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500+ for 50 – day 8: risk going too far

Last night my girlfriend and I scrolled through the DVR and hit play on a recording of one of our favorite shows of the summer, Extreme Weight Loss.  If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to tune in sometime soon.  I’m moved to tears nearly every week.  It’s an incredibly motivating and inspiring program.  This week’s episode featured a pastor’s wife and stay at home mother of two.  Since the age of 22, she has given her heart and soul to her family.  But in an effort to be a flawless mother and spouse, she neglected to take care of her own needs.  And her well-being was placed in jeopardy as a result.  Over the years as pressure mounted in her quest for perfection, she turned to eating to escape her pain.  And her weight ballooned to 315 pounds.  At 44 years old, with an empty nest at home, she began her one year journey to begin her life anew.  And her transformation was remarkable.

Trainer Chris Powell and his wife Heidi lead the chosen few at Extreme Weight Loss on their yearlong quests to drop 50% or more of their original body weight.  The first 90 days of the program are spent at a training facility in Colorado.  Chris and Heidi teach the individuals how to manage their meals effectively and they lead them through a rigorous workout schedule that pushes each participant to his or her breaking point.  Then they build them back up, and keep moving forward.  And at the end of 90 days, many of the focuses throughout the season have lost nearly one whole pound per day.  In the case of the pastor’s wife this week, with relentless effort and grit, she dropped a total of 94 pounds in just 3 short months…amazing.

Are these results typical?  On this program, yes.  In “real life”, perhaps not.  The transformations documented are accurately depicted by the show’s title as “extreme”.  But that does not mean that exceptional results are out of the reach of anyone.  Your goal may be weight loss, or it may be something completely different.  Perhaps for you it’s the launching and successful operation of a new business venture?  Or maybe you want to write a book?  Or run a marathon?  It doesn’t really matter what your dream may be.  In order to attain noteworthy success, you will need to push for extreme results in all that you do on the quest towards achieving your goals.  I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from T.S. Eliot, “only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

When you commit to making an “extreme” transformation in your life, you will undoubtedly be met by a bit of resistance from some the people around you.  There will always be critics.  Many people enjoy watching others fail simply because it makes them feel more secure in their own skin.  You have to be willing to ignore them.  Engage the people who share your vision and who encourage your journey.  Don’t get caught up in the opinions of average thinkers when you’re after something extreme.  Your support network is critical.  The stay at home mother from last night’s episode excelled during her transformation because of her determined effort and commitment, but she was also helped tremendously by the efforts of her spouse who decided to embark on the weight loss journey with her, shedding 51 pounds of his own by year’s end.

There are no limits to this life.  I said it before and I will say it again, you are no different than anyone else who has chosen to commit to a revolutionary personal transformation.  Extreme results CAN be typical with extreme effort and determination.  You just have to have the “why” behind you that will drive you to see it through.  It’s okay to be a little extreme.  Nothing great was ever accomplished by those who settled for ordinary. 

Take it from our friend the pastor’s wife who lost 165 pounds in just 365 days.  Great results await those willing to risk going too far in order to achieve all that they desire.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 7: the two c’s to suCCess

I think that most people would agree that anytime we are in pursuit of a goal or a dream, there are two distinct hurdles that we must clear in order to achieve the success that we desire.  The first of these obstacles is the willingness to try.  And the second is the tenacity to stick to our chosen path until we reach our final destination.  Sounds pretty basic, right?  It is.  But the truth of the matter is that that these two mental obstacles handcuff most people for their entire lives.  Who knows what greatness might be achieved if we all took the initiative to get going and not resign until we reach our peaks.

In our country, it’s become far too easy for the average individual to sink back into his chair and view the world from the sidelines.  We are all engaged by the people that we admire.  Athletes, entrepreneurs, artists, scholars, servicemen…the list can go on and on.  We love playing the role of the fan.  And although we may feel that we live and die by the actions and words of our heroes, our risk is non-existent.  It’s the individuals doing the work, making the sacrifices, and chasing their dreams that are truly the risk takers.  They’ve made the investment in personal growth.  Too many of us are simply living our dreams vicariously through our idols.  After all, it’s far more comfortable to exist in a world where there is no threat of personal failure.  So “let someone else do it” we say…”I’m not good enough anyway”.

That little negative self-directed statement is enough to keep the average person living a life completely off course with their vision and purpose for the majority of their time on this earth.  That’s a sad truth.  Fears of risk, failure, and judgment…these anxieties are dream killers.  They do nothing but limit a person’s ability to live a fulfilling life that will serve to enrich the lives of those around them.  There is no validity to the negative self-talk that we speak.  We are the product of a perfect God.  Where we see flaws, the Good Lord sees our greatest strengths.  Those people that you admire on TV or in the news, they are no different than you.  They’ve just committed their lives to success.  And I can assure you that each and every one of them embodies two very special qualities: courage and consistency.

You cannot go anywhere without courage.  Courage is the ability to step forward in spite of the fears and threats of pain that will inevitably arise when we decide to chase our dreams.  It takes guts to get started.  I heard one of my favorite speakers declare once that “if your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t big enough.”  No one is immune to fear.  But we all have the ability to choose how it is that we will react to it when it presents itself.  When you decide to blaze a new trail in your life, you will face anxieties that you never even knew existed.  It’s our body’s natural reaction to send us into protective mode when we encounter something new because it is has perceived that a threat has been made that will set us off balance.  You’ve got to roll with it and push forward.  Your goals and dreams need to reach a level of importance to you that you will not retreat.  You have to be invested in the idea that you’re ready to lace them up and take the field.  Your days of being a fan are now over.

Once you’re moving in the right direction, there is no doubt that your adrenaline and momentum will provide you with a euphoric high for days or even weeks that you will not want to lose.  But life is not going to always provide you with sunny skies and a clear road ahead on the pathway to success.  You are going to encounter adversity.  Not once, but time and time again.  And this is where the second “C” comes into play.  Consistency.  It’s got to be the most difficult thing for dream chasers to master.  Every New Year you see people willing to get started on a new weight loss goal.  But how many treadmills are turned into clothes racks just a few months later?  That’s because the individual’s desire for success was not strong enough to motivate him to master the consistency needed to hit his targets.  There are going to be bad days.  Consistency is anticipating difficulty and sticking to the program anyway.  It means running when your legs ache, it means studying when you’d rather watch a movie, it means sacrificing financially when you’d love to treat yourself to some worldly comforts, it means getting up early when you’d rather sleep in…you get it…it means not changing your course of action for ANYTHING.  The people who are truly successful at achieving all that they desire do not miss a step.  They form habits that guarantee success by maintaining a consistent effort at all times.

We’ve all got a unique star gazing child inside of us that’s just begging for chance to play ball.  And our greatest contributions reside within that dreamer’s eyes.  So take him or her out back and toss it around a few times.  You might be offered the courage to build something spectacular.  And with consistent, determined action, your finished product will be sure to shine.

May God Bless!