-I used to love running, but then I gained weight.
-When I was younger, I would swim for hours on end!
-Before I got pregnant, I was a huge cyclist!
But why is it always “used to” be active? Why don’t I hear “continuing to” be active?
People of all ages, shapes and sizes approach me with their “used tos” and all their reasons why they no longer engage in the activities they loved so dearly. My heart breaks when I hear of stories of those becoming complacent.
I used to have a “used to” story as well.
I grew up as a competitive gymnast. One day, after fracturing my back, my doctor told me I could no longer compete. Though brokenhearted, I quit the sport. And began to make excuses for why I could not be active. I focused on my studies and found other hobbies.
Though my doctor only told me to quit gymnastics, I extrapolated his diagnosis to other areas of my life. I didn’t have any reason to. I occasionally would go for walks with friends, mainly to socialize, but that was the extent of my activity.
And today? Well...I’m an Ironman finisher. That’s a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, completed with a marathon all in the same day.
Not bad for someone with a “bad back,” right?
So what changed? I stopped making excuses. On the day I quit gymnastics, nothing else sounded appealing to me. Initially, I tried to find other ways to be active, but nothing lasted very long, and eventually I gave up all together.
Typically we come to belief systems because they are efficient. People tend to make decisions based on an estimation of probabilities. We take a little data and generalize it to everything. They save us time, energy, and effort; they give us a reason to stay in our own comfort zone; they keep us from failure and embarrassment. We take the advice of trusted people, family friends, doctors, teachers and experts. We allow them to shape us. The original purpose of this belief formation process is to prevent us from harm, when we are children. As adults we tend toward the same style of forming our beliefs, but chances are that this is no longer serving us to reach our goals and deepest desires.
This is why we become people who “used to” – because it’s easier to make excuses than to lose the weight, get back in the pool after years without swimming, or try a new, intimidating activity.
But when we decide to confront and challenge those limiting beliefs we put upon ourselves, amazing things can happen.
When I decided to do an Ironman triathlon, I came face-to-face with my limiting beliefs about what I could and could not do. What I quickly found was that when I told myself I couldn’t do this, I was right. But when I told myself I could, I was right then, too. I began to ask myself, “what do I need to do to make it happen?” The question, “how can I?” rather than “can I?” is a powerful difference. Fulfilling an intention with determination, motivation, and perseverance is quite different from evaluating if I should take action or not.
I had to generate new beliefs and grow into the person I wanted to be. I needed a new support system too – one that didn’t allow me to be complacent. I joined a few athletic clubs and met other women who liked to exercise. In time, my fears, insecurities, and old habits that no longer served me anymore, I let go completely. This process did not happen overnight, but with the proper guidance and support it can happen for you too.
It was uncomfortable, at times, but necessary to confront the limitations I had created for myself. In the end, though, I value the person I became as a part of this process.
Are you a “used to” or a “continuing to”?
It’s your pick. Choose wisely.
Get the support you need to make this happen in the Sports 4 Life Workshop this Fall. Each week we will cover a different topic. The group is designed to help you set goals and achieve them. Attend Proactive Physical Therapy, to repair the old injuries and eliminate pain that is preventing you from a more active life style. Do not settle for being a ‘used to.’ Become the person you fully want to be, and live a satisfying life.