By Dr. Emil Tompkins, a Chiropractor in Tucson, AZ with a passion for family health and wellness.
Recently my family decided to compete in a spartan race. My son and my younger brothers all took the challenge and committed to train for and race a grueling 8.5 mile run in the mountains climbing walls, lifting 400lb tires and subjecting ourselves to massive amounts of discomfort, testing our body’s limits. When it was all over, the thrill of survival was real, and the reality of what we accomplished was felt by each of us. I also realized that the preparation and the race reminds me of our journey towards health. The steps to achieve a Spartan finish, aren’t much different than the steps to ensure you are achieving your health goals.
You must prepare for the struggle. Training is a must if you’re preparing to complete a spartan race. Your days are filled with running, weight lifting, push ups, pull ups and all sorts of exercises that will improve your strength and endurance. It’s not easy, but if you’re prepared than you won’t be surprised when you hit an obstacle. When taking the journey towards health, prepare yourself that your days won’t be easy, especially at first. Pay close attention to what you’re eating and how you’re exercising so that you will not only fee better, but improve your health in the process. Know what you’re going to do when you eat out, or meet up with friends. If you have a plan to deal with moments of struggle, you’re more likely to be successful.
Teamwork is a must:
Our team was committed to “never leave our teammates behind”. We knew that during a race like this, one of us would get cramps, struggle to complete an obstacle, or simply feel like we can’t go further. Each member of the team took responsibility to help each other get through, no matter what was in front of us. Make sure you have a partner in your health. Don’t change your diet for the better, only to watch your family eat the same foods that they always have. You won’t be successful preparing multiple meals. Also, when the family is part of the plan, you have someone who will support you at difficult times. They will warn you against those brownies instead of eating them in your face.
Don’t be afraid to fail:
Inevitably we will run into an obstacle that is impossible to complete. We could take that frustration and feel like we cannot continue. But the joy of the spartan race is that you perform lots of “burpees”. Now that may not sound like a lot of fun, but those burps provide a break from running, and they make you stronger. If you didn’t have the setback, you wouldn’t have the opportunity to build your strength. In your health, you may have a setback. Maybe you couldn’t resist fast food one day, or you didn’t accomplish the right amount of exercise over the week. Don’t take that setback and give up. Use it to motivate you to get back up and do better next time. Allow those setbacks to make you stronger.
Embrace the unknown:
At the end of the race we were standing in a pit of muddy water and you had to go under the water, beneath a wall, and back up the other side.
You couldn’t see inside the water because it was muddy, and you couldn’t see the other side because there was a wall in the way.
No problem. We just went under the wall and came out on the other side. But there was a problem. Not all of us were willing to go under. My brother was stuck on the other side of the wall unwilling to travel underneath. He had no desire to go under.
It took lots of coercion, even some hand-holding, but he made it under and out of the other side. The best part, only one more easy wall climb and the race was over. The goal was achieved and the satisfaction was greater than the fear that kept him behind that wall.
Sometimes the unknown can be frightening. Maybe it’s a new food, a new exercise. Maybe you worry about whether it will taste bad or that it will hurt. Either way, just remember that moving forward in ways you’ve never before experienced can have lifelong consequences. Make the decision to take care of your health today. And with preparation, teamwork, willingness to fail, and conquering the unknown, you are sure to be successful.
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