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I feel like I go through phases where I hit a little rut, come out, then hit a rut again.  And that process drives me crazy.

Do you ever feel that way?

I’d rather hit the high and never come off of it.  Oh, if only.

For so long I would beat myself up about the rut part of the process, but I’m realizing more and more it comes down to this simple truth…

We aren’t perfect.  Life (including our fitness) is a journey and it’s about the process not just the arrival.

I am someone who just wants to “arrive.”  I don’t always enjoy the process (ok, I rarely enjoy the process – but seriously, who does…especially when it comes to fitness!).  But life happens to all of us.  Winter comes and you tend to stay indoors more and walk less.  A bad day (week) hits and you get thrown off your routine.

I was reminded this week as I busted through another rut, alongside my 12-year-old daughter who was in a rut of her own, that it’s truly not the arrival that’s so glorious….it’s the ability to continue to bust through the ruts that make us powerful people. 

We will have “ruts” in every area of our lives for the rest of our lives.  If we try to avoid them, live in denial of them, or beat ourselves up because we are in another one it leaves us weak and powerless.  We become “victims” of our circumstances and never choose to move forward because we have shifted blame for where we are to an event or person.

When we accept that “ruts” are a gloriously refining part of our process, we take responsibility for how we respond to it.

This, my friend, is true power within.  And for the powerful person, it doesn’t matter how many ruts you hit along the way because you’ve learned how to take responsibility for your chooses and walk out of them each and every time…even the ones that seem to take longer to get out of.

Micaiah’s Process to Powerful

The summer before my daughter’s fifth-grade year began a quest for Nathan and I to find something active Micaiah (said, “Muh-ki-uh”) could do that fit her personality and desires.  She’d “been there, done that” with soccer and basketball and wasn’t so sure they were a fit.  Not wanting to force her into anything she wasn’t ready for, we were open to try new things.

We found a great youth track program with coaches who love the kids as much as the sport and put her in for the summer.  She lacked confidence in herself so out of all the running and field events she chose ‘Race Walking.’  For this former Division I athlete, I had to swallow some pride and say, “Go for it sweetie.  Just whatever you do, work at it with all of your heart.  Do your very best.”  And she did.  She went all the way to the AAU Junior Olympics with race walking that summer.  And that’s all it took.

As she rolled into the AAU Junior Olympics in Michigan with her dad by her side, she was wide-eyed and taking in the sights, smells, and atmosphere of greatness around her that she was a part of.

It was like a light switch got turned on inside of her after that event.  I noticed as her 5th-grade year began, that she started going outside and running around the neighborhood.  Then the weather changed to fall, then to winter, and much to my surprise, my daughter who would rather snuggle up in sweatpants and a hoodie with a good book was donning her running clothes and heading out to run our half-mile loop several times.

As summer approached, we began discussing if she was going to do the Wings of Skill track club again.  I asked her if she’d like to continue race walking as her main event.  I told her I supported her 100%.   But I did challenge her to ask herself why she had chosen race walking.  Did she believe she couldn’t run?  Was she afraid she was slower than the other kids?  I told her she had my full support whatever she chose, but to never choose something out of fear.

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind.”

That conversation proved to be a turning point for my daughter.  She decided that day to try out for the 800m run and 1500m run – neither of which is easy.  These are considered to be the long distances in track.  Imagine flat out hauling as fast as you can go for half a mile (800m) or 100m short of a mile (1500m).  That’s what she chose to do.

I’m not sure her coach fully believed me when I told him initially that she had been training to run these events and that she was serious.  But after a few practices, it quickly became clear to all that something had shifted in Micaiah.  It was her belief level.  She now knew she could do it.   She knew there was a process she still had to go through to learn the ropes and improve, but she was willing to put the effort forth because she believed she could go somewhere with it.

We began working on breathing techniques and burst training together on her off days.  She gained even more confidence as she learned to control her breathing while pushing herself so hard.

In just 2 months of practice and meets she qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics in both events as an up-coming 6th grader.  I could hardly believe the transformation that took place in her in such a short time.  She came in just over 5:50 for her 1500m and was unable to run the 800m due to schedule conflicts.  But that race was a taste for her of what was possible if she continued to work hard to get faster.

She started at a new public middle school for 6th grade and shocked everyone on the cross-country team.    Out of our entire county of 100s of middle school girls, Micaiah came in 8th overall.  She was the fastest 6th grader in our entire county running a 9:29 mile and a half.  What was so thrilling to her was she had gone from walking the year prior to believing she could run and had only been at it for 4 months.

The Power of Process

Why am I telling you all of that?   Partially because I’m a proud momma who likes to brag on her kids.  But also because there is more to the story that I think might apply to you and me as we journey together in our fitness and health.

After such great success, Micaiah hit a rut.  That amazing race time was less than 5 months ago.  Then winter hit and I haven’t seen the same fire to throw on the running clothes and do the laps around the neighborhood this winter as I did last.  I got a little squirmy with her lack of desire, but I let it go.  I was able to let it go because I realized I’ve been in her shoes.  Micaiah was simply where all of us have been at one point in time.  We’ve achieved something great from hard work, and then slacked off.  Maybe because we thought the success would just somehow magically stay.  Or maybe because we got tired of doing what we needed to do to maintain.

Just like myself, Micaiah was in a process….one that she would have to discover on her own and one that will continue her whole life.

Just last week she finally came to me a bit frustrated with where her fitness and energy levels were, realizing that track season is just a month away.  Before offering some creative solutions and trying to “fix” her, I listened.  I asked her what it was that she wanted and helped her put words to it.  Once we established what she wanted, we set some realistic goals and then together, mapped out a plan…one that excited her, not overwhelmed her.

But I was honest with her.  Anytime you are in a rut, it would be dishonest to say it’s not going to be somewhat challenging to get out of it.  It would be a lie to yourself to not admit it might hurt, make you feel queasy, or make you want to rethink your goals and stay stuck in the nice, cozy rut.

I was able to relate with where my daughter was at because I feel like I’ve done the same thing, many times over.

Winter hit.

Life hit.

Bad day.
Tired day.

How many other excuses (even real ones!) can I come up with to not really push myself?

That plan to get where she, and I, wanted to be involved not just outward things.   It involved intangible things like commitment, following through on our plan, keeping our goals out in front, and….being gracious to ourselves when we don’t always stick to it.

I talk in my book, 5 ALIVE, about how guilt and shame get you nowhere but backward.  The only way forwards is declaring where you are heading and then partnering with the process, today.  Then again tomorrow.  Then again the next day.

I gotta tell you, that first workout was brutal…there may have even been a couple tears.  The next one (ok, two) were bad too but Micaiah looked at me and said, “Mom, I need to do this every day.  I like how this feels.”

Isn’t it funny how we can hate how something feels while we are in the process, but love how it feels afterward?   That’s because so much of fitness is truly not about your outward person but a training and discipline of the inner person – your mind, will, and emotions.

The outward results you desire become reality as you become more powerful on the inside.

It’s not about walking out your fitness in a perfect way and evading ruts for the rest of your life.   It’s not about arriving and then hanging on for dear life, hoping you never creep backward.   Let’s start being honest with ourselves.  We will have seasons where we don’t do the same thing we did to get us to a place of “success”.  So yes, we may go a little backward at times.

But going backward is even part of the process.   Those who go backward and still choose to go forwards again are the ones who have learned the secret of being powerful…and this my friend, will lead to a lifetime of success in all areas, not just your fitness.

My daughter chose to be powerful this week.

You can too.

It starts with taking responsibility for your choice today and then taking one step forward.  You are not a victim.  You are a powerful person with a choice.   Each choice you make will get you closer to rising above your rut.

Cheering you on and choosing with you!