Last weekend my husband and I took scuba lessons. It’s not a thing I ever imagined I would do, because the thought of not being able to breathe terrifies me. An hour into the first day of training in a pool, one of the girls in the class bailed. Her reason? “I’m just not enjoying this.”
Now the good news is that the instructor has talked with her and she’s going to complete her lessons another day, but it really got me thinking. Of course she wasn’t enjoying herself. The learning was not the enjoyable part of scuba. It was uncomfortable, scary, and sometimes boring and redundant. The first time I jumped into the water, I hit my head (hard) on the tank strapped to my back. That hurt too- so much I nearly started crying and really wanted to yell at someone. If this is what scuba is about, no one would do it. If every time anyone rode a bicycle they crashed, no one would do that, either.
The thing is, we do things that suck because on the other side of the work is something very, very worthwhile. Riding a bike, it turns out, is fun! Scuba enables us to go to places previously impossible and experience unimaginable beauty. Learning how to knit requires a lot of patience and practice, but the look on a friend’s face when you say, “I made this for you” is priceless.
Making changes in your eating (for whatever reason) sucks, too. Honestly, it does. It’s inconvenient, it’s frustrating, and it’s hard. It can also be fraught with fear, insecurity, and doubt. Trying to lose weight can be discouraging. Learning to deal with diabetes or heart disease can feel overwhelming. And going against the rules of an eating disorder? Well that’s downright terrifying.
So why? Why do something that sucks? Why put yourself through the discomfort of the learning curve and the voice that says "STOP!"? Because there is something important for you on the other side. Think about the thing you’re trying to do and what that might mean for you. How will you feel when you get where you’re going? Or even just get on the path?
Was your first thought appearance related? Keep going, then. This is not about being skinny, or looking great in a two-piece, or even not being sick. It’s more than that. No one learns to knit because they look hot knitting. They learn to knit because the activity is enjoyable and there is a sense of accomplishment. Riding a bike so people can see how fantastic you look in spandex is not sustainable, either. You ride because you love to do it, and because the breeze on your face and your muscles moving under you skin feel good. You got through the scary and difficult stuff because the reward is so worth it.
If you've got a goal, no matter what it is, I want you to ask yourself: What would truly make it worth all the work and the fear? What is the reward that will make the sucky parts endurable? Usually appearance or a number on the scale isn't enough. You need to feel it for it to matter. So what is your real reward for doing the hard work? Is it to feel strong, to conquer your fears, to have more energy, to be healthy, to be more comfortable in your skin? To know that you care enough about yourself to invest in your health on a daily basis? How about all of those things? Only you know your answer. Make it count!
*Bonus message: It's okay to let someone help you when you're learning something new. I'd even argue that it's arrogant not to!