The Fit Life – 2019.17 – Be Your Own Hero

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great”

– Zig Ziglar

Guest Post: By Wendy Pauls

2019 is a big year for me. It’s the year I turn 50. And to be honest, I don’t like the idea of getting older. So in my own version of a “mid-life crisis”, I registered for a Half Ironman race this summer. I want to prove to myself that I’ve still got what it takes to accomplish a tough physical challenge.

This may sound brave and admirable (or crazy?).  But I want to let you peek behind the curtain – to see the internal struggles that accompany this decision. Why? Because real life stories are filled with lessons. And my hope is that you can learn from my challenges and be encouraged to chase your own goals and dreams.

Most of my life I have avoided doing things that I’m not good at. I mean, who wants to look stupid or awkward in front of people? Not me. At least not if I have any choice in the matter. I now realize that I missed out on a lot of fun and interesting activities because of this decision. So registering for this race forced me to face something I had previously avoided. The swim. The dreaded swim. It’s not that I am afraid of the water. I can tread water and do the breast stroke quite comfortably. But I haven’t done the front crawl since I was a pre-teen.

Step one was simply a trip to the pool. And even that made me a wee bit uncomfortable. (Remember the part about avoiding things I’m not good at?). How do lane swims work? Which lane should I choose? I didn’t even realize that I needed a swim cap and goggles until my husband came to the pool with me one day! I was truly a beginner and that meant I needed to adopt a beginner mindset. I needed to be OK with NOT being good at this. I needed to be OK with accepting feedback and instruction. I needed to be OK with baby-step progress. And the only way I could be “good with it”, was to remind myself that I was a beginner and that we are all beginners at something.

Since then, I’ve had optimistic days and “what-the-hell-was-I-thinking-days”. I struggled a lot to figure out the breathing part of the swim. I was feeling completely winded after one length of the pool (and I have to do the equivalent of 78 lengths for the race!) And then there was my first open water swim.

A couple weeks ago, I went to Florida to train with my brother-in-law,  sister-in-law and a couple of their friends. They were competing in a 70.3 Ironman on April 14. My plan was to do some training with them leading up to their event, cheer for them on race day and watch and learn. We were on our bikes within about three hours of walking off the plane. We rode 60 km on day one followed by a quick swim in the lake. (Did I mention we were in Florida? Ummmm…did you know that there are approximately two million alligators in the state of Florida?)

The first challenge was to not dwell on the fact that I was sharing the water with alligators. The second challenge was putting on a wetsuit for the first time. The third was the fact that I COULDN’T SEE IN THE WATER! When I swim in the pool, I follow the nice thick black line painted on the bottom. When I first put my face in the lake, it was pitch black. All three of these challenges fit in the “what-the-hell-was-I-thinking” category. 

But alas, over my six days of training I clocked 290 km on the bike, several brick workouts (running immediately after getting off the bike) and several open water swims. My family and friends all completed their event successfully and I came home with a cautiously optimistic persecutive, “if I put in the training, I can do this”.

I hope you hear that…

  1. Most of what holds you back in life…most of what keeps you from chasing your goals and dreams is “in your head”. Trust me, I know that the obstacles FEEL real, and I also know that it’s easier to blame circumstances and/or other people for your inaction. But when you acknowledge that the obstacles are in your mind, you are now in control! You can make it happen. 
  2. Every expert was once a beginner. ’Nuff said.
  3. You will likely face several challenges in pursuit of a goal. Keep your eyes on your “why” (your reason for dong this) and manage your mindset. Your mind is powerful – it can work for you or against you. 
  4. We all need cheerleaders along the way. Gather support from your friends and family. When the going gets tough, they can coach you to the finish line. 

Whether you are a student, an executive, an athlete, a parent or entrepreneur; whether you work in IT, agriculture, hospitality or the arts – if you want to accelerate your progress and finally reach the finish line – I can help.


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63 days of – Action, Accountability and Achievement.

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