Get Into the Game

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share progress updates from my continued fitness journey and the important lessons it is teaching me about life.

Momgul

I had an exciting moment this week when I learned that a friend and former coworker of mine, who I respect a lot, was taking the next step in her journey. She partnered with a friend of hers to launch a new podcast called Momgul (mom + mogul).

Momgul is a 15-minute weekly Podcast & Courses designed to make moms into moguls. 

I was very proud of my friend for doing this and I was a little surprised because it was a bit out of character for her. It is not that I don’t think she was smart because she is damn smart. It isn’t that I don’t think she has good ideas, she absolutely does. It isn’t that I don’t think she has a voice because I knew first hand that she does.

I just always thought she was more comfortable outside of the spotlight. She struck me as the person would choose to be the producer instead of the leading actor though both roles were completely within reach. But not this time.

She took the plunge, showed vulnerability and put herself out there in a very personal way. Her podcast is great (I mean really good!) and I couldn’t be happier for her! I would also highly recommend checking out the Momgul podcast even if you are not a mom (learn more at https://www.momgul.com/)!

Cap City 2018

The story of my friend taking a plunge and putting herself out there reminded me of a story about the 2018 Cap City half marathon. I originally told that story in real-time in my week 45 blog (read it here) under the heading of Half Marathon “Remorse.” Now that I have a little more distance from that moment I will briefly retell the story.

In April 2018 I had just crossed the 100 pounds lost mark and decided to keep going. I had started running but was still only running short distances and had never participated in an organized run. I was a complete novice and was still pretty timid.

On Saturday morning I had several friends who were running in the Cap City half marathon. Mile two of this race happens less than half a mile from my house so I decided to walk to Schiller Park in German Village to cheer my friends in their race. 

I watched the start of the first group on television and then walked to the park mere seconds before the fastest runners made it to where I was. Then corral after corral of runners passed by and I saw all my friends and cheered them all on as they were running. When one of my friends who was walking the half passed by I walked with her for about a mile and then walked back home. 

On my way back home I continued to see people walking the half marathon getting progressively less and less fit. 

That’s when it hit me. I could do this. Why am I standing on the sidelines watching people way less fit than me participate in a half marathon? This is the last time this was going to happen. I owed it to myself to jump in and participate.

Two months later I finished my first 5k race (read about it here). Just six months later I completed my first half marathon (read about it here) with a very respectable time and have only gotten better since then.

Getting in the Arena

I am a big fan of author Brene Brown whose writing and research focus on vulnerability and self improvement. Her writing and talks just resonate with me like few others and I just can’t get enough.

One of her go-to stories that she shares is from the Man in the Arena speech by Theodore Roosevelt. 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Then Brene goes on to paraphrase the quote by saying “If you are not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” 

This is an important life lesson I learned while getting fit and is kind of the foundation for my Operation Melt vision.

Get in the Game

Do you have a goal that you have thought about pursuing but haven’t taken that first step yet? What’s holding you back? You can’t win the game from the sidelines. To win the game you have to take the plunge and get into the game.

Sometimes you have to take a step outside of your comfort zone without knowing whether or not you will be successful. You just might surprise yourself and accomplish something bigger than you thought possible.

Did I know how to break free from poverty, graduate college with honors despite not being able to afford it and build a solid career and an amazing life when I started? I didn’t have a clue. But I took the first step and built my life a step at a time following my own path.

Did I know for sure that I could finish a half marathon with a time that wasn’t an embarrassment? Of course not. But choosing to be a spectator instead of a participant wasn’t going to prove anything to myself.

Did I know that I could lose over 100 pounds in under a year? No! In fact, I thought the odds were pretty low but that I would make some progress. I certainly didn’t expect that I would lose over 130 pounds and complete a half marathon in 14 months.

Did I know that people would read a self-serving blog bragging about my weight loss (that’s not really how I view it, but I know it is how others do)? Nope. I thought I’d give it a shot for a few weeks and see if there was interest. There was!

Did I start this journey planning to write a book? Certainly not, but I did.

I can share dozens of stories like this. I didn’t know I would be successful. It would have been easier to be a spectator. But I tried and was more successful than I would ever expect.

Winners are chosen from the playing field and not the sidelines. Get past the comfort zone. Be ready to fail. But take the plunge and give it a try. 

If you don’t at least try you won’t ever know if you are going to win or if your goal will just die of loneliness. 

I want to hear from you!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post, your goals or anything else on your mind. Send me a note via my Contact Me form above, on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram.

Get my Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox weekly by adding your name to my email list by clicking the Email List link above.

Learn more about how I used project management as a tool for success in my weight loss journey? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Most Dangerous Times for Goals

Welcome to my weekly Operation Melt update where I share progress updates from my continued fitness journey and the important lessons it is teaching me about life.

Recovery Time

After last week’s strong performance in the Cap City half marathon, I spent this entire week focusing on recovery. Despite feeling almost 100% recovered just a few hours after the race, which is very new for me, there were definitely some signs that I wasn’t recovered. For example, my resting heart rate was elevated but was back to normal by a week after the race.

Most experts agree that recovery is a critical part of running, especially after a race as long as a half marathon. Running thirteen miles is very stressful and takes a toll on your body.  So I did the responsible thing and took care of my body this week.

There are tons of reputable online sources for best practices for post-race recovery techniques. The most important of these techniques is simply to rest and refrain from running for a few days or longer. But there are other recommendations associated with nutrition, hydration, stretching and more. 

There is one post-race recovery self-care recommendation that is a little more unexpected: focus on post-race mental health.

Post-Race Blues

I read many articles this week and listened to many podcasts about a condition commonly referred to as “post-race blues.” This is when runners tend to feel a little bit of depression after crossing the finish line in their big race. While this isn’t an officially diagnosed condition, it exists, and there are many contributing factors.

There are physiological factors that can lead to this feeling of depression. The extra doses of chemicals and hormones released during hard events disturb the natural balance of the systems at play in your body. Your body chemistry being temporarily out of whack can easily lead to depression-like feelings.

Post-race blues is also linked to a change in your relationship with your goals. After spending months preparing and working hard to achieve a goal this work becomes a part of who you are, a part of your brand. Then you cross the finish line, have the medal put around your neck, you share the stories with the people who care about you and then it is all over. Suddenly this part of who you are disappears and is just a memory.

The result can be that you feel a little lost. You aren’t really sure of who you are and what comes next. You aren’t focused on a goal anymore and you feel a little let down. Combine this with the common issue of the “arrival fallacy,” where you believe that everything will be better after accomplishing a thing, and you get the recipe for depression.

Often runners use running to help process through feelings, relieve stress and maintain the feeling of normalcy. Unfortunately, during the post-race recovery time, this coping mechanism isn’t available. So runners end up stewing in these emotions with no outlet.

This isn’t limited to races either. Olympians have reported feeling depressed after the games are over. Politicians have reported feeling depressed after the campaign is done. And the list goes on.

In Good Company

I am not afraid to say that I have had a touch of post-race blues with all of my big races. This most recent half marathon was no different. Well, almost no different. I didn’t have the finish line party to celebrate my success with my fellow athletes. I just hit the 13.1 miles, stopped my tracker, posted a selfie and was back to reality.

This isn’t the first time I have had post-race blues and certainly won’t be the last. One of my biggest examples was that March morning when I stepped on the scale and discovered that I had achieved my weight loss goal. My race was over but, this time, I just kept running.

Fortunately, I know to expect the post-race blues and have learned to manage it pretty easily now. But the blues are still there and have taught me an important lesson about goals.

Most Dangerous Times for Goals

Goals are powerful but they can also be fragile. In the lifecycle of a goal, there are two times that are very dangerous. Two moments that are make-or-break and can lead to ultimate success or failure.

The first most dangerous moment in a goal’s existence is at the beginning before you commit to pursuing it. This is when the goal is mostly just a dream. You have a choice to make at this stage, do you chase your goal and risk failures on your way to success? Or will you talk yourself out of even trying and let your goal die of loneliness?

Almost as dangerous to the long term success of your goal is when you cross a finish line. This is a point when the post-race blues may tempt you to take your foot off the gas. You may think that you have gone far enough and just stop. You may be a little lost and not know which way to go and end up stuck in neutral. Or worse, you may feel so lost that you actually slip backward.

Keeping Focused 

How can you combat the post-race (or let’s say post-achievement) blues? The first step is to be ready for the blues to hit. Don’t be shocked or deny that you feel a little off after achieving a goal. It happens a lot and denying the feelings may prolong or amplify their impact.

Make sure to celebrate your success. Completing a half marathon or any other big goal is a major achievement and should be celebrated. It took a lot of preparation. It took a lot of commitment. It took a lot of hard work. It would have been far easier to sit on the couch and not even try but you didn’t. Pat yourself on the back.

Plan ahead for recovery time and make sure that you are giving your body and mind the self-care it needs. This may be a time to treat yourself as a reward for your accomplishment. Do some things that you like to do and take advantage of the time off.

Complete a post-mortem, hindsight or retrospective of the event. What went well that you can build on for future events? What didn’t go well that you can improve upon next time?

Figure out what’s next. When is the next half marathon or marathon you want to run? What is that next big accomplishment you want to chase? If you just achieved your weight loss goal, do you want to keep going or set a goal to maintain?

The best pro-tip for this is to try to make some of these decisions before you cross that finish line and go ahead and sign-up for the next event. This way you can minimize the decisions you need to make during this dangerous time.

Achieving a big goal is a time to celebrate so make sure to manage through the post achievement blues that you may experience and stay focused on being the kick-ass athlete that you are!

I want to hear from you!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s post, your goals or anything else on your mind. Send me a note via my Contact Me form above, on Facebook, on LinkedIn or via Instagram.

Get my Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox weekly by adding your name to my email list by clicking the Email List link above.

Learn more about how I used project management as a tool for success in my weight loss journey? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform that to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.