Elaine Doll-Dunn, Psy.D.

"There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going." - Beverly Sills

And it comes down to this. You. You’re it. You can buy all the fancy fitness programs and join a posh health club and purchase state-of-the-art exercise equipment, and talk about “tomorrow”; but ultimately it is YOU who determines whether or not FT HPNZ. Talking about it doesn’t work, planning it doesn’t work, excuses don’t work, and putting it off doesn’t work. What really makes things happen is you. You get yourself out the door, you turn down the second dessert, you ignore the ‘super size syndrome’, and you make the determination of relative importance; your health and well-being, or sleeping in, slacking off, slowing down.

In my Jim Fixx Running Log the first motivational article of the New Year was on being a ‘quitter’. How many people start out the year with diet plan, an exercise regimen, and a list of resolutions that take longer to read than the instructions for the kids’ Christmas toys’ assembly? There’s the requisite ten pound weight loss; the strict eating program, and probably a deadline that would require fasting, daily ten mile runs, and twenty pound weights before breakfast. So by February it’s over. And the quest becomes a quit. Sabotaged by self, by great intentions, and the sense of immediacy that we seem to have inherited from the computer age; we want it now.
But there is good news. Being a ‘quitter’ also means you can be someone who quits being inactive, quits eating on beyond hunger, quits making excuses and quits delaying the process. Talk is cheap; to actualize a plan requires time, tenacity, and a vision of the athlete within. It would be nice if a week on the road kept us to the task, but it doesn’t work that way. We all have very real reasons for ‘baggin’ it, and when that happens, take a brief hiatus, be a quitter, then buck up and be the other kind of ‘quitter’. Quit being a slug and take charge. Only you can.

When I climbed Devil’s Tower, I was a rank novice, seduced to the challenge by a pair of kids half my age for whom climbing was as easy as running was for me. I had coached the girl to run a marathon, and she qualified for Boston. She was so excited and grateful she gushed, “I did your sport, now you do mine!”

“Well.” I thought, “What could be tougher than a marathon?” I found out. She informed me that they were climbers and that they were going to help me scale the tower. A promise is a promise, so we did it. It was thrilling, terrifying, incredible, impossible. I still have nightmares about it, and I’m still elated that I did it. Go figure. At one point near the summit is a move called the “lateral jump”. Just that. You have to jump across an abyss to another toe-hold on the other side. Jenny was on one side and Brad on the other, I on the rope between them. I jumped, missed, and swing acres above terra firma in shear terror. The only thing I could do was work my way back the rope to Jenny, summon up another batch of courage, and jump again. They were there for support, but the only way I could get to the other side was by myself. Quite a message.
Then in Africa, some 16,000 feet up the face of Mount Kilimanjaro, I ran out of oxygen, energy, and attitude. The marine sergeant ahead of me had just turned around and gone back (I so wanted to follow him….), my water bottle was frozen in my hand, and it seemed we had serpentined up the steep slippery slope for years. I collapsed against a boulder, put my head down and gasped, “I can’t!"

Moses, my personal Sherpa, gently placed his ebony hand on my trembling shoulder and so, so softly said, “Mama (My Lady), you can.” And there we stayed until I gathered my emotional and physical resources, picked myself up off the rock, and began the; breathe, step, breathe, step painfully slow progress to the top of the mountain. Again, I was it. Nobody was going to---or even could---do it for me.

So in any endeavor that matters, the one you have to count on is you. You have the investment, you have the courage, you have the need, and you have the obligation. You’re it. That simple.

So make a reasonable plan, implement it, pat yourself on the back, and remember you are a work in progress. Fit feels good, fit looks good, fit is good. If it happens you become a quitter for a while, just catch your breath, regroup mentally, be as patient with yourself as you would your dog, then become the other kind of “quitter”. Get your butt back on the road.

You’re it.

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