits--for a long time. A 20 mile training run isn't something they dread, especially not when with friends. It's a social outing, a way to connect with others, themselves, and nature.
I would imagine we can all find some way to relate. The amateur musician who practices for hours on end to play in front of the local pub crowd. The parent who reads every book they can get their hands on to raise a happy and healthy child. The researcher who works late into the night bent over a microscope looking for the next discovery.
For me, I can only relate it to playing basketball or CrossFit, and using that passion as a way to escape from the daily stresses of life and grow the physical and mental.
The point is, we can all relate to passion, and no one has to understand our passion except ourselves.
This is why the great ones separate themselves from the rest, they are willing to do things others are not.
They are willing to grind, hustle, suffer, endure, and grow.
Not through short cuts.
Not by laying around waiting for something great to happen.
By going out and working damn hard for it.
"Now it is being decided whether, in the day of your supreme sorrow or temptation, you shall miserably fail or gloriously conquer. Character cannot be made except by a steady, long continued process."
Sometimes it's hard not to want for more in our lives, especially in challenging moments.
What we often don't think though, is what is this - whatever is happening - teaching us right now? What is it doing for us, not to us?
It could be an event, a person, a decision, gum on your shoe, or whatever. It may feel unfair, like circumstance has gotten you to this point or things just flat out beyond your control, and you start to tell yourself, "Gosh.. if only... [insert lame excuse that seems valid at the time]."
Stop it! First of all, a garden of weeds is not something you want to be growing, weeds of course being a metaphor for jealousy, comparison, regret, frustration, disappointment, and other negative emotions.
Instead, focus on weeding out those negative emotions and replanting them with things you would actually want and be proud of.
For example, when you feel a twang of jealousy toward another, try replacing that with admiration and respect.
If possible, show that person that you admire them, that's a beautiful thing! You never know what that small act of appreciation could do for them OR you in that moment.
Or if it's nicer things you want, turn that thought into being grateful for what you have now, and you may very well realize it's more than enough.
If you feel regret, which can be a deeper rooted weed, try approaching one or more of the people involved in whatever situation caused those feelings, and do what you need to to make peace with it. Not easy, I get it; but, very liberating!
If you feel sadness or disappointment, for example maybe you failed at something important to you - an exam, a relationship, a set at the gym, an assignment at work - replace that negative emotion or circumstance with determination, grit, and getting back on your feet!
Failure is a completely normal process in life, and the way you respond to it is what will make you a stronger individual.
Another thought for you?
Don't piss on anyone else's garden. Yeah, you read that right.
Just because yours isn't green (yet) doesn't mean you need go around turning anyone else's yellow.
Focus on making yourself the best version you can be and then bottle up that Miracle Grow and go sprinkle it around on others grass!
Have an awesome day.
Author: Kylie Viens, RDN
If we think of our body as if it were a car, we know our car needs adequate fuel to start and get us where we need to go. Our bodies truly are no different, as they need optimal fuel to “go”—not to mention, thrive and survive.
If you were to think of eating as a way of refueling, and base your decisions purely off of how your body would respond, would your food choices change? What if you had no tastebuds and an infinite amount of money. What would you eat then?
Having a healthy relationship with food is a very important and not commonly talked about issue in our society. The following article is one Registered Dietitian Nutritionist's brief insight onto the topic!
It's very normal for me to hear from my patients that when they eat better they feel better, and science continues to prove this reflection as having much validity.
The answers to what I've asked you so far are fairly obvious, but we are emotional and feeling beings, thusly not every food will provide us with the same sense of satisfaction.
All foods whether they are nutrient dense or not, serve a purpose—some for nutrition, some for the soul, and that's okay!
The 80/20 Rule
No one has a perfect diet (even dietitians!); however, there is a rule that applies to many aspects of life called the Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule.
This isn’t a bad way to look at the big picture, meaning that if you can focus on nutrient dense foods 80% of the time, and enjoy your grandma’s homemade macaroni and cheese or brownies 20% of the time—there’s a good chance you will maintain a healthy weight and lessen your risk for chronic diseases.
You could also think of filling your plate following this rule!
A healthy relationship with food most certainly includes our comfort food favs as it helps us be in tune with what will both satisfy hunger and our tastebuds. Further, it is not absurd to eat outside of physical hunger, or something we should be guiltily beating ourselves up about.
There are many reasons as to why we eat other than just responding to our biological hunger signals.
In terms of emotional eating, food will not fix feelings of boredom, stress, procrastination, depression, sadness, anxiety, and so forth.
Although a normal reaction to reach for food, it is important to find healthy ways to cope with emotional feelings outside of eating.
Listen to your Body
Eating should be an enjoyable experience! Unfortunately, the society we live in today has made that more than a challenge for many. Eating should not create feelings of regret, remorse, guilt, or questioning one’s will-power!
Physical activity, meditation, talking to a friend or family member, starting an art project, and gardening are just some examples of “outs” for people without pursuing food to suppress feelings.
If you are interested in taking your commitment level up a notch, personal food logs can be a valuable tool for assessing not only the type and quantity of food and beverage consumption, but also our feelings before, during, and after eating a particular meal or snack.
*I have no stake in the recommendation of this book.
Eating healthy doesn't have to be such a puzzle or stressful part of your day. There are simple tips, like the 80/20 rule and eating intuitively that can help you make good decisions in regards to your diet.
Basketball was a game I loved the day I picked up a ball, and have been very fortunate that it has exposed me to many places, people, experiences, and opportunities.
However, the going was not easy, not by any measure of the word. As a Certified Strength & Conditioning Coach and Certified Personal Trainer, I look back at the days of my young ignorance and think about all the things I could have done differently to be more successful.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, but this is a big reason I love what I do now! Here's a bit about my story, and five lessons learned. My advice? Learn them and start actively working on them now, they make a tremendous impact not only as an athlete, but in your life.
The Imperfectly Perfect Journey
High school: Kodiak, Alaska
I was a long, lanky, average athlete, with no formal training to improve my athleticism, zero knowledge or experience with lifting weights, didn't have cable TV and YouTube wasn't a thing yet, so I didn't watch much basketball.
The one saving grace, is I was fortunate to come from a community (and state) that LOVES basketball and an outstanding high school coach who had played in college and professionally.
Not knowing how I was going to get recruited to college, I picked my best game, made a bunch of copies, packaged them up and mailed them off to coaches with personal letters.
Out of desperation, I also got on board with a recruiting service who helped get my name out to coaches. I thought I was D1 caliber, hilarious.
I fundraised to travel with my summer team, the Alaska Stars, and stayed with a family in Anchorage for the summer so I could practice with them. Now playing with some of the best talent in the state, I realized I was still a decent player, but had a ton to improve on.
I also still knew nothing about what it would really take to play at the next level, and would soon learn the hard way...
College: The University of Alaska Anchorage
I was fortunate to get picked up by my home state college, the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA), who at the time was (and still is) a Division II powerhouse.
I soon learned that the jump from high school to college was substantial. Every practice felt like trying to scramble up that super steep wall on America Ninja Warrior.
For two years the top of that wall was unattainable, and some days it felt like my coaches were at the top pointing and laughing, telling me to just give up already.
I slowly began to believe that maybe that was the best option, that the weight and dread I felt with the mere thought of going to practice was stronger than my love for the game and desire to represent my hometown.
It was a merciless, daily battle. No one cared if you were sick, unless it was highly contagious.
No one cared if you were hurt, I specifically remember our coaches telling us we were not to go to the training room unless something was torn or broken.
And no one cared why you didn't do something the way it was asked of you, if it wasn't done right, you were getting yelled at.
I was put in my place real quick, ultimately spending that first year as a redshirt, meaning I was able to practice with the team, but not play in games and still have four years of eligibility.
It was not pretty, as oftentimes things worth fighting for aren't, and a lesson in what collegiate athleticism and expectation looked like and would cost to attain.
The Fuel That Sparked The Rise
At the end of my (second) freshman year, the assistant coach who had made my life hell for the last two years blatantly looked me in the eye and said "Alysa, you stay where you are right now and you're not going to play more than 5 minutes next year."
I was crushed.
I had worked every day as hard as I could in practice, spent extra time, usually at 6am or 10pm (the only time the gym was free), and did everything that was asked of me without complaint and silent anguish, oftentimes surfacing alone in tears of frustration.
As I drove to my dorm after hearing the most blunt, honest, and what felt unfair words I'd heard in my life, I became increasingly angry.
I took 3 days off. Enough time to pack up my stuff to head home for the summer and let that brutal statement really sink in.
Then it was time to get to work.
I ordered a weighted basketball and started googling drills to improve my athleticism and skills.
For that entire summer I was obsessed with improving, and more importantly, still angry. It was my fuel.
Everyday I didn't want to wake up to go play with a bunch of guys at 6am, I remembered what my coach had said, and got out of bed.
Everyday I felt too sore to get in another workout, I remembered how crappy it felt to sit at the end of the bench, and went to the gym.
Everyday I wanted to go to a party with my boyfriend and friends, I remembered getting last in sprints, and went to bed so I could wake up early for a track workout instead.
I'm not exaggerating, I was as all in as a player in a high stakes game of poker. It was so important to me I was willing to sacrifice things other people were not, and if it didn't work out this time, it wasn't meant to be. #NoSocialLife
The Pressure that led to the Fall
The next year was completely different. Suddenly I found myself starting, scoring more points in my first game than I had the entire last season combined.
I had finally made it to the top of that seemingly impossible Ninja wall.
Yet, this wasn't even close to the start of a happy ending as I would soon learn there is a price with success and it's adversity's distant cousin, pressure.
My junior year I didn't know how to handle the pressure, I was at risk of losing my starting spot to a junior college transfer and literally made myself sick with stress, missing our first road trip because I was stuck in the Emergency Room with painful abdominal cramping. I was ashamed and shocked that my body had quit on me.
I never reclaimed my starting spot that entire year, but we went on to Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament, a trade off I would make every time! #TeamFirst, baby.
Adversity strikes again
Another high led to another low, and soon after our NCAA Tournament run we found out that our coach had been up to some shady things and was forcibly resigning.
The immediate disappointment shook all of us, so much so that many of the better players didn't return and we had NO recruiting class going into my senior year.
The stress was starting to come back, but this time I was thankfully more prepared.
Our new coach, who remains as the current coach for the UAA women's team, had to go to intramural games to find us a couple more players so we could even practice 5 on 5.
Expectations were drastically different than the year prior to preform, as we were so young and undermanned that if either the Point Guard or myself had a bad game, we would not win, and that's not to sound cocky at all, it was the unfortunate truth.
Thus, with every game came a family reunion of pressure and adversity, because winning was and will always be more important - regardless of who you are or if you actually think this - than individual success or accolades.
Against all odds, we somehow managed to have a winning season (17-10), which was a record I felt more proud of than any year previous because it required excellence on every level from many people. A true team effort, and perhaps another story for another time!
Professional Career: Germany And Australia
Finally, after years of dreaming, setting goals, and working relentlessly towards them, I was fortunate enough to finally live my ultimate dream of playing professional basketball.
My journey after college took me overseas to Germany, where I played one year for a club called TSV Viernheim and then returned the following year to play for another club, the GiroLive Panthers of Osnabrück.
After nine months abroad my second year, I immediately flew 16 hours from Germany to Australia and played out the last four months of my career for the Logan Thunder in Brisbane.
Five Key Lessons Learned
This is one of thousands of student athlete experiences in one sport, and it is my only wish by sharing my story that it helps young student athletes overcome their own Ninja Warrior walls in sports and in life.
I will tell you right now, those experiences were hard at the time, but have had immense impact on how I handle things in my now, daily "adulting" life.
There are five major take aways from this story:
Choose your circle wisely
Who you surround yourself with has a tremendous influence on who you will become and is reflective of who you are.
These will be the people who are either going to the gym with you to get up extra shots or the ones egging you on to come to a party with them. They'll be the ones who are skipping class or getting an extra hour of study hall with you.
Bottom line: do they make you better or do they bring you down?
Seek the Truth
It takes a person of high character to actively seek out information (particularly about themselves) that they may not want to hear, but need to hear.
This is where your circle comes in to play. Surround yourself with people who care about you so much they are willing to tell you something you need to hear in order to help you, and are willing to say it even if it makes you mad or upset.
Remember, it's never easy to hear those types of things. After all, the saying "the truth hurts" exists for a reason, but it will ultimately make you better.
No matter how much or how little success you are having at this moment, do not stop working. You have to believe in your ability to reach your goals and that hard work will pay off, it always does.
Now, there is a massive difference between believing in yourself and being entitled to an outcome because you think you've worked hard for it. This goes back to having solid people you trust to be honest with you.
Here's the kicker though, you must be receptive to what they say and at all costs avoid shooting the messenger!
You are enlisting the help of someone to give you a different perception than your own, which is absolutely critical for your growth as a player and person.
Have Selective Hearing
The one voice you need to be listening to, even if you are not religious, is the voice of faith. Faith, or believing in yourself, is the voice that will tell the critiques and fans to be silent, because they don't know your process.
They don't know the sweat, blood, and tears that you put in; they don't know what you are working towards; and really, they don't know you.
Trust the process
If you haven't noticed already, the four lessons before this are all interwoven in some way.
Ultimately, these all constitute your process, and when you are confident that you are doing things the right way, which is in accordance with your values and vision, then you must trust that with persistent action and work, you will get to where you want to go.
There will undoubtedly be times you are tested on this, and your tests may come at times when you aren't ready for them, that's why it is so important to have good people in your circle you can lean on and to help you through.
They are there not only to tell you what you need to hear, but to be positive with you when you are having a hard time doing that for yourself.