I began my fitness journey on March 9, 2014. I’ve done the “diet thing” many times before. As a 47 year old adult female who has been overweight for most of her life, I have mastered the art of the excuse. I can justify nearly any unhealthy food or activity. I can procrastinate with the best of them, and the person it has harmed the most is me.
This time, it is different. My husband says he, too, can sense that this time, it is different. This time, it is about changing my life, and not just about doing what I need to do to make the numbers on the scale come down.
The difference, this time, is inspiration. With Robin Williams’ tragic death in the media this week, I will share that depression played a major role in this change. I was struggling with some issues that had me feeling awfully bleak. I was still struggling with my father’s death in early 2013. I was struggling with feelings of inadequacy as a partner, a mother, and a lawyer. I looked in the mirror and struggled with the signs of age and bad health. I was tired of the struggle. I was so unhappy that I lost sight of the many things that make my life so beautiful.
A series of coincidences, or perhaps providence, led me to step on the treadmill instead of eating a package of gluten free cookies or a chocolate bar. I have a group of people in my life who I refer to as my “invisible friends.” Some are ladies I met on or through an online “mom” forum I was active in for many years. Others are people who I met through DDP Yoga forums, or other lawyers I reached out to on Facebook. These people have played an important role in my journey.
When I posted in a “secret group” on Facebook that I was feeling very depressed, a mom suggested I join “Moms Run This Town.” I poo-poo’ed the idea. I never envisioned myself a runner. Soon, another invisible friend suggested we train online together for a 5k. Running took over my facebook feed as friends, both in real life and my “invisible” network, began sharing running posts.
One night, hurt, angry and sad, I brushed off the thick layer of dust that had settled on the treadmill, and I took that first step. I came back the next night, and the next. As is typically the case, life began to get in the way. One night as I was browsing Facebook instead of getting some exercise, I saw a conversation between two “invisible friends.” One asked the other how to ensure success at getting in shape. His response was a photo that said, “Commit.”
I found my inspiration in that graphic. I think of it daily. To succeed at something – anything, you must commit to succeeding. I found inspiration in the “cheers” that my running app sent my way when my friends “liked” my status that said I was on a run. Each cheer inspired me to take another step – to go another 1/10th mile.
I wasn’t sure how my friends would react. I worried that I would annoy them with my fitness posts. I kept posting anyway.
Soon, I began receiving messages. “I wanted you to know that you inspired me to get back to the gym.” “You inspired me to get moving.” “Thank you for sharing your journey. I wanted you to know that I joined a gym.”
I thanked each of them for reaching out, but on the inside, I was saying, “I’m not an inspiration. I’m a morbidly obese person whose bad decisions led to this state.” “I’m not worthy of being your inspiration.”
I started to craft a response that said I’m not someone to emulate- that I have too many weaknesses, I’m too flawed…” At that moment, I realized that inspiration is a very individual, personal experience. What right do I have to say that I’m not an inspiration? If someone can find inspiration in my words, my actions, or my photos, what right do I have to tell them they are wrong? In that moment I simply thanked God for the opportunity to inspire others.
I don’t write to inspire. I write because I really enjoy writing. If, however, it inspires you to look at a sunset, to buy a coffee for someone, to run a half marathon, to clean out your closet, or to bake a gluten free cake, that is a gift to me.
Find inspiration everywhere. The world is an awesome place. If someone inspires you, let them know. Don’t be afraid to share your accomplishments, no matter how insignificant you may feel they are, because someone somewhere may fin the inspiration to improve themselves through your example.
Every single day, you inspire someone to feel happy, or sad, or angry through your words and actions. Being mindful of that fact, choose to inspire others with love and kindness, with your positive energy and your lust for life.
You’re the inspiration.