If youre like me, the quest to be in shape and manage weight feels overwhelming. And, as if the quest to be fit isnt hard enough, theres often other obstacles to overcome: health issues, time management, mustering up courage or energy. Even if youve been exercising for a long time, theres always new barriers to be broken. So, how to put all of this into perspective?
According to Tom Turner, executive liaison for the Spina Bifida Association thats exactly it: Perspective. And also, according to him, theres no mountain too high to climb. Tom would know. Paralyzed from the waist down since birth hes now 35 and trains about three times a week. In fact, he tells me, he just couldnt get along without exercise.
So in my quest for the last word on overcoming barriers in fitness, Tom sat down with me and together we came up with 3 basic principles that will help break-down fears and intimidations when striving to reach fitness goals. (After all, if he can exercise on a regular basis, shouldnt that be encouragement enough for anyone to give it a shot?)
Principle #1 Move Into The Fear.
Train you mind to believe no mountain is too high or any goal is too difficult to attain, Tom tells me. Basically, its all about meeting your fears and facing them head-on. In this principle, aim to recognize your fears, acknowledge them and then move through them. Ask yourself what is it that makes you uncomfortable? Have you let yourself get out of shape and are afraid youll never get back? Do you have an injury thats caused you to be afraid of your body? If you can visualize creatively, then you can put your fears in check. See your self as youd like to be. Remember: your body loves you and has the potential to heal itself to perfection. Your only job is to trust it and listen.
Q: What is your body saying to you?
Principle #2 Trust Your Intuition.
It is important when overcoming obstacles and learning to break through barriers that you begin to listen to the still small voice of your body. In most cases, we all want the comfort of having someone telling us what we can and cannot do. However, our highest truth lies within us. This is not to say that the good opinion of others is not important, but ultimately the decision making comes from within.
When facing a challenge or an obstacle look to how you feel. What are your instincts telling you? Often it is simply your instinct that will move you into a new mindset and raise your consciousness. I wasnt about to let the wheelchair stand in my way, Tom tells me. In fact, he says he had to merely change his perspective about it. He says he first had to learn about what his restrictions were then, create a boundary for himself. We all have boundaries, he tells me. “Regardless if a person can walk or not, obstacles are as unique as people themselves. Therefore, its first best to know your boundaries.”
Next, Tom tells me he aims to meet those boundaries. I first reach as high as I can within the confines of what I am able to do. Whether it be more sets, reps or greater endurance, I allow myself as much time as necessary to accomplish my small goals. It always surprises me, with small steps, how quickly I can reach a Big goal.
Principle #3 Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.
What then, about fear? I wanted to know. If we move into the fear and meet it eye to eye what if fear meets us there? So, I asked Tom: are you ever afraid? After 19 operations in my life, Ive really come to terms with fear, he says. It really comes down to our most primal fear; fear of death. Once you realize that death is all part of the divine plan, its liberating, you can let it go and, instead, choose how to live. So instead of being afraid of death I decided to choose how to live.”
So whats the take away message? Talking to Tom, Im reminded of the poem by Dylan Thomas who said: Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night. It seems appropriate here. The bottom line: Staying afraid often keeps us from truly living. Tom reminds me that a positive attitude is key, “Life is all about attitude.” He also says he could let fear beat him down, yet he doesnt. I