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The Beginner’s Mentality

When I think back on 2017, there are several pieces of life that I’m grateful occurred.  Many of them hurt at the time, but, in retrospect, they’ve brought wonderful things into my life.

One piece I’m more excited to take forward with me than any other lesson is a concept that I’ve been calling The Beginner’s Mentality.

This is the name that I’ve given to the concept of being comfortable being a beginner.  It’s understanding and admitting that we don’t know all of the answers and being comfortable learning something new.  It’s being open and eager to see what we don’t know about the world and dropping preconceived notions that we’ve brought forward due to past experiences.

So often, we become used to doing the things we know.  We go to the same places, try to master the same activities over and over again, eat the same foods, wear the same styles, and complete those tasks that feel like they’re the “easiest” for us so that we can feel productive.  But, in reality, only doing the pieces of life we’re familiar with can get us stuck in a rut and prevent us from moving forward.

I am a true testament that doing those things that may seem scary actually does work.  Starting fresh can feel freeing.  And trying something new may lead to opportunities that you may never have known otherwise existed.

Just one example is as follows…

My Downward Spiral

For decades, I’ve only had one request when it comes to working out.

“While I’ll try any type of workout, I HATE running.”

I honestly have no idea where my strong feelings stemmed from or why they even started in the first place.  I’ve never been in a sport where running was required, I had rarely (if ever) run more than a couple of miles at a time, and I was never forced to run at any specific speed.  I just knew that I didn’t like it.

But halfway through 2017, I found myself at a weird turning point.  All due to my mental state that stemmed from external factors, my body wasn’t processing foods, I dropped 12 pounds in a matter of 3 days, my lack of nutrition led to me becoming anemic (thankfully temporarily), and I knew something big had to change.

To cope with the lack of nutrition that my body was taking in, I gave myself almost three months off of tough workouts.  I stuck with a much more limited yoga practice, as well as many hikes and consistent long walks with friends.  But my usual, more intense fitness routine went out the window as I gave myself time to heal.

When my nutrition started to improve and I was given the go-ahead from doctors to start working out again, I struggled more than I thought possible to get back into the swing of things.  My workouts became sporadic, I became bored within a few minutes, and I often skipped in favor of heading to happy hour at a local watering hole.

And it was not a trend I was hoping to continue.

It was around mid-September that I finally decided that something had to be done.

Couch to 5k

When I thought about getting back into working out, I decided that there are four aspects that motivate me to get my a$$ in gear and would prevent me from frequently skipping or making excuses.

  1. I need to be told exactly what to do
  2. There has to be no barrier to getting me out the door
  3. It needs to be something that can be completed on my own schedule
  4. It needs to feel like a challenge

And, ironically enough, the only workout that I could think of that fit all of those specifications was my arch nemesis… running.

And so, with my tail between my legs, I decided to buy some new gym shoes and get started.

I asked several people I know that have gotten into running in the past few years about their favorite way to get involved, and the idea that seemed to sound best for me was the free app called C25K.

Essentially, this app walks you through an 8-week program that slowly increases your runs until you’re able to comfortably run 3.1 miles (the distance of a 5k.) It takes around 30-minutes a day, and includes pre-designed workouts for three days a week.  And, as an added benefit, they give you a little prize at the end of each run, such as three-months free for Apple Music or free months of relevant specialty cable networks.

When I set out on my first “run,” I was dubious.  The training program began as simply as running for 60 seconds, walking for 90 seconds, then repeating for half an hour.  Luckily, it didn’t feel like a crazy challenge, which meant that I felt motivated to at least check it off my list of things to do before work in the mornings.

But what I found fascinating was that the third run of every week felt so much easier.  I was pushing myself, but not overwhelmingly so, I could run in the mornings before work whenever I felt comfortable it was light enough, and my consistent improvement motivated me to keep moving forward with the program.  I cannot speak highly enough about what this program brought to my life!

But then, the real challenge came knocking.  I completed my first 5k at the end of November under the time I expected and without walking at all.  And I haven’t stopped there!

Ugly Sweater 5k with Kahlua

On December 16th, I popped on my festive ugly holiday sweater and walked the few blocks to the start of the Ugly Sweater 5k with Kahlua.

I can’t lie, I was a little nervous when I lined up at the starting line.  I was familiar with the route and it was almost exactly what I was used to running (or trying to run) prior to my divorce and I was so scared that I’d go back to that mental state, or that emotional triggers would come up along the run.

But another completely unexpected thing happened instead… not only did the run feel easy, but my mind felt clear and happy to whole time.  I have no idea if it was the endorphins, the fact that Kahlua made the ambiance of this run a complete blast, or that I couldn’t stop laughing at the hilarious sweaters I saw along the route, but I honestly came out of this 5k feeling like I crossed a major hurdle.

Kahlua set up the event to have a crazy, awesome ambiance, filled with puppies in ugly holiday sweaters, delicious Kahlua beverages following the run, and awesome happy hours at several area bars that ran deep into the night.  Plus, you know I got in on the photo booth fun.  I will definitely be attending next year’s event, as well.

Personally, this event meant more to me than I even expected.  Crossing the finish line, one that was almost in the same exact spot where I used to feel depressed and stuck in a life that felt unfamiliar, I now felt free, accomplished, focused, and energized to take on the world.

The Lesson

What I learned from this experience is that I will always listen to my gut and try something new.  There should be no fear or stress or embarrassment about feeling like a beginner.  In fact, we’re all beginners in one way or another.

So I suggest that you consider trying new things this year and jumping in with both feet.  You might just accomplish way more than you had ever expected.


*Note: This content was sponsored in partnership with our friends at Kahlua.  Thank you for all of your support, and always remember to drink responsibly.

To learn more and to check out my running progress, follow along on Instagram to be the first to hear about all of the fun.

Create a great life!

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