An Above-Average Start to the Year

This is my first post of 2015, and I’ll start out by wishing you all a very Happy New Year! I hope you have sufficiently recovered from all the year-end/new year festivities. If you’re like me, you were more than ready to get back to normal, everyday life.

My new year started off okay–not bad, not great, just okay. But a few days into it, everything kicked into high gear, and believe it or not, it all started with a compliment I received waaaay back in 2011. If you were reading this blog back then, you were here for it, but unless your memory is 1000 times better than mine, you won’t remember it. I hadn’t even thought about it in years.

Short version: A very nice man at my then-gym introduced himself as a personal trainer and suggested I might benefit from working with him. Having recently finished working with trainers for over a year, I felt comfortable on my own and said so. He was great with that–not pushy at all–and we continued our respective workouts.

As I was working my way through my second circuit, the same nice man came up to me and gave me one of the best compliments I’d ever received:

“Save your money; you don’t need a trainer. You’re definitely above average.“

I get shivers even now just thinking about it. (Yes, I am a gym nerd.)

Fast forward four years. Over the weekend, a new friend from my Facebook resale group asked if she could post an ad for her husband’s business and included a copy of the ad. You probably guessed that the ad was for that guy from the gym It turns out he’s her husband! Small world, isn’t it?

While we were OMG-ing back and forth, I remembered The Compliment and that I’d blogged about it, so I tracked down the entry. As I read it, that same sense of pride and awe that I’d felt back then washed over me. I wasn’t kidding when I said that I considered being labeled “above average” by a trainer to be quite the accomplishment. Just a few short years before, I’d been a complete couch surfer who couldn’t even do a single push-up.

Rereading that post was a happy memory, one that carried over into that afternoon’s workout. As I approached each exercise, that “above average” memory floated through my mind and I either increased the planned weight or the number of reps or both. I’ve been having good workouts–average, you might say–but I’m “above average” and it’s time I acted like it. And I did. :)

Funny, in a wonderful way, how one little compliment from four years ago has resurfaced to inspire and motivate me today. There’s a lesson in that, for the gym and beyond.

Have you ever had a compliment from the past resurface to inspire you again?



Lessons from That Old House

There’s been a great deal of drama (and a fair share of comedy) in my neighborhood this week. We’ve had news crews camped out and helicopters circling overhead. Residents have set up lawn chairs to watch the story progress. Or not progress, as it turned out. And it’s all because of what everyone’s calling “that old house.”

It seems the Wills family sold some property they owned in a commercial corridor. On that property was an old farmhouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places. To save the family home, they decided to move it onto a residential lot they own about a mile away.

map routes for kirby farm house move

As you can see from the map, there were two possible options. The blue route would take them down a wide, heavily traveled road and would likely require the temporary removal of two sets of traffic signals. The gray route would take them through a subdivision with wide streets. The chose the gray route to minimize “inconvenience.”

The map shows it to be a 3-minute trip either way by car (21 minutes walking, unless you’re me and then it takes about 18 minutes), but naturally you expect it to take longer when you’re hauling a house. A couple hours? A half-day, at most. NO ONE expected it to take three days.

Getting started was the first problem the movers encountered. That old house was adjacent to some railroad tracks, and for a short time, the house was stuck ON the tracks.

Once they cleared it and made the wide turn into the subdivision, the truck’s axle broke and the truck and house were left to block the street overnight. Thus ended Day 1.

The house moved about two blocks on day 2. I’m not sure who measured everything (it wasn’t me), but apparently trees, mailboxes, fire hydrants and streetlights were not taken into account. As the house inched (literally!) along, every obstacle had to be considered and cleared. This sometimes required chainsaws and jackhammers.

The house did suffer a bit of damage when the crew cleared the limbs of a threatening oak tree but seemed to miss noticing the stately magnolia on the other side of the street. Fortunately, the damage can be repaired. At the end of Day 2, the house approached a fire hydrant, too big an obstacle to be cleared that day.

On Day 3, that old house finally affected me. As it finally(!) approached its new home, it was stuck while utility crews temporarily removed some power lines that had also apparently gone unnoticed in the planning phase. Since I had no electricity, I moseyed over to check things out personally.

that old house blocking the road

Yep, it was stuck. As I stood there watching the house going nowhere, it occurred to me that there were lessons to be learned from its journey.

  • Planning is important in any endeavor. Anticipate the obstacles before you begin.
  • No matter how much you plan, there will still be surprises. Be prepared for them.
  • Some obstacles are so large, it’s tempting to abandon the journey. Continue. Always.
  • Sometimes you can get so focused on one obstacle, you miss another one completely. Both the big picture and the small picture are important.
  • No matter which route you take on a journey, someone is going to be inconvenienced. Life isn’t always convenient.
  • Some journeys take a lot longer than anticipated. Be prepared to wait.
  • Some progress is measured in miles, some in inches. It’s all still progress.
  • Even when you arrive at your destination, the journey isn’t over. Keep your bags packed.

At around 5 last night, the house was on the lot. It’s still on the truck because there are repairs and fine tuning that must happen before it’s set into place. The project took longer than anticipated, but the house got to where it needed to be…eventually.

As will we all. :)

“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
― Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story



Alphabet Soup: H (as in Hurry Up and Post Before Something Else Comes Up)

Despite appearances to the contrary, The Tippy Toe diet has NOT become a monthly or semi-monthly blog. Things just keep coming up!

But it’s quiet right now, so I’m going to sneak in my next installment of Alphabet Soup, the series in which I explore–alphabetically–the words and concepts that help me with weight management.

lower case h blue floral“H”, as it turns out, was/is a very helpful letter for me in dealing with matters of weight.

First and foremost, the concept of making healthier choices, even if not always the healthiEST choice, helped me transition from a mostly ridiculous diet to one that made me feel good and supported the path to a healthier weight. When I first started, especially, I didn’t worry so much about making the BEST choice, just BETTER than I’d been making in the past. As time passed, I continued to make even healthier choices until I’d eliminated most (but not all) of the icky stuff from my life. I’ll probably never have a 100% healthy diet, but 90% or so is a whole lot healthier than what I did before!

Hand in hand with making healthier choices is habit-izing those choices–making it so that it was hard NOT to do them. For example, I set up my exercise schedule for immediately after work, almost like an extension of my workday. Now that I’m not working a traditional work schedule, it’s a little more iffy on workdays, but I still get the exercise in most days. It’s just as hard to ignore a good habit when it’s not there anymore as it is a not-so-good habit you’re trying to eliminate. (Hello, full-sized Snickers bars!)

Moving on, unrelenting honestly is another big contributor to my success in (mostly) managing my weight. It’s also proving helpful in managing my life, but that’s a story for another blog. :) One little question completely turns almost any situation around for me: Is it true? Not only does it knock out any excuses and keep me honest that way, it also helps pick me up at those times when I’m certain ruin and mayhem lurk just around the next corner.

Finally, a sense of humor sure does help a lot. For so many of us, weight and size are emotional territory filled with many dashed hopes and dreams, past hurts and failures, etc. It’s no wonder that we take it all so seriously. For me to break free of those chains, I tapped into my weird but ever-present sense of humor and found ways to make it fun.

There are probably more H words I could discuss, but those are the big ones. As always, I’ll count on you to fill in the gaps! :)