I had an email conversation a few days ago that got me thinking about challenges. A friend was talking about how boring the food plan she received from her trainer was and how it was going to be hard to stick with it for the 9 weeks of her weight loss challenge. For those of you who know me or have followed my blog for much time, you've probably taken note that I'm always up for a good challenge and have competed in several weight loss challenges during my journey. I recently just concluded a 9 week challenge for Kansas City Fitness Magazine that I finished in 2nd place and I'm halfway through an 8 month challenge with Sylvester Powell Community Center that ends in January.
I'm thankful for my 8 month challenge because it offers more time to turn a challenge into a real change in our lives. The difference between a long term and short term challenge though is intensity. Short term weight loss challenges are like quick sprints to the finish line. It's a race that equally receives a reward, but it takes a different type of discipline and endurance than a long distance event. Keep in mind that BOTH require hard work and discipline though.
Now, I want you to think about a football player. He doesn't train the same way during off season as he does during pre-season or game season. He still has to take care of his body and exercise all throughout the year to stay in shape, just not as strictly. When it's pre-season and game season, he's beating his body harder than ever before and pushing himself to new limits. Putting in 5 hours at the gym and icing his knees at night may not be on his Top 10 "Likes" list, but he's an athlete in training and he's getting himself ready to perform!
I feel the same is true about short term weight loss challenges such as the Kansas City Weight Loss Challenge. For the 9 weeks that I "competed" against 20 other contestants, I trained harder and became a lot stricter in my daily routines because it was GAME TIME.
The awesome thing about game season is you learn what you are capable of accomplishing. You learn that what you thought was your limit can be far surpassed and personal records are broken when you put your mind to it and believe in yourself. You learn new disciplines and an obedience that is obtained from pushing beyond your comfort zone and laying all you've got out on the floor...at times that includes tears. Game season is when you find that spark buried deep within you and realize, "I can do this, I am stronger than my weakness and am capable of great things!" Game season comes to an end though, then what?
Weight loss challenges end. Football seasons end. Bootcamps end....then it's everyday life. Now's the time you are able to apply the disciplines you learned to your everyday living and there is more than just egg whites and exercise. The weight loss challenges, the sports seasons, the college semesters, the job training, the WHATEVER IT IS that you've spent a period of time disciplining your life with comes to an end and NOW is when we really start putting those lessons learned into action, now is the TRUE test of time.
Game season is followed by what many athletes call "off season."
OFF SEASON IS LIFE...
Off season is when the games are over, the 5 am training sessions aren't mandatory and everyone packs up their lockers to go back to everyday living - it's LIFE as we know it. I think most would agree that day-to-day living during "off season" is quite different than that of game season. It's not nearly as structured, its a lot more flexible, not as strenuous and stressful and not as demanding. You aren't pressured by anyone to perform and there is no longer an audience. IN WEIGHT LOSS, the "off season," is harder to manage and maintain than any game season! You are now your own accountability partner and continuing to live a disciplined healthy & active lifestyle is lying solely on you. There aren't anymore public weigh in's to keep you motivated, determination is the leading factor now. Do you have the determination to continue on, even when you may not be "motivated?" This is where you start to face YOU! You look in the mirror and you now have a choice to make for YOU! Are you going to continue living healthy for YOU? Do you feel like it's all still worth it when its just for Y-O-U??? Are there fears? Anxieties? Doubts? Insecurities? Do you still have that faith IN yourself to believe FOR yourself as you had when you were performing during "the challenge?" It's back to you now and whatever held you back from taking this weight off before doesn't magically disappear just because you pushed through a challenge. Did you shy away from trying because of internal fears of failure? Do you tend to do your best for everyone else? ...but what about for YOU? What if not another person in this world paid attention and/or cared - is your better health worth it for YOU? QUESTIONS? QUESTIONS?
I'm throwing out some of the "questions" of off season. This is where you will start to search your own heart and realize that if you are serious about this journey, at the end of the day you face no one other than you (and God). This is where some of the deeper mind and heart issues start to surface while you are living healthier and getting "better." Weight loss is kinda funny because I think it often starts on the outside but ENDS on the inside. It's like all that extra weight was a big scab and once you start to remove it the infection underneath starts coming out, but its so you can be HEALED!
CAN I ASK YOU A QUESTION?
How did you climb to the weight you reached? What held you back from living healthier BEFORE the challenge was introduced? Did you know overeating and food can be (not always, but can be) an addiction? Did you know that compulsive overeaters share a lot of the dependency traits as drug addicts? They say that others can hide their struggles but those who are overweight walk around displaying an outward sign of an inward issue. Again, not everyone has some deep, emotional explanation for their weight, but I believe a good percentage of overweight people do. What's been hiding behind all of your excess weight? Lonliness? Addiction? Stress? Broken family? Guilt? Rejection? Heartbreak? Death? Depression? Abuse? Self-esteem? Social anxieties? Keeping in pace may have been "easy" during a weight loss challenge when you were performing for others, afterall, who likes letting people down. But what really kept you back B E F O R E you took those first steps towards shedding the pounds? I'm asking because I promise you that those "inner issues" will start surfacing themselves on this road to better health and they don't necessarily go away after acknowledging them once. It's been 1 1/2 years now since I started my journey and I'm still learning more and more about myself (inside and out). I'm learning more about myself NOW than I ever have before in life. God is daily unsurfacing, healing and restoring me through weight loss. I'm learning what's held me back, what drives me forward and what throws me off course. I'm understanding that "inner fat girl" a little more through my experiences. I'm seeing the mental, spiritual, emotional and physical sides to my weight and it's not all easy, but it's worth it. I always tell people that eating right and even exercise really aren't that difficult, but overcoming the psychological (mental & emotional) parts of weight loss are a mountain to climb.
HOW DO YOU WEIGH-IN DURING "OFF SEASON?" Are you ready for the test of LIFE (inside and out)?
Galatians 5:13 (NIV)You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (NIV)
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.