Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Courage and Determination: How to Tap into Yours

I was recently at a friend's blog (Carla Birnberg) where she did a post based on someone she happened to notice (with the help of her observant young daughter) who was doing tricep dips in a wheelchair. This was incredible to see,and she said that it must have taken some true "grit."

I agree that it is truly impressive.

Lately, I don't think I've have been showing any grit in my endeavors.

However, back when I was first trying to lose the excess weight (I lost over 145 lbs and went from morbidly obese to a healthy BMI), I think I did show grit.

You see, I had a condition known as plantar fasciitis, and what it boils down to is this: My heels were chronically inflamed. My heels were always swollen and in pain. Standing felt like I was standing with knives sticking into my heels and every step felt as if the knives were being turned and slid in deeper. And it was constant.

I am reminded of the original Hans Christian Anderson version of "The Little Mermaid," where, when she walked on human legs, it felt like she was walking on knives. Once I developed plantar fasciitis, I knew how she felt.

Despite this constant pain and the fact that just walking across the room was painful enough to bring tears to my eyes, one of the ways I lost the weight was through walking. I walked everywhere, miles and miles every day. When I got up each morning, the pain would be so bad that I stooped and shuffled painfully to the bathroom, wincing with each step. Out in public, the pain was just as bad, but I walked straight and with a fast pace, because I didn't want anyone seeing me to realize how much pain I was in. I even went on hiking trips with my husband and we hiked up mountains.

The doctors tried steroid injections, and they worked for a couple of months - and then they didn't. I was told that I could have a surgery on my heels which only had a 50-50 chance of working. I was NOT told that losing weight would help, and yet, after I lost a significant amount of weight, the pain went away.

Wish I could find some of that grit again now though.

I don't remember where, along my weight loss journey, the pain from my plantar fasciitis went away. I just know that somewhere along the way, I had lost enough weight that I no longer had the chronic pain.

And here's where I make a confession.

 I have mentioned before that I have let some of the weight I lost creep back on. Although I have still lost a lot of weight overall, I have gained enough of it back that my plantar fasciitis is back too. I see it as my wake-up call. It's time to find my grit. It's time to get back that courage and determination I somehow found years ago when I first started this weight loss journey.

My bus driver missed my stop today and wouldn't let me off until the next stop, and I was literally in tears about the pain the extra walking caused. I don't want to be this person. I will not suffer chronic pain when it is perfectly in my control to do something about it.

But how am I going to tap into that determination again? How do I find the courage to start walking despite the pain, as I did at the beginning of my weight loss journey all those years ago? And how did I find it back then?

And you might be wondering how you can tap into that determination and courage too. So I have made a list.

1. Make a decision. You have to make the decision to do whatever it takes to reach your goals. You have to decide that nothing is going to be allowed to get in your way. When my husband gave up smoking (before we met), he had to make a decision. He had to say to himself that he wasn't going to smoke another cigarette ever.

2. See yourself as the person you want to be. When I first started working out and eating healthy, my perception of myself changed. I started to see myself as someone who cared about her health, as someone athletic. I started to visualize myself as the person I hoped to become through my healthy journey. Healthy, fit people didn't binge on cookies, so neither did I. When my husband gave up smoking, he no longer considered himself a smoker; he was a non-smoker or an ex-smoker, but he no longer saw himself in the same cigarette-smoking light because that would have made it easier to fall back into bad habits. Non-smokers don't pick up cigarettes and start smoking.

3. Remind yourself why you are doing it. Everyone has their own reasons for wanting to attain a goal. My reasons are personal ones. I want to be healthy for myself, so that I no longer experience chronic pain. I want to be healthy for my children, so that I can not only be a good example for them but also so that I will be around for a long time in their lives. I want to be healthy for my husband, so that he never has to become my caretaker and do things for me due to me no longer being able to do them myself. I feel better when I am a healthy weight, and I am more confident.

4. Take the first step. Whether it is eating a healthy lunch, skipping dessert, going to the gym, going for a long walk or joining a slimming club, taking the first step towards your goal is paramount in making sure you are going to achieve it.

5. Take the next step and then the next... Each step you take is another step towards your goal, and, if you get yourself to take each step, eventually all of those little steps are going to add up and you will find yourself closer to your goal than you imagined.

6. Reward yourself along the way. I'm not talking about giving yourself some dessert because you've been "good" all week. I'm talking about buying a new dress to suit your new size or getting a new haircut. Going out with friends can be a reward you give yourself. Doing anything that feels like a reward but doesn't set you back in reaching your goal, and planning it ahead for all of those smaller milestones along the way, can give you something to look forward to and more impetus to reach your goal.

7. Don't give up. Even when you do take a step backwards, don't throw in the towel. Keep going. For every step back, become even more determined to take several steps forward. There will be times when it seems harder than usual; don't let those times keep you from continuing. The only thing that can keep you from reaching your goal is you.

How determined are you?


  1. I love your list and your determination shines through. You'll do it, never fear, and that pain will be a thing of the past.

    1. Thanks, Deniz. Looking at the positive, at least the pain is a constant reminder to me of why I am doing this so it will make it easier to stick to it.


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