Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Are You Reaching For?

I don't care who you are or where you are going with your health and fitness, or even how you are getting there.  As we all know, the road to success is curvy with lots of available stops:  Weight Watchers, Low Carb, Calorie Counting, Intuitive Eating, Strength Training, Running, Exercise DVDs/TV, Walking; but aren't we all just trying to get 'there?'  Where our personal definition of success is.

I know from past experience, be it with my health and fitness or with a project I'm involved in, at some point I go from wanting success to knowing it's on the way,  because I feel 'the click."  That magic moment where it seems as if suddenly everything is falling into place and things start moving full steam ahead.

Ever since I started Doing A 180, I've been waiting for that click.  Actually, I started Doing A 180 thinking maybe it would be the clicker.  Unfortunately, as much as I've enjoyed this exercise of writing a few times a week, that click has been and continues to be elusive.

I also started taking Muay Thai boxing just a few months before I started writing Doing A 180.  I must admit since I started Muay Thai, I am definitely stronger and Mr. Helen says I've toned up. Both very good things, but still not achieving the weight loss that I'm looking for. So while Doing A 180 and Muay Thai have been beneficial they have not been the clickers I thought maybe they would be.

I am a fan of the Biggest Loser for both entertainment and the process of discovery the contestants go through.  I generally record it and watch it while running on my treadmill - talk about a show that makes you want to run your hardest and fastest ever!  Especially when there's a 450 pound man who discovers that he too can run.  This year the show has brought in two mystery trainers who were finally revealed during the last episode.  Turns out one of them is a martial artist - while his specialty is Capoeira, he also practices Muay Thai, which is the form of martial arts that I participate in.  You know for me it adds a dimension of excitement to the show this season.  Sure enough, while his group was doing their last chance workout, I was seeing some very familiar pad striking with both hands and knees - "Hey!  I do that!"  Fun to watch when you know what they're doing.

But Biggest Loser has given me some pretty uncomfortable moments in the last couple of weeks as well and started me thinking about that elusive click.

A couple weeks ago, Jillian was working with a participant doing boxing drills and she was trying to get him to extend his jabs so that he would get the most out of the drill. He kept stepping in and when he would strike the pad, his arm was still a bit bent at the elbow. Finally in frustration, she yelled "REACH!" He looked at her confused and she explained how he needed to fully extend his arm and reach for the pad. He tried again but, honestly, was doing these really wimpy punches. She stopped him and asked (paraphrased), "Have you always just half done everything? Have you ever really reached for anything in your entire life? Do you know the power you can get if you fully commit?"

This really struck a chord with me because Mr. Helen has been trying to help me in Muay Thai. I have a bad habit of stepping in and only get about 50% of the power I could be getting with my jabs. I'm learning to stop stepping towards the bag (or the person) and fully extend and REACH. Because the force of the jab is at the end of the reach.

Then this past week, new trainer Brett was working with a participant who seems to having trouble settling in and finding his way.  It's like there's so much chatter in his brain that he can't clear it enough to focus and get good results.  The participant was working out with Brett in a boxing ring doing pad striking and he would go at it and then he would just stop. Stop. Then say, "I can't."

In one of those aside interviews trainer Brett said, "I'm concerned for him because he shows these explosive moments of strength then he gets tired and he loses focus.  You've got to learn how to suck it up and focus when you're fatigued.  Just because you're having a bad day you can't just quit and go to food again."

It felt like he was talking to ME.  I got to my lowest post thyroid diagnosis weight in March of 2008.  Things were going swimmingly and then I had that thyroid freak out that made me gain 10 pounds in about 6 weeks.  It threw me for such a loop, I quit.  For the last 3 years, exactly how I've lived is to have explosive moments of strength followed by extreme fatigue and loss of focus:  sick of counting calories, sick of intuitive eating, sick of even thinking about food, sick of exercising, sick of it all dammit! I quit!

But I think I may have figured out how to stop exploding, begin to evenly measure out my strength and stay focused:  by asking myself, "What are you reaching for?"

Reaching is so much more than just being, just doing enough.  Just like reaching for a jab in Muay Thai, or running the last 3 miles of a marathon, this reaching involves sucking it up and focusing even when fatigued. There's a stretching process involved.  It's not always pleasant, but when you reach, things can be accomplished that you didn't even know were imaginable.

I can't help but think, I have to stop waiting for that click, I need to reach for it.


  1. Hi Helen, I've been reading your blog for some time and really enjoy your posts. Personal, insightful and well-written. This spoke to me today because just this week, I've experienced my own "click" but had been referring to it as an "ah-ha" moment. I much prefer the term "clicking" or "what am I reaching for?" It just fits me better! Thanks!

    I so loved your posts a while back where you told the story of you and Mr. Helen. Made me feel as if I really knew you!

    When we "reach," I believe it will "click!"

  2. Well said. Well said. I, too, am waiting for stuff to "click." I need to be more proactive. Or else I'm not going to get anywhere. Thanks for posting and pulling my eyelids back more. Thank you!

  3. but...i'm so freakin scared...

    You're inspiring!

  4. Very thoughtful Helen. I know I've reached a lot in the past, and I need to reach again now. It describes my process much better than a click. I don't think I ever had that single 'click' moment.

  5. Well put. I know exactly what you mean by hitting "the click". My current weight loss transformation seems to have found it as well. Cheers, Rick

  6. I know what you mean about the click. I had the click right after Thanksgiving, and I'm still going strong. I think we all also worry about when we will LOSE the click. I know I do, anyway. Right now it is easy to pass things up, or have reasonable servings, and I want to make that last!

  7. I love this post. Reaching for it - that makes so much more sense to me. People keep asking me what made it click and there was no one defining moment, which made me then wonder what was wrong with me. But I reached. That's it. And I'm still reaching, and boy, you are right about not reaching through the fatigue - I rarely push myself to do that, and that IS what it takes to get to the next level.

    This is it. I think this is going to be your benchmark post. Come back here in six months and you will say "yep...this is when I made the change that started everything."

  8. Helen this really hit a cord with me! I floundered for a few years and regained some weight. Those days turned into weeks, months and then years of just not being motivated to make change.

    Then I had the "click" and got motivated to get off my duff and make change.

    I could reach further and reach the next level of fitness it is right there within my reach.

    Thanks for this very motivational post.

  9. Such a wonderful post. So many things I can relate to. Like reaching and pushing myself beyond the comfort zone. Biggest Loser has been a big inspiration for me in that area (though I still hate the game play on the show).

    What you said about going full at it then becoming fatigued (fighting the weight, counting calories, etc) is so me too. I understand you. I work my butt off and there's a weight gain (muscle? hormones freaking out? insulin resistance? thyroid?) and I lose hope.

    Keep the faith. We can do this. I'm trying my best to embrace the fight as well as the victory.

  10. Wonderful post! We all reach for things that are easy to reach and convenient. Reaching further is tiring, but if you just reach a bit further each day, it gets a little easier. I need to channel some of that.

  11. Love the description of the Click. It can happen like a light switch ... the strength comes out of some magical place but it can shut off just as suddenly. You're so right. You have to reach and keep reaching even when it isn't easy. You can't depend on the click ... just the reach.

  12. I know what you mean about the "Click." I have also experienced it when trying to achieve something, but it's been a long time since I've felt it in terms of losing this weight. I think that I have also been waiting too long--and now I need to start reaching for it.

  13. You need to be the click you want to see in the world. ;-)

  14. Fantastic post Helen, thank you. I feel like I have been searching and waiting for something to click for years. I now know that I need to get on with things, because it's just not going to happen that way for me. I think instead of waiting for something to happen for me, I need to reach, like you said and make it happen myself. I know that I can do 100% better than I am doing. Why I am not, I'm not sure. I am determined though to keep pushing myself and really make some serious progress this year, once and for all.

  15. Wow, Helen, that was so insightful, well said and beautifully written. I wish I could REACH out and hug you.

  16. I had a comment
    I lost my comment

  17. Great post Helen!
    I don't think I ever had that click too, I just started but many, many times never reached to push further, especially at weight loss.

    But one thing I do and keep reaching out is running. Strange enough I can push myself further. If I'm doing a long run and I want to quit, I know I want to tell my hub or my blogger friends that I did xxx miles and not that I quit halfway and that keeps me pushing myself.

    Regarding weight loss I'm going to rethink your post towards myself.


  18. How did I miss this post yesterday?? Ah, the elusive click, when everything is going along great. Focused, knowing where you want to be, etc.

    I still haven't finished watching this weeks BL, but plan to this weekend. "Just because you are having a bad day doesn't mean you have to quit and go back to food." Um, that could have been written for me!

    Great post Helen!! I know you can reach for the star! :D

  19. Seriously?!?!!? This was, by far, the best post that I have ever read!!! Dang...I'm gonna have to write a post tomorrow about how much it encouraged me!!! Thanks for that!

  20. Thanks for the great post.

    I know what you mean, I think, about looking for that elusive thing that's REALLY going to make the difference this time.

    I struggle with pushing myself all the time, and wonder if I'm missing something. After thinking about it more, I don't think I'm missing anything except forgetting to keep my goal (the reason I am trying to live a healthier life) at the very front of mind, as vivid and real as possible. When I do that, everything clicks.

  21. Wow. You hit the nail on the head. 99 percent perspiration and all that! I had a hard time on the treadmill on Friday night. I decided I was going to run in 10 minute segments. Near the end of the hour, I had 10 minutes to go and I kept being so fatigued I couldn't maintain a slow run. I kept at it though and kept thinking to myself that if a morbidly obese person could burn 4000 calories in a day (on BL), then I can friggin' run an extra couple of minutes. I did a lot of pushing during that workout (halfway between quitting and completley overcoming my fatigue) and I know it's going to happen again.

    Profound thoughts to keep in mind. Thanks for sharing, I'm going to be thinking about this a lot when I work out...thanks for putting it in words.

  22. Oh wow, Helen, wow! I need to keep this post open in my browser for a while to think about all the inspiration you've shared. I lost my 'click' somewhere last year (I do think what works first, doesn't necessarily KEEPS working as that incentive to keep reaching) and I'm really in need of finding my 'click' again, REACHING again. Thank you so much!

  23. KEEP working ... sheesh ... see how my brain is spinning now with thoughts unformed and grammar all askew? =)