Overcoming Adversity a Pound at a Time
In mid-2015 I started experiencing a lot of pain in my left shoulder. By early 2016 it had gotten so bad, my arm was continually numb and even a bra strap on my shoulder was more pressure than even my extraordinarily high pain tolerance could handle. After x-rays revealed issues in my neck, I consulted with an orthopedist who found a herniated disk along with spinal stenosis.
When I began the prescribed physical therapy, I was barely able to lift 1-pound weights, which was a significant decrease from my previous ability to do chest presses and flys with 15-pound free weights. But between the physical therapy and changing my diet, I slowly regained enough strength to use 5- and eventually, 10-pound weights.
Creating Our Own Brand of Consistency
Over the last couple of years, I was intermittently continuing regular workouts and gaining strength in fits and starts. My progress was directly related to the consistency of my gym visits, or lack thereof. The baby steps were happening, but the irregularity of my commitment was easily apparent in the slow and sometimes nonexistent increase in strength I observed.
That all changed in the last few months. I finally realized the only way to honor my commitment to myself was to keep track of when I went to the gym, and to schedule regular days, not only for workouts, but for specific areas being worked as well. With consistency came greater progress, and I’m now doing flys and presses with 25-pound free weights, and bench pressing 55 pounds. It might not seem like much to those who have achieved consistency over the long term, but for me, it represents more than merely the most weight I’ve ever been able to manage, but the result of finding what worked for me.
I don’t push myself as hard as a lot of the people I see at the gym for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is lack of a spotter. But I’m also at an age where I have to be more careful of the exercises I do and the amount of weight I’m using. I may not look my age on the outside, but on the inside, things are not as flexible or resilient as they once were. I’d rather err on the side of caution and continue to retain my independence.
I have noticed that lifting the 5-gallon water bottles with one hand has become far simpler lately. And clothes I had to weigh less to wear are now fitting though I’m 5 or 6 pounds heavier.
Taking Smaller Steps to Larger Goals
What I’m really trying to demonstrate with my story is that baby steps will always get you where you want to go eventually. It’s not how big the steps you take might be, but the consistency of taking those steps. Face it, a thousand 2 foot steps will get you a whole lot farther than 10 20 foot steps. And in the process, those smaller steps will build up your strength, or teach you new skills, or even gain you some help on your journey. If you want to reach your goals more quickly, you’re often better off taking more small steps instead of a few bigger ones. Each of those small steps is a brick in the foundation you’re building to support the new and improved version of yourself.
When we take a lot of small steps, we’re spending time reinforcing the changes we’re making. We also leave more space to adjust our course if something is taking us away from what we want. Or, as more often happens, our goal changes because we learn new things which open up possibilities we could neither see nor consider when we began. It’s a lot easier to adjust course if we’ve gone a foot or two off track vs. several miles. If nothing else, less distance to backtrack means we start moving forward much sooner.
Lovin’ My Baby Steps
As you may have read in other posts, I’m a big fan of baby steps for a lot of reasons.
- Less course correction, as previously mentioned
- More time to learn skills you’ll need as you get closer to your goals
- Opportunities for collaboration you might miss if you’re moving too fast
- Creation of healthier habits from commitments you make to yourself
- A stronger foundation because you’re taking the time and care to expand on what’s working and jettison what’s not
Needless to say, I’m more the tortoise than the hare, plodding along at what might sometimes seem a snail’s pace. But don’t be fooled by my lack of visible progress. I’m likely working on something that isn’t visible to the naked eye, but is critical to the integrity of the structure I’m creating. You don’t see the re-bar in the slab beneath your house or office building, but its presence means you’re standing on much firmer ground.
Finding Our Own Ways and Means
Some people learn life skills like fixing things around the house, balancing a check book, and creating a budget. They know how to read a contract and how to ask questions to be sure they’re getting exactly what they want and need. They’re also less likely to be taken in by a salesperson with questionable ethics (though not immune, to be sure!), and more likely to call someone on “facts” that don’t add up.
Others really struggle with what some of us consider elementary concepts. They’re easy targets for people who care only for the money they make from people whose welfare they believe is not their concern.
The same is true of the steps we take to reach our goals and the commitments we make to the steps required to achieve them. For some, the steps are obvious and the commitments necessary are easy. Others are faced with dilemmas with each new phase. Those dilemmas might be physical, mental, or emotional restrictions. They might also be purely moral.
Nobody Knows You Like You Do
Whatever drives you to choose one path or another is unique to you, and has very valid reasons for being necessary. It doesn’t matter if your choices make no sense to anyone else. For you, they represent steps you have to take to get to the next level. By the same token, steps someone else takes might seem obvious or elementary to you because you’re coming to the table with a different set of skills.
To move forward, it’s necessary to step outside our comfort zone, but how fast we take those steps is unique to us, and necessary. If we step too quickly for our own abilities and discomfort, we’re more likely to dive back into our shell of comfort and security than move forward. We all need to find our own “sweet spot” of discomfort where we can tolerate risk for the promise of a reward.
Several wise people have pointed out we are all at different stages in our life plan. You can’t measure yourself against someone else because you’ll be ahead of them in some areas, behind them in others, and on the same level in still others. What’s more important is to realize you are exactly where you are supposed to be right here and right now.
Grateful Every Day
My gratitudes today are:
- I am grateful for my increasing physical strength.
- I am grateful for the lessons I’m learning which help me push further out of my comfort zone.
- I am grateful for slow, steady progress and the help I find along the way.
- I am grateful for momentum. The further I go, the more I achieve in less time.
- I am grateful for abundance; strength, health, flexibility, knowledge, help, connections, inspiration, motivation, detours, delays, aha moments, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author