NOW WHAT?

Avoiding the stumbling blocks!

what now

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” – Robert Frost

The road to success is paved with hard work. There are no short cuts, and every journey is an individual one. Two of the most destructive stumbling blocks you will encounter are:

  1. self-doubt
  2. unsolicited advice

If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. – 1 John 3:20

Self doubt is often created by the internal worry that we somehow do not measure up to the task, whatever it may be. In his famous book The Power of Positive Thinking Norman Vincent Peale gives us the secret to happiness: “The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”  Self doubt tells us that we can’t succeed, we’ll never win, and that happiness in the form of success will be forever denied us because we are not good enough. The key to remember is that if we were born with a healthy ‘normal’ body, we have the same opportunities in life as any other individual with a similar origin. Sometimes we’ll have people along the road of life to encourage and help us , and sometimes the journey will be a hard and lonely one. The strongest people in life have managed to cast away self doubt and pave their own paths. There is great power in succeeding at a challenge we have set for ourselves. The reward is knowing that we accomplished what the naysayers  told us we could not do. God never gives us anything that we cannot overcome.

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The Narrow Gate

In everything, then, do to others as you would have them do to you. For this is the essence of the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it.… –Matthew 7:12-14

“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – Burt Lance

Always consider the source when receiving unsolicited advice. Someone telling you not to fix something that works will hold you back from finding a better way to do it. Likewise, if you are doing something that  is working for you, but which is not the way that someone else is doing it, remember that everyone is different. What works for you MIGHT not work for them, and vice versa. As long as you are not doing something illegal or immoral, if it works, keep doing it.  Just because ‘everyone else is doing it’ doesn’t mean you should do it too just to appease them. The only person you are competing with is yourself.   You just need to check yourself to see if you are improving. This is easily accomplished by keeping careful records of your progress. For example, I myself have been struggling with my weight for years, and it took a lot of trial and error before I chanced upon a diet and exercise program that worked for me.  I have carefully monitored and recorded my weight for years. It wasn’t until about three years ago that I discovered a few dietary supplements, meal plans and exercise programs that broke the chains that had been holding me back.  Nine months ago I began competitive running, and now I monitor my progress with that, so I see the results. More importantly,  OTHER people have taken notice of the external changes to my physique, and they have been inspired by it. Actions speak louder than words, and results are hard to argue with. The proof is in the pudding.  If it works, KEEP doing it, never quit, never surrender!

The most important thing you can do in life is to lead by example. You are being watched all the time by everyone in your life, whether or not you are aware of it. It is better to be held up in high esteem as an example of what is possible, as opposed to being a cautionary tale of what NOT to do in life. There are too many fools who took the short-cut down ‘Easy Street’ which lead to destruction. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, live your life the right way, and remember that life is YOUR life, and you are the one who need to live it. As always, I wish you success and happiness!

THE END IS THE BEGINNING!

Life is a journey!

the end is the beginning

“Be decisive. Right or wrong, make a decision. The road of life is paved with flat squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.” – Anonymous.

In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul made a metaphor between his life and career in the first century church equating it with a road race.  

” I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” – Paul the Apostle (from 2 Timothy 4:7)

This was one of the many ways the early leadership of the church created bridges between people to connect unfamiliar concepts to various individuals. As I began running road races last year in 2019,  I quickly came to realize how appropriate this comparison was. Before I even attempted my first 5K, my goal was to run a marathon. 5K is 3.1 miles, and a marathon is about nine times that at 26.2 miles. I was inspired by Nathan Maxwell  @socialshark , a friend on Twitter who was an ultra-marathoner. Nate and I connected through a love of coffee. When the internet was in its infancy, it was referred to as The Super Information Highway. Now we have social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. The thing about social media is that it allows individuals to share ideas, images and information of all sorts at a rapid-fire pace, with little or no filter. This double-edged sword has both brought some people closer, while at the same time destroying some relationships.   I am often amazed at the number of people around the world who check in regularly to read my weekly Sunday opinion piece. It is quite humbling.  

Running is a lifestyle choice. Like many things, you do it for as long as you can, on a regular basis. Once you quit, often there is no going back.

 “The end is in the beginning.” – T.S. Eliot

The First Key to success in life is proper planning executed at an early time. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I am currently using a lot of racing and health metaphors because of the interconnectivity of health and wealth. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, “Your health IS your wealth, and your wealth IS your health!” As I prepare for my first marathon at the end of 2020, today I run my first official race of the year, a 10K in Muhlenberg PA. Last year I ran a dozen races, from 5Ks to half-marathons. In 2020, my plan is to run twice that, both in distance and frequency. Each of these races has an entry fee. Had my finances not been in order, I could not afford to do this. As an athlete in training for competition, I have certain nutritional requirements. Dietary supplements , special meal plans, and better quality organic produce all cost money. Again, had I not taken steps years ago to fix my finances, I would not be in a position to afford these added costs. Not to mention I also need to buy quality running shoes and gym clothes.  

The Second Key to success in life is you have to want it. That should be obvious, but saying you WANT it and actually wanting it enough to do the work to attain the goal are two different things. When you really WANT something, the effort you are putting into attaining that goal should be outwardly apparent to anyone observing you. Actions speak louder than words, but RESULTS shout from the rooftops! 

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The Third Key is not giving up. The road is long and hard, and there are many stumbling blocks.  My most grueling 5K of 2019 was a night run obstacle course, The Zombie Fun Run. The ‘fun’ stopped when I wrenched my knee as I slipped on a muddy hill. I was terribly concerned with each painful step that I would not be able to finish, but I managed to limp my way to the end. In a couple of days, I was right as rain again.  The first half-marathon I ran two months prior also was fun, until I hit the 9th mile, and was breaking personal distance records. That was when I started getting leg cramps.  I also limped to the end that time.  DNF (Did Not Finish) is currently not in my vocabulary. I have completed every race I signed up for. ONLY once (during the Chobert Challenge 15K trail run) was I DFL (Last), but I did finish.  Often when I am in such trying periods, struggling to reach the finish line, another quote from the Apostle Paul comes to mind.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Paul the Apostle (from Philippians 4:13)

Just like Nate’s Twitter posts inspired me to begin running, other folks I have connected with have inspired me to continue. One fellow runner who is truly amazing is Bruce Cronrath. Bruce is 76 years old, has a replacement knee and still runs half-marathons.  Whenever  we race,  he’s usually a few minutes faster than I am. I currently run about a  12 minute mile, and outweigh Bruce by over 100lbs. Bruce is a Vietnam  Vet and a credit to our country. He is the perfect example of never giving up, and demonstrates what is possible when you devote a lifetime of dedication to a healthy lifestyle  . I hope that when I reach his age, I have his level of stamina and endurance as well.

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Hopefully I have encouraged you through my blog to rise to new heights in whatever pursuits you wish to engage in. You can accomplish it as long as you give it everything you’ve got and never quit!  As always, I wish you success and happiness!

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RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

(Your life may depend on it someday)

RUN FOR YOUR LIFE

“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.” — George S Patton

Two hikers stumble across a grizzly bear and her cubs. The enraged mama bear snarls and charges towards them. As the two men turn to flee in terror, the one says “We’ll never make it, we can’t outrun the bear!”  His buddy replies, “I don’t need to outrun the bear, I just need to outrun you.”

That’s an old joke, and you’ve probably stumbled across it before. Often it gets recycled or changed a bit.  Lately it’s been used pretty often in the popular Zombie Apocalypse Fiction genre.  One traumatic  example was in the second season of TV’s The Walking Dead when Shane shot Otis so he could outrun the zombies chasing them by sacrificing his buddy.  In the move Zombieland, Columbus had 33 survival rules, but his NUMBER ONE RULE was Cardio. “To escape a pursuing zombie you will need to out-run it, and this means being in good shape. ” There is even an running app for your smart phone called Zombies, RUN!

Many people take running for granted, often fooling themselves into believing that if they ever needed to run, or run FAST and far , they could if they had to. You’ll never know how far, or how fast you can run unless you make time for a regular fitness regime that includes cardio.  Now besides entertainment, end of the world Zombie fiction is good for getting people to THINK about what they what they would do if the unthinkable happened. When a natural disaster such as hurricane Katrina or Sandy suddenly devastated coastal regions would you have  fresh water, power, or food? What about tools, and other supplies. So let’s assume you were smart and did have a ‘bug-out-bag’ with supplies ready and waiting for an emergence. Could you strap it on your back and walk with that load  for miles if need be? Could you?

Two out of every three Americans are overweight, and half of those are obese. Being FAT is not healthy. It is bad for your heart, your veins, your bones, and your mental state. It is bad for every part of your body. I should know, I’ve been struggling with weight issues for years, and two years ago I embarked on a vigorous diet and exercise program to get my life back on track once and for all. Understand this above all else, it is impossible to lose weight by exercise alone. Exercise just helps to strengthen and tone the body. You’re food is your fuel, and your body needs the best possible nutrition to build strong bones and muscles. As a stress eater, I know that it is a struggle to give up comfort foods such as chocolate, cake, and pizza. Trust me, I know all about it. It is a daily struggle of mind over matter, but once you establish a daily routine and stick to it, you will see results. It will NOT happen overnight, all good things take time. The important thing is to start.

The Power of Positivity

When you feel good about yourself you feel better physically, and vice versa. I was in a bit of a funk a year ago because my weight had hit a plateau which is common.  So I needed to change what I was doing as far as both diet and exercise. After all what is the point of being rich and successful if you’re too sickly or overweight to enjoy the fruit of your labors? Doing NOTHING is not an option. When I was fatter, my knees hurt. Running was not an option in that state. As I began losing weight, the knee pain lessened and I started doing the elliptical more and more at the gym. And I began to see results so I started feeling better about myself. Obesity causes mental illness, such as depression.  Over the past two years I’ve managed to lose about 60 lbs so far, 30 last year, and 30 this year.  Last summer when I lost the first 30 lbs, I was on vacation and a cute waitress at my favorite cafe noticed, and told me I looked really good. That one compliment made my entire year and provided the impetus  to train even harder. So I decided to try running.

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One of my friends on Twitter is Nathan Maxwell @socialshark . I met him though CoffeeChat. He’s an Ultra endurance athlete, married with six kids. He started running 11 years ago and at the time he too was overweight, and couldn’t run one mile. Since then he has trained incredibly hard and to date has run more than 60 ultra marathons and four 100 milers. He has been (and still is) an incredible source of inspiration and motivation. I am fully convinced that I would not have reached the level of running I have currently achieved had it not been for his knowledge, wisdom, and encouragement.  Almost six months ago, I ran my  first 5K, that’s 3.1 miles. Since then I did a 15K Trail Run, uphill with 4 creek crossings in 90°F heat, and two weeks ago I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles). On October 13th I’m running another half-marathon, and four days later I have a 5K night run planned. I hope to run a full marathon in a year or so once I get my times down on the half-marathon.

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If there is one thing that I can say about the running community, it is filled with people who encourage and support other runners. I have been told that I was AMAZING more than once, and have gotten many thumbs-up, fist bumps, and high-five palm slaps. Likewise I have passed on encouragement to fellow runners, including one man  who decided to run his first 5K at age 70. And yes, Richard finished, and he wasn’t last! Even if he was, the point is running the race, and not giving up. I was dead last when I ran the Chobert Challenge 15K trail run. I burned over 2000kcals and was exhausted and staving when I crossed the finish line, but I did it, and there was even pizza waiting! Next time, I won’t be last. My first half marathon was grueling, but I finished! The best thing about half-marathons and up is that you get a finishers medal when you cross the finish line. This is not to be confused  with the insulting participation medal. It is a FINISHERS MEDAL and you earn it when you FINISH.  Crossing that finish line is an accomplishment that needs to be recognized.  Each year there are over 750 marathons and half-marathons held across America. Less than 1% of the US population runs in these races.  As for 5K races and such, there are also medals awarded by divisions and gender, so you can still win first, second, or third in your bracket even if you were not in the top three over all, and your times are recorded so you can track your progress as you go for the gold! Good luck, and as always I wish you success and happiness!  

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