August 10, 2010

What Have You Done Today?

What have you done today to make you feel proud?

As I hopped on the treadmill to pound out a few "required" miles for my upcoming 1/2 marathon training program, the above lyrics (from the inspiring song "Proud" by Heather Small) popped onto my iPod. Between the strength in her voice and the challenge of the workout I was doing, it really hit home: what do we do, each and every day, to find pride in our accomplishments?  How do you find your bene-fit?

So many of those new to exercise become unmotivated when large-scale results don't happen quickly enough - for example, when they can't lose 10 pounds in a week even though they've worked out each day, or when they are still struggling to run a full mile after building up a base for nearly a month.  The problem, of course, isn't the lack of trying - it might just be the lack of pride.

Those of us who grew up in more traditional households may subconsciously regard pride as a sin - a sign of vanity or preoccupation with oneself.  However, pride in your accomplishments - real, valid efforts - is quite the opposite.  People are drawn to self-confidence and autonomy that comes without arrogance or attitude.  Realizing your worth and articulating the bene-fits of your healthy lifestyle choices should bring you joy.

I once trained for - and finished! - a marathon.  I trained hard for 20 weeks, running through rain and pushing past my comfort zone, and when I finished I felt a sense of pride that I thought would never be matched.  How could anything else compare to the feeling of overcoming a huge obstacle like running 26.2 miles?

A year later, my Mom expressed interest in running her first 5K (3.1 mile) race.  I assured her I would train her up for the distance and run it alongside her.  Lo and behold, we finished the race side-by-side in under 45 minutes - our original goal time!  The pride I felt for her - knowing she had worked so hard and come so far - was greater than any of my own accomplishments, marathon included.  Feeling as though I was a partner in her success was more important to me than any 20-mile run or early-morning bicycle ride.

As a bene-fit trainer, I am lucky enough to experience these incredible moments on a regular basis.  However, too often I find that my own enthusiasm for my clients' successes - from completing their first unassisted pull-up to finally being able to balance in the boat pose without tipping over - exceeds their own.  Many folks are remiss to celebrate the fruits of their labor and actually express pride in their growth.

Today I ask you to think about the little things that make your heart proud.  Whether honoring yourself or a loved one, sometimes offering praise in someone's accomplishments - the smaller the better, as those are the ones that seem to go overlooked most often - is a surefire way to keep them on track toward reaching their larger goals.  Compliment a coworker's healthy lunch, tell your son or daughter you're inspired by their sports participation, or look in the mirror and find a muscle you've recently worked to develop and thank your body for putting it there.  Find the bene-fit of pride and share it with others this week!

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