We interrupt your regularly scheduled article filled with practical strength training and nutrition information to help you build a healthier body without resorting to miserable dieting tactics or grueling workouts to bring you this important message about bad luck, soggy hiking boots, and a bit of optometry.
Imagine for a moment you and I are going on a hike together on a midsummer afternoon. We choose a trail that cuts through a thick forest.
As we begin, I comment on the remnants of trash littering the entrance of the trail. “Stupid people who are too lazy to throw away their garbage,” I grumble. Minutes later I point out the poison ivy that edges the trail, and then the venomous snake sunbathing a few yards past that and say, “Ugh, I hate snakes and poison ivy. Those could ruin this day quickly.”
An hour into the hike the trails winds through the pine needle covered forest floor and I remark on the suffocating humidity, scorching sun, the thorns that tear into my shins, the blister forming on my left heel, and the fatigue setting in. We approach a swollen stream and cautiously tip-toe across on the exposed rocks. Despite our efforts we both slip and have a foot submerge into the water. “What else could go wrong!” I fuss as I shake the excess water out of my soggy boot.
I am, apparently, miserable. But not you. A smile has been glued to your face since the hike began.
When I saw garbage littering the trail head, you spotted flowers blooming in the sunshine squeezing between the trees. When I whined about the poison ivy and snake you filled your lungs with fresh air and watched a hawk soar above the treetops. When I bellyached about the oppressive humidity and heat you soaked in midsummer’s beauty and her bounty. While I complained about getting tired and my blister collection and scrapes, you welcomed the invigorating challenge. When I was cursing my soggy boot, you kept walking and laughed with each squish of your saturated foot.
And there we were. Two people on the same trail, in the same situation. Yet each of us had two remarkably different experiences. It’s almost like we hiked two different trails.
We’ve all known someone (maybe we are that someone) who claims to be the recipient of never-ending bad luck. It’s like the world singled them out because terrible things always happen to them … so they boldly claim. They get sick; their car breaks down; the air conditioner goes out in the middle of summer on a holiday weekend; their team lost the big game; someone took the last piece of cake at work; they get a nagging injury when they finally start working out. “This stuff always happens to me” is their motto. They fancy themselves a bad-luck magnet.
Break the Bad Luck Streak
Regardless of the choices we face or the events that happen throughout the day, we have two lenses we can choose to view them from. In one hand is the lens that distorts events as being “bad luck” or “shit” or “unfortunate.” In the other hand is the lens that homes in on what has happened, what is — free from distortion or distraction — and gives us the power to glimpse and choose to see “beauty” or “good” or, at the very least, reality. Without any messy extrapolation.
There was a time I frequently viewed events through the “shit” lens. Words like “suck” and “dislike” and “bad luck” and others with a negative connotation would pass my lips. Then I got a little older, a smidge wiser, and realized I could choose which lens to look through. With awareness and practice, I stopped picking up the “bad luck” lens and began choosing to see the good things.
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A funny thing happens when we choose to look for the good, the beautiful things. We can see them everywhere, even in unexpected circumstances. Likewise, if we typically laser in on the bad or unfortunate things, we can avert our gaze and look elsewhere or, more simply, erase the “bad luck” or “unfortunate” labels we assign to them.
Bad Luck and Fitness
This website is dedicated to providing health and fitness information that doesn’t suck. You may think this article is a departure from that goal, but you’d be wrong. The same mentality discussed above — choosing which lens to view events — can, and should be, applied to health and fitness.
Did you have a “bad” workout, or was showing up and getting it done a victory?
Did you “fail” when you ate pizza and ice cream and blew past your allotted caloric intake for the day, or did you have a great time socializing and enjoying your favorite foods knowing you’ll get back on track with the next meal?
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Do you have a nagging ache or injury that’s preventing you from working out the way you’re accustomed to, or is this an opportunity to focus on what you can do and improve in exercises/areas you otherwise wouldn’t?
Did you “let yourself go” and gain excess weight over the years and now find yourself hating your body, or are you seeing the compounding effects of previous years of choices and now know you can start walking in a more healthful and rewarding direction?
Do you typically exercise to punish yourself for overeating or for having fat on your body, or will you choose to exercise to make yourself stronger and healthier and a better version of yourself?
No matter what situation you face today, tomorrow, the day after, you will have the choice of viewing the situation from one of two lenses. Which one will you hold in front of your eyes? What will you choose to see?
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