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.

Good Enough, Not an Imposter

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.

Another Half Marathon

This weekend I completed my second Cap City half marathon in Columbus. This virtual half marathon was my fourth organized half and my tenth overall run of the distance since I started my personal transformation project.

My first half marathon run was this week in 2018. This means I have done ten half marathons in about two years. All this after having just started running less than a year earlier.

This weekend’s half was not easy but I was prepared. I properly fueled my body and trained for the run. I had a strategy for how to pace myself. I had a good route planned that I had run before. I was ready.

The first half of the fun felt great! I was way ahead of my expected pace, I had tons of energy and wasn’t tired at all.

The second half got a little rougher, especially starting at the ten-mile point. But I knew I could do it and I pushed through. This is where I would have normally relied heavily on the energy from the crowd to push me, but no such luck in a virtual half. I was out there by myself.

The last mile started with a significant uphill run and it felt horrible. But I knew how to push through this pain and strain and did a lot of walking to finally finish. Again, a crowd and better course planning at a normal half marathon would have made this better.

I ended with a pace time of 10:13 which was a personal record for me. I was shocked, happy and proud of this time. This was faster than my first 5k run and very respectable.

Imposter Syndrome

I am a runner. I am an athlete. I am not afraid to say those things. Even more importantly, I am not afraid to think and believe those things… now.

It is a big step to get to this point because imposter syndrome is a real thing. It is the psychological condition where you doubt your status or your accomplishments. You hesitate to allow yourself to identify with the things you have earned. You are afraid to been seen or exposed as a fraud.

Let me tell you, going from 325 pounds and a lifetime of obesity to sincerely viewing yourself as an athlete is full of imposter syndrome. But I am not an imposter, I am a rock star!

Good Enough

One of my tricks for overcoming my imposter syndrome was the magic of two little words: “good enough.”

Did I do good enough to meet my own expectations based on where I am today? I am not really trying to make anybody else happy. If I am comfortable with my performance, status and accomplishments then that is all that matters. But don’t forget the “based on where I am today” part of this. I cannot measure my success in a vacuum, I need to temper it with the reality of my situation.

When I ran my first half marathon my pace time (the average time per mile) was 12:35. When I was crossing the finish line I was being passed by people crossing the finish line after having run the FULL marathon, double my distance. But, none of those people were running their first half marathon and none of them were 325 pounds just 14 months earlier.

This weekend I was 20% faster than my first half marathon just 18 months before. Could I be faster than my 10:13 pace? Absolutely. Will I get faster? Absolutely. But this pace, at this stage in my running journey, in a half marathon without a crowd is more than good enough. It is downright impressive.

This “good enough” approach works in a variety of scenarios. This week I was leading a meeting at work. I walked away feeling like I did a bad job with it. I didn’t bring the expertise to the table that I thought I needed to bring and there were some participants who just didn’t get to where I thought they should get in the meeting.

Then I considered the reality of the situation. I just took over a very large program in the middle and have only been on the team for about a month. This was a highly technical meeting and it would have been impossible for me to have been an expert. I did plenty good enough and we got to where we needed to get.

I am not an imposter, I am a good project manager – particularly based on my version of what is considered good enough to be a “good” project manager. Just like I am not an imposter, I am an athlete and a runner.

I want to get better over time. But I don’t need to be any better than I am today to be good enough. I am good enough.

What are you “good enough” at that you can stop feeling like an imposter?

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.

Acknowledge Fellow Humans

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.

Way to go… keep it up!

Next weekend I am running my second Cap City half marathon in Columbus. This will be my fourth “real” half and tenth or eleventh total since I started my weight loss journey. Unfortunately, because of the COVID pandemic, this year’s Cap City was delayed from April to August and then switched to be a virtual run. This means I will be out there running 13.1 miles all by myself. Not the best way to run a race because of the total absence of energy and electricity from the crowd, but certainly understandable.

Just because I am running this half marathon alone doesn’t change the fact that I have had to train and prepare for it this summer. I have spent the past couple of months trying to run a quarter marathon distance, in the summer heat, every Saturday. Not the most comfortable running but important given my August half marathon. So I have been out there pushing myself and sweating like crazy.

Last weekend, at a particularly sweaty point in my run, I passed by a couple who I had seen a few other times during my run. They knew how long I had been running and, just then, the couple cheered me on.

“Keep going, you’re doing great!”

Their cheering gave me a little boost of much-appreciated energy that helped me keep going. I am hoping to get some of that love from strangers while I am running my half marathon next weekend too.

This moment reminded me that, while getting cheered by strangers is good, just the acknowledgment that a fellow human is out there is pretty valuable.

Acknowledgment is Important

In the country town where we have a lake house, it is customary that people wave to and greet each other in passing. When I am out there running or walking and a car drives by I usually get greeted with a wave.

I appreciate that acknowledgment from my fellow humans.

This same thing has always been important to me in an office setting too. When walking down the hall in the office I always appreciate when a coworker says “good morning” or gives me a smile or does anything other than look at the floor and avoid eye contact.

Acknowledging our fellow humans is a fantastic way to say “you matter to me as a human” even if you have nothing tangible to gain from that person. Humanity is more important than utility.

Acknowledge Fellow Humans

In this time of unprecedented isolation and loneliness, you never know how meaningful your acknowledgment of a fellow human can be. I will share a couple of the many techniques that have worked well for me.
 
First off, it is very easy to acknowledge the humans around you. But it starts with being present in the moment and being aware of your surroundings. Heads-down on your phone is a great way to miss an opportunity to acknowledge a human. It doesn’t matter if you are having a bad day, you just got a text message, you haven’t had your coffee or any other excuse. The choice is yours and in your control. Be present in the moment.

The first technique is very easy and costs you nothing, including your time. When you pass a person in the hallway, while walking, while running and at any other time, just acknowledge that you see that person. Smile at them. Wave hello. Say good morning or hello. This basic level of acknowledging a fellow human is easy and impactful.

Next, and this one is big for me, genuinely respect and value service industry workers. Your server, bartender, barista or anyone else who works every day to give you good service are all good people. They are fun. They work hard and the work they do is the backbone of our society. So treat them that way.

Don’t respond to your morning barista’s “good morning, how are you this morning” with “I’ll have a large latte!” Failing to at least say good morning discounts their existence and makes you sound like a jerk. Can you tell this is one of my pet peeves?

Talk to your server, as long as their time permits it, and treat them like the person they are. But be careful to be genuine about it. Every server can see through your semi-condescending “customer service” voice. They are a person doing a hard job. Treat them like you would want to be treated and make the job a little easier.

For the final technique, I am going to share a brief story. Girls on the Run (GOTR) is a nonprofit organization for 8- to 13-year-old girls that promotes girl empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running. This organization has a phenomenal mission and hosts a variety of runs in Columbus every year. The girls take to the street and muscle it out to finish their race that they have been training for and it is a fun experience for all.

This past year I happened to find myself out for a walk in Downtown Columbus as a GOTR race was being run. This race, like most races on public streets, included blocking the streets and a heavy presence by Columbus Police to ensure that the street closures are honored and that the participants, volunteers and spectators are safe. These special duty officers are only paid to be there and to keep things safe so most of the time they are pretty disengaged from the actual action of the event. This time was a little bit different.

I watched one female officer whose assignment was to stand in one intersection to control traffic and ensure safety, but she was doing more than that. She was vocally cheering every one of the girls that ran by her. She was super positive, super encouraging and brought a smile to many of the girls’ faces and to mine.

One of the top ways to acknowledge a fellow human is to cheer for a stranger and honestly want them to succeed. I can tell you from my own experience that it makes a big difference.

How have you acknowledged a fellow human today?

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.

Silencing the Haters

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.


Messages from the haters

When you set out on a journey of self improvement and transformation you are going to hear some things from the haters. The haters don’t want you to succeed. They don’t want you to be “better” than them. They don’t want you to make them look bad. They don’t want any risk to their comfort.

What are some of the messages you hear from the haters?

Your goal is stupid.

You are never going to be successful.

Who do you think you are?

Are you ready to quit yet?

What do you mean you’re a runner? How dare you think of yourself as an athlete? You are never going to finish a half marathon so why waste your time?

These messages are so harsh that most haters won’t say them to you directly. But one hater, the most insidious of all, will say these and even worse things directly to you. And not just once.

Just who is this hater and how can you stop them? Read on…

Hearing Voices

Each one of us has a little voice inside us.

This inner voice we have can be super helpful. As our conscience, it can help guide our decisions. As our intuition, it can tell us what our gut is telling us. It can even be that little inkling that something around us isn’t quite right and help us keep our guard up.

At its best, our inner voice can be a big motivator. It can be that voice that says “I can do this” when facing a challenge. It can also be that voice that pushes us to go further by saying things like “I bet I can get to the finish line faster than that other guy.”

But this voice isn’t always this helpful and positive.

Negative Self Talk

Our little voice inside us can be our biggest critic. Our biggest doubter. Our inner voice can be our biggest, meanest, rudest and most hurtful hater. It can complete shake our confidence and convince us to give up. Even worse, it can convince us not to even try to accomplish our goals or make our dreams come true. This little voice is the main reason that goals die of loneliness.

This happens when this inner voice transitions to negative self talk. This is when that voice makes us question ourselves and believe that we can’t accomplish our goals. Even worse, negative self talk makes us think we aren’t worthy of accomplishing our goals. This inner voice can be completely unfiltered and more hurtful than any other hater will ever be.

Have you experienced negative self talk?

Silencing Your Inner Critic

While your inner critic, your inner hater, is very powerful it is far from invincible. There are strategies you can employ to stop the inner critic from destroying your happiness.

Highlight Reel: last week I talked about your personal highlight reel and this is a time when that reel becomes super helpful. Reflect on your past victories, you have probably had many of them. Think about how hard fought these battles were yet you prevailed. By reflecting on these past highlights you can remind yourself of your strength and ability to succeed. If you did it then, you can do it now and you aren’t asking your inner critic for input.

Affirmations: while reminding yourself of how strong and capable you are you have another option. By seeking out inspirational and motivational quotes, sayings, photos and videos, you can put your brain in a can-do place which is the enemy of the inner critic. Seek out these things and keep focusing on moving the right directions. Here is one of my favorites that I often listen to while running to get that extra boost of confidence.

Cheerleaders: the final way to silence that inner critic is by enlisting help from others. There are plenty of people out there who want to see you succeed and want you to be happy. Surround yourself with these people. Their positive energy will help give you that extra push to help make your inner voice stopping holding you back. I have several cheerleaders, especially my wife, and I rely on them a lot to help me keep moving forward.

How have you learned to silence your biggest hater?

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.