success

Life Lessons I learned From a Dog Named “Bolt”

Let’s be honest, I don’t usually watch a lot animated Disney movies. Oh wait, I said “let’s be honest”--Ok, so maybe I do (and don’t try to tell me Toy Story isn’t one of the greatest movies of all time.) But a few weeks ago, I was riding my bike on the trainer in my apartment looking for something to watch.  For the most part, I have the TV on, but I don’t really watch it, as I’m rocking out to some Seether or 2000’s rap, like some old school Nelly. Since ESPN was showing women’s basketball, I was looking for something to watch while I rode. Disney channel was showing the movie Bolt, which I’d heard of, so I figured I’d watch. Plus, I had my jams on and was watching with subtitles, so I didn’t have to listen to John Travolta’s voice come out of a dog’s mouth anyway. The plot is about a small white dog named Bolt who, having spent his entire life on the set of a television series, thinks that he has super powers. Under the false pretense of the TV studio, he believes that his human, Penny, has been kidnapped, he sets out on a cross-country journey to "rescue" her.

Bolt

Halfway through the movie, this dog had me rapt (no, not rapped). Not only was the movie pretty good, there were some great life lessons that one can pull out of it, no matter who you are:

Believe in yourself, even when others don’t

Sometimes, if you tell people you can shoot lasers from your eyes or have a super-sonic bark, they won’t believe you--blasphemous, I know. But if I told you 6 months ago that I would be stronger now than I ever been in my life, you probably wouldn’t believe me either. Early in his adventure Bolt comes across a cat whom, convinced by a pack of conniving pigeons, he deems to be in plotting with an evildoer who stole his human.

The cat mocks Bolt and tell him that none of his powers are real. But the difference between us and Bolt? Bolt never doubt’s himself for a minute. He knows he has special powers (he doesn’t actually), and if he doesn’t believe in himself, who will? The first guy to break 4 minutes in the mile probably didn’t have anyone who believed he could do it, yet he did. Most people don’t think anyone will ever break 2 hours in a marathon, but there’s some crazy kid running around out there who thinks he can... And I guarantee they will.

Even if you want to do something unfathomable, never begin to doubt yourself--if you do, then you’ll never even try.

Always protect and be there for the ones you love

When Bolt’s person gets taken away from him, he has one mission--save her. He never once thinks about where he will sleep, when he will eat, if it will be dangerous, or if he could get hurt. All Bolt knows is that someone he loves needs his help and he’ll risk life and limb to save her.

As I’m writing, I can’t think of any stipulations for this rule. No “but” or “except when”, nothing. If you love someone, be there.

Turn your enemies into friends

Tricked by a flock of conniving pigeons, Bolt is sure that the cat he encounters knows where Penny has been taken and how is responsible (another lesson--stay away from haters).  His initial response is to hurl the cat headlong into rush hour traffic on the highway from the edge of a bridge. But he doesn’t.  Bolt recognizes that the cat may prove useful in his journey and he takes the cat along with him on his mission.

Bolt and the "evil" Cat

You won’t get along with everyone.  You should try, but it just won’t always be the case (caveat--PLEASE don’t hate on people for trivial things like how they look or how they workout.  We’re not a bunch high school girls here). But I am not talking about the guy who parks across 2 parking spots, I mean your true competition.

Instead of resenting someone who vies for success in the same industry as you, try looking at them with curiosity--what do they do that has helped them be successful? Did someone get a promotion over you? What skills are on his or her resume and what work experience do they have that you don’t? Now, what are you going to do to ensure that the next time someone is being looked at for a promotion that you get it?

Lastly, as Bolt learns, sometimes our enemies are those who are most similar to us, and that’s what breeds the competition and dislike.  Set these aside for a minute and try to get to know. The things you couldn’t stand about a person might be what make for a great relationship.

Create your own luck

There’s a point where Bolt realizes that he doesn’t actually have any powers. On his journey, the cat is captured and Bolt has to make a covert rescue operation to bust her out. In doing so, he takes out an animal-catcher, thwarts a group of hungry canines, then proceeds to blow a gas station to smithereens.

But wasn’t he useless without his powers? The saying goes, “the harder you practice, the luckier you get.” Luck is relative. Sometimes the cards just fall right for you, but you have to be willing to play those cards in the right order.  Now this is just my opinion, but I believe our lives are filled with luck and opportunity. For me, I believe that comes from God, but wherever it comes from, the key is acting in that moment.  If a beautiful girl (or guy) walks into a coffee shop and you don’t introduce yourself, are you unlucky that you’re not dating anyone? If you don’t lift weights heavy and push yourself to get better, are you unlucky that you can’t build muscle?

Hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle, hustle hard (closed mouths don’t get fed on this boulevard)

Bolt didn’t sit around and wait for someone else to bring him to Penny. As soon as he saw the problem, it was game on, do work, solve the problem. What we can learn is that  you can’t wait on anyone else to make things happen for you and, like I said above, you’ve got to put in the work to expect good things to happen.

Additionally, find ways to be awesome and to not be like everyone else.

Hustle

Learn new skills

So learning how to eat and drink out of a bowl on the floor is not the most glamorous of skills to learn, but Bolt allowed the cat to teach him how to do so. The point? Another tool in his toolbox.  Right now, I am trying to learn to code websites.  Does my job require this? No, but someday it might, or someday I may want to build a site and I’ll have the skill to do so.  Not only that, but there are all the skills that come along with learning something new--like how to study and how to partition your time in order to have the hours you need to learn.

Learn everything you can.  C.S Lewis said “Good people know about both good and evil: bad people do not know about either.” (Mere Christianity, 88). If you don’t know about the other side, how can you actively choose to behave in a certain way?

Never stop learning, asking questions, and challenging what is already given. If you don’t ask questions, then you can’t grow.  I’ve always found this in my Faith. By asking questions, I am able to arrive at the deeper understandings behind the “whys” of what I believe.

Face your weaknesses

Be brave.  Bolt never backed down. As a superhero, the evildoers didn’t scare him, but even as he realized his mortality, he stayed true to his mission... and he succeeded.

Why don’t we like to confront our weaknesses? I can think of 2 reasons--the first is that we don’t like to revel in what we’re not good at. A good friend spent some time trying to teach me to juggle... And I’m awful at it.  Throw a football, drain 3-pointers, do fancy footwork on agility ladders, I’m golden... But juggle 3 little batons and I’m useless.  My sticking point is I don’t like failing. And I don’t like failing over and over. But if I really want to learn to juggle, and I’m going to have to fail, fail, and fail again... And maybe one day I will nail it!

The second reason, which stems from the first, is that it makes us uncomfortable. Everybody else in the gym squats more than you and runs faster? Its more comfortable to not go.  But if you ever want to run fast... You’ve got to run fast. If you ever want to squat 300 pounds, you’ve got to start moving some pretty uncomfortable weights in order to get there. The joy comes from being successful and eventually learning how to turn these weaknesses into strengths.

I hope you can relate to some of these lessons.  Tell me, what lessons have you found from surprising places?

Update from the Mile High City!

So I finally have a quick minute to provide an update! I wrote this over a week ago, but all of it remains true.  I'm learning a lot here about myself, my struggles, and my future.  What I have some to realize is that life is not just about being "happy".  In fact, it is this endless striving for happiness that keeps us unhappy.  Living a full and fulfilling life means to feel all emotions--happiness and sadness, fear and anger, hope and joy.  We must experience all of these and not try to blunt them.  I am also learning that the eating disordered thoughts I am having may always be there, but I'm ok with that.  I've just got to learn how to control them, manage them, and tolerate them while acknowledging that, yes, they are there, but I don't have to act upon them.

I wrote this email to all my team, family, and friends to let you know all that has been going on.   I wanted to give you just an update of what's been going on here.
To start, last week, my treatment coordination team (Psychiatrist, therapist, dietitian, family therapist, and nurse) asked how my impulses had been around exercise. I at first wanted to lie, but then realized that that is not the man I want to be anymore and I told them I had been doing push ups in my room. It was not a ton, and probably not burning and calories, but from talking through it what I realized was that the purpose it was serving was not that I woke up every day thinking "yay, I feel like I would really enjoy some push ups!", but really it was just my eating disorder telling me, "we don't really want to feel the awful things we feel when you don't exercise, all the real problems in your life, so lets just do enough to take that edge off ti all to make this day bearable."
So this weekend I swore to myself and God that I would not engage in any of those behaviors. I had to keep in mind that 1) I swore to God, so breaking that trust was unthinkable, 2) if I did the actions I would have to deal with one of two feelings: first, I would either lie to my team and feel awful about that, or alternately, tell them truth and feel awful about letting them all down. So I didn't do any of my behaviors. But it did not help waking up on Saturday morning feeling that overnight my stomach had ballooned into this fat, gross, flabby, unattractive blob. that looked like I had been stung by a bee and was swollen. This had me really upset emotionally and physically, but I still did do any push ups or exercise which only increased the anxiety.... but I got through it! And I sat with those emotions of feeling how much it sucked, how much I hated it, and how much these feelings allowed me to actually feel what the eating disorder was making me hide.
Now, there is so much more under this all that I can get into later, but while talking to my dad on Saturday night, one of the reasons just sort of came out. One of my values is connection--with friends, family, God, and just socially (we've seen how good that ha gone, right? lol). What came out in the conversation I was having with him was that I realized I want to feel included. Let me elaborate. Every time my friends (or family) do anything without me, or if I'm not invited somewhere, my immediate reaction is that "they don't like me" or "I'm not cool enough that they would want to hang out with me." (Yes, I am aware that lately, that has actually been true; that I am not someone who people would probably want to hang out with). But, in order to handle, or to not feel these feelings at all, I engage in my eating disorder behaviors. Therefore, I am back in control. In 2 ways, first being that I blunt the feelings altogether. But second, and more importantly, I realized that I am just using these behaviors to give me control and reasons for not being invited. If I "have to do my workout" or "have to prepare all my food, etc etc", then I am back in control, and the reason I am missing out on whatever my friends or family are doing is back on me. "I couldn't have gone anyway because my workout had to be done." Then my eating disorder lies to me and says "I don't mind being alone, this is the way I like to be."
When clearly this is NOT the case because I so badly want to be included and want to be part of that connection.
The other thing I am petrified is, of course, gaining the weight. To me, if I'm not where I was when I came in, I'm obese. I am trying to work through these emotions and look it as a pendulum-- On one end these is the state I came in at: No health, no friends, screwed up hormones, no testosterone, but feeling like I am healthy, fit, fast, and lean. On the other end is obese, no exercise eating twinkies and drinking Slurpies all day. I figure if I'm not where I was when I got here, that I just automatically swing right to the other side. I am trying to remember that "healthy" is a good word. It's got "heal" in the word, and that, lets be honest, 95% of Americans are NOT healthy, so being healthy needs to be OK with me... it's still in that 5%.
Also, I fear that I won't be a fast, or I won't be as "good"a triathlete, or people won't like me, or I'll be fat if I'm not where I am now, but how do I know that? How can I make those assumptions if I've never actually let myself get there? What if I am faster and fitter and can enjoy exercise again? What if my relationships are 100 times better and I can actually think clearer again? What if I can find a way to balance exercise, health, and friendships at a happy equilibrium and to actually enjoy life once again?? I'll never know unless I give myself that acceptance, which at this point, is the hardest, most difficult, most manly, most courageous, most scary, thing I could do. What if i turn out to be a triathlon beast which I never knew? Or a for damn sure good and reliable friend?
But I need to remember--a pendulum has to hit every single point while it makes its way from one end to another. Therefore, I just need to let this pendulum start swinging and know there is a point I will find, where my body feels healthy and strong and will tell me where it wants to be, and I also can balance good friends and the enjoyment of exercise.

Well that was a novel, but I just wanted to keep you updatde (and to reiterate this all to myself)!  Thank you to everyone who reached out and to everyone who reads. Here are some pictures from the couple times I've been able to get out.

I apologize if I can't respond to any comments as I can't always access the blog from inside the center, but I will try!

I gave up. I quit.

I realized I had stopped trying.  And I was letting it happen again- I have been letting my eating disorder define me. After a long 3 days of training Friday, Saturday, Sunday and finally getting some serious bike mileage in, it all caught up to me- the stress, the lack of recovery, and the volume of training.

I can’t remember the exact moment, but at some point last week, either when I was working out or doing something at work, a thought came into my head and something and the response I had to myself was “it’s ok, I have an eating disorder.”

Now at the time , I didn’t think twice about it, but at home later that night, I realized- I had quit.  I was giving in again; I was letting myself be defined by my eating disorder… and more importantly I did NOT want to let it go.  I was enjoying, or at least defaulting, to the fact that it was ok for me to do certain things or act in certain manners because having an eating disorder made it ok.  I wanted that recognition, I wanted to be known that way.  It’s like I was proud of it.

Oh, I’m going to work out really hard today but then take tomorrow off because I’m sore and eat way less?  That’s ok, I have an eating disorder.

I’m going to put my socks on sitting on a certain side of my bed or else I’ll get fat or I won’t push myself to work out tomorrow? That’s ok, I have an eating disorder.

I’m going to not eat right after a hard workout so that I can “save” those calories for my real meal when I get home? That’s ok, I have an eating disorder.

NO!  It’s not ok.  It’s not normal for me to act like I have these inane “privileges” because I can use my eating disorder as a scapegoat.  This isn’t to say that I haven’t been challenging myself to new foods, etc. but it’s the fact that I wanted to be known by my eating disorder.

So as I was giving into all these rituals and obsessive compulsions that I believed were ok, I realized that I have to fight them.  I’ve written about this many times in the past, but I didn’t realize I was falling back in to it.  Being in a new city, new job, new lifestyle brings a lot of stress and I didn’t realize it.

When we are stressed, we revert back to ways that are comfortable for us.  People find different to handle (or not to handle) this stress and it’s not always good.  I guess this is how I cope.

So what am I doing about it?  For starters, I’m ignoring as many compulsions as I can.  I no longer have to chop my vegetables a certain amount of time.  I don’t have to believe I WON’T believe that wearing a certain shirt will make fat or not exercise. I REFUSE to believe my compulsions will have any effect on the greater part of my life.

Time to get back in the game.

How do you deal when you realize you are giving up?  Any help you can offer me?

All or Nothing

My legs are finally coming back to me.  Oddly enough, I was never super sore after Wildflower? Which actually surprises me since (a) It was a half Ironman! (b) It was the roughest course I’ve ever raced on, and (c) My post race nutrition was not as ideal as it could have been (in terms of timing.) However, what I’ve noticed as working before, was to go stand in the 63 degree lake water for 10-15 minutes and let the water cool my legs with the same effect as an ice bath.  Saying this though, my legs didn’t really have any power this past week.  This led to some shorter runs, a lot of elliptical, a lot of spinning, and actually, no swimming- even though swimming would have been the best thing I could have done.

I talked myself into taking more days off than I wanted to this week though. After being forced to take 2 days off after the race, I did 2 hard days with a mix of shorter running and a lot of cross training.  But then, for some reason I took another 2 days in a row off. Maybe I needed it after the race...maybe I’m a whuss.  However, I committed to myself that this would be a baller weekend and made sure it was.

Saturday was a: 9.2 mile run in 1:02:00, 30 minute bike, 30 minute spin, burpees and core work.

Then Sunday, I planned to go run for the first time in the morning... but when I woke up, it was too late to do the full workout, BUT instead of going back to bed, I went to the gym and had a great 60 minute lift instead!  I came home from this and had some “overnight oats” that I’ve been trying to do for a while.  I still haven’t gotten this perfect, lol, but I’m working on it.

This was a mix of delicious fresh organic strawberries, oats, vanilla protein powder, and 1 cup of Strawberry Banana Honeymilk

I think I should have used a little less liquid (or more oats) and apparently I should be using yogurt too?

I grabbed a quick nap and then headed back to the gym for round 2.  I ALMOST bailed on this....The lift in the morning really took a lot out of me.... standing on the treadmill contemplating.... but I remember all the guys that beat me last week and all the success I want to have this year and just started running.  I said, “get to 2 minutes and see how you feel”, “get to 5 minutes and see how your feel”.  30 minutes later I had run 4.51 miles and then continued it out 5 miles. I then did some cross training and finished with a BRUTAL spin class... On Sunday’s there is an awesome teach who actually knows what she is doing and every workout is very specific with an actual objective.  Then I jumped on the treadmill and ran another 1.8 to work on my bike/run transitions. Finished with some core and I was finallllly headed home.

Home to where my crispy tacos were awaiting me to cook them!

Monday, as sore as my legs were, the weather was gorrrrrgeous.  I actually went out alone on a ride for the first time--haha straight out and back do I wouldn't get lot.  On the ride I saw a circus (?) a woodchuck, and a place to get "the world's best fried chicken".  Got a solid ride in, then bricked a 4.5 mile run with some elliptical.  I took tonight off to let myself “get stronger” (recover) and be ready to get back at it tomorrow!

I also grilled these up earlier this week!

Mother’s Day made me remember something my mom called me out on a while ago.  She told me I am completely all or nothing.  Either I go to the gym and absolutely crush it, or if I’m tired I just skip it completely.  This isn’t a healthy way to live- your life needs balance between hard and easy days and tasks.

If I don’t go all out, I carry the weight of this with me until the next workout and really begins to tax me.  Read this amazing post by Lindsay and how to let go of these mental injuries.  Should everything be so all or nothing?  If I don’t push myself to my limits everyday, have I failed?  No, two-fold: from an exercise standpoint, your body can’t take that every day and if you ask it to do what it doesn’t want to or can’t handle, then you are doing more damage than good.  Pushing your limits is definitely the way to make progress, but one can’t do this everyday.

From the other perspective, what kind of a way to live life is it where everything is either black or white?  Most things aren’t that simple, there is no one answer, and there is no perfect solution.  You’ve go to craft each day as it comes to you and each decision is another chance at success.  I didn’t say “success or failure”, but simply success.  Just because everything was not absolutely perfect does not mean I am any lesser because of it or that the resulting outcome wasn’t still really good if we still deem that it wasn’t perfect.

But who the hell is to tell you or me what perfect is anyway.  Not to sound mushy or anything, but we are all already perfect and everyday are presented with situations to make right choices. Make the right choices--you’ll always be successful.

I’m off to Tampa on Thursday to find a place to live, so if you’re in the area or know anyone down there, hit me up!  There’s also a triathlon down there Saturday morning and I’m reallllly tempted to rent a bike and race it...

  1. How have you been successful this week?
  2. What weekend plans do you have?
  3. Know anything about Tampa?
And I thought this was hysterical:
P.S.  I've got an awesome crispy peanut butter chicken recipe coming tomorrow!  Assuming it works, that is....