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The Importance of Being Ready

20 J0000004UTC 2011

Yesterday was Easter for most folks. For me it was the last ski day of the season, and a great one at that. Perfect bluebird skies, just a little wind, no traffic, no spring breakers, no lift lines, fresh beautiful mountain air, and shin deep powder up high on Loveland’s lift 9. Even the birds were singing. If only I’d have brought my fat skis!DownloadedFile

Yesterday was also the day I was ready. After several meager seasons of telemark skiing, I finally got the guts to get off the big kid lift and ski a steep, powdery black run. This seems like small cookies, but you must understand that I learned to telemark (tele for short) in my 30’s, and it wasn’t easy. Tele skiing is backwards from “regular” or alpine style downhill skiing. It’s also better. It’s more graceful when done correctly; the turns are more deliberate and difficult and there’s more satisfaction at the end of a run. Even the snow you shoosh onto your buddy is richer. I’m not biased. Riding the lift up to the Continental Divide at almost 13,000 feet, I noticed a virtually untracked swath of snowy mountain and said I’m going to ski that– I’m scared, but I’m ready.

And I was. I hopped off, turned left, and found a spot beyond the cornices to pop off the ridge. Sure, I was far from aggressive my first time down, but after a couple long traversing alpine turns, I made amazing, satisfying tele turns all the way down, a far cry from my bunny hill days at Eldora. When I reached the bottom my two front teeth were frozen from the big fat smile on my face.

That’s a little story about being ready for something and it all working out. Pretty nice, huh? Well, I know it doesn’t always work out like that (sometimes we’re not ready, but succeed; sometimes we are ready, but fail; etc), but there is something to get out of it.

This idea came to my attention because I’ve been talking to people lately who want to accomplish things with lifestyle, health, and food, but don’t seem quite ready for what it will require of them. Humans (myself included, and especially Americans, I find) tend to want quick results without careful preparation, mind-shifting, or work in order to get results. We are a pill-popping culture that has not had to watch the proverbial grass grow.

from idontgetit.us

from idontgetit.us

As a nutritionist who does not believe in quick fixes, fad diets, or too much pill-popping, I have to consider for my clients the importance of being ready for whatever their desired goal is because it probably won’t come all too easily. Having the brain, body, and spirit on board is really, really important. If it’s not all packed up and ready for the journey, you’ll just freeze up, stay on the lift, and ride back down to the bottom. No frozen-tooth-smile included.

Here’s a few things you need.

You need to need the thing. Without needing whatever it is, what’s the point? If it’s just someone else saying You should really lose weight or Going paleo is the bomb or Everybody’s doing it (whatever the hell “it” is that particular week), then fuhgeddaboudit. You  specifically need to need whatever the thing is. It needs to be right for your individualized you, not someone else, not the masses, not the airbrushed movie stars on the front of the stupid magazines. If getting a six pack for bathing suit season, taking dairy out of your diet, standing on your head for one minute every hour, or climbing El Capitan is right for you and you need it, then maybe it’s time to consider it. Just for you.

You need to want the thing. This is inextricably linked to point A (see above). Also, this might include liking whatever the thing is, and it might not. For me it did, as I happen to love snow and skiing and the views I get from the Divide. It’s good to at least want what you might get out of your thing. For instance, you might not want to remove gluten from your diet, but you might want to stop your acne, migraines, and diarrhea. Or you might not want to spend time with your idiot husband, but you might want to avoid running off to France with Pierre and ruining your kids lives. It’s nice when it works out that you want the thing and what it gives you as well. But you can’t always get what you want, as the saying goes…

You need to plan ahead and prepare for the thing. I can thank N.O.L.S. and Leave No Trace for this one. Nothing works…nothing works… when you fail to have the tools, supplies, support group, mental space, research, emergency phone numbers, or (in my case) backpack full of snacks and electrolyte enhanced water you need in order to accomplish the task at hand. If you don’t plan ahead and prepare, you will fail, and probably in short order. If you’re planning to do a Spring cleanse and must take bologna, Gruyere cheese, crusty loaves of French bread, Diet Coke, Haagen Dazs, mocha chip Frappuccinos, and Two Buck Chuck out of your daily routine, you need to be ready to fill it with something else. (A lot of nice lean steak, avocados, herbal tea, and greens if you work with me.) It might not be easy, but at least you’ll be ready.

You need your mind and body to come together to the thing. One is not much good without the other. It’s hard to start triathlon training if you have conditioned your muscles, but you think you suck and can’t do it. It’s also hard to start eating greens three times a day if you are psyched, but you hate the taste and your belly can’t digest them. Both sides need tending. When both are tended, they inch closer and begin to work together, as intended. DownloadedFile

You need to be honest: it’s okay to be ready and still be scared. We can’t see the future, damn it. I try all the time and it’s never worked. We want to know ahead of time if it’s going to work out, if we’re going to fall, if all of our striving was worth the pain, and if we are going to get the results we want. We want to know if we’ll ski the black run without eating powder, if gluten was really the culprit, if we really can be thin and gorgeous. The fact is we can’t know ahead of time because the forest is dark and the path is sometimes obscured. Not knowing is scary and makes us feel insecure and tentative. We don’t like to fail, and if we don’t ever try, we won’t. We can just keep mucking along, settling for whatever mediocre or painful situation today holds. Or we can suck it up, be brave, and try, even though it’s scary. I think I know which route is better. I think you know, too.

At the end of the day, we all have stuff we want to change. We all have little goals we’d like to achieve whether it’s debt reduction, making amends with family members, or not eating so many damned chips every day. The fact is that humans– the human mind, body, and spirit– have the capacity and ability to change, even as we age and “become more set in our ways”. Guess what? You can change your health at 34. You can change your mind at 61. You can change your body at 75. You can start skiing blacks at almost-37. You might even like it.

 

 

 

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