It was over 12 years ago that I sought out the advice of a friend of mine. I was about to start a new “job” – Stay At Home Dad/Homemaker. This friend had done it for several years (an incredible story for another time). I trusted his judgement and advice. He started with 2 words – “Embrace It”. I remember cocking my head as if to ask, “what do you mean?” He told me that too often, whether or not a father had chosen to or had been forced to due to circumstance to become a Stay At Home Dad, men would brush off the title as a “temporary gig”. They would always follow up “I’m a Stay At Home Dad” with some kind of qualifier – “but it’s temporary” or “but I’m really a salesman, actor, lawyer, construction worker, businessman”, etc, etc. He told me that if I didn’t jump in with two feet, I would be unhappy and as a result, so would my kids.
“You’ve got to completely embrace that this is what you do. Yes, you are your kid’s dad, but you’ve got to understand that this will be the hardest, most rewarding job you will ever have…but only if you embrace it,” he said.
It sounded like sage advice to me, and so I did – and I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. What I have discovered years later it that the advice, when truly boiled down to its essence was not about child-rearing – it was about being happy with one’s self and embracing the choices made.
Recently a friend of mine, knowing that I am this close to getting my CSCS certification asked me for some advice. This person wanted to lose some weight and do some body sculpting by a certain date for a big event in the late Fall. After an intake interview, I drew up a plan that included both nutritional and exercise goals. Both started off very easy, practically guaranteeing early successes at small tasks requiring very little time that would serve as a foundation for the more intense and difficult work ahead. Although this person asked about specific exercises, I made it clear that we wanted to start easy to make sure there was a foundation in place when we introduced specific exercises later on.
From the start though there were excuses – I’m going to a party. I didn’t sleep well last night. It was a busy day. I pushed back a little bit with encouragement and a reminder of what the ultimate goal was and the fact that the current time demands were minimal.
Change is hard. I get it. It’s easier for some than others. Jess will tell you that I will change, but like a huge super-sized steamship on the ocean, it takes me a while to make a turn in a different direction – I’ll get there, but it takes a little while. I truly understand that making a change is scary, difficult and most of all, overwhelming even when the changes are small. After consecutive days of excuses, I stopped talking as Friend Luau and brought out Trainer Luau – I told my friend that change wasn’t going to happen simply by thinking about it. In order to achieve the stated goals, work was going to have to be done on a regular, consistent, daily basis.
“Fortunately,” I said, “there is a specific goal, both physically and chronologically. It gives you an endpoint, a peak, a destination.”
And then I remembered my friend’s advice from so many years ago.
I then said, “in order to achieve the stated goal, you’re going to have to embrace the program, make it a priority OR embrace where you are and be happy with that. There’s nothing wrong with that. But if you half-ass it, you’re not going to be happy with the results because you’ll feel like you are over-sacrificing for less that optimal returns.”
We’ll see what happens.
I understand that not everyone is gung-ho about fitness and/or running like I am. I understand that embracing the vehicle of change is not easy for most (including myself).
I’m not sure what it is I am trying to convey in this post other than this – if you have a fitness goal and you are presented with a choice between immediate gratification that works against that stated goal and the goal itself, take a moment to think about what it is you really want. There’s nothing wrong with a day of debauchery every now and again – in fact, I highly recommend it to keep yourself sane, but at some point, a consistent choice has to be made, especially when there is a time aspect to your stated goal – am I happy where I am? or do I want to achieve this goal? And if you consistently choose the immediate gratification over the fitness goal, don’t beat yourself up for it. Perhaps you didn’t really want that goal in the first place. Perhaps that goal was placed there by others or by society.
Choose the spot where you will be happy and then embrace it because ultimately, happiness is beautiful.