What Is Success For You Anyway?

Having got a huge PR on Saturday, then blogged about how the numbers don’t matter, today I had a bit of a metric related blow. We have the amazing opportunity to get regular health checks at work, and today I received the news that my body fat percentage had increased since October of last year, despite eating a reasonably strict Paleo diet and doing roughly 12 hours a week of zone 1 training. Whether the fact is correct or not, it still felt like a slap in the face when I heard it.

Que a call to my personal crisis manager – The Trainer – who has an absolutely amazing knack of asking just the right question at the right time.

Today he asked “What is success for you anyway?”

When I started this journey I said I wanted to be fit and strong. I know now, six months in, that this is flawed because it implies that there is a destination called “fit and strong” that you can one day reach if you only work hard enough. I am now of the opinion that “fit and strong” is very relative. Am I fit now? I’m fitter and stronger than I was last week, last month and last year. Am I fit enough? I can get through most things I want to do at this point, so yes, but there are many things I can’t do still, so no. There will always be more out there to get though and so it seems that fit and strong is a metric that is planning for failure because how will I know I’m there?

So I answered “Healthy. I just want to be healthy”.

And what does that mean? How do I know when I’m healthy? How do I know if I’m successful?  Whilst the numbers don’t matter, I do think it’s important to understand what your destination looks like so that you can tell when you’ve arrived. So here is my definition of successful.

I am healthy when:

  • I know which food choices are positive and making positive choices more times than I don’t
  • I choose to train more times than I don’t and I train anyway even when I really just want to stay in bed
  • I know when I need to rest and I do it without guilt
  • I know what training to do to support my current goals and how to train safely whilst mimimising injury risk
  • I experience less and less angst and turmoil in PT and group exercise classes; I continue to turn up and participate despite any angst and I find ways to understand it and handle it
  • I am not ashamed to say that I choose an active lifestyle
  • I am not intimidated by others who are fitter and stronger than me and I believe I deserve my place in the gym
  • I am living what is popularly accepted “healthy lifestyle” with optimal levels of food, exercise and sleep

So far I’m doing really well against these aims and I’m feeling absolutely great, physically, psychologically and emotionally. There isn’t a destination out there called “success” – I’m successful now.

It’s funny that if you look at Body Fat Percentages I am failing, yet if you just change your perspective, I’m massively and hugely successful. Perspective really matters. What sort of attitude and effort would I take into the gym tomorrow if I was of the opinion I was failing? Wouldn’t make for a positive session. Yet perspective is a choice, so change your perspective, see the positives and suddenly I’m celebrating what I can do, working hard and knowing that I’m achieving all I wanted to.

Eventually, I obviously want the physical metrics – weight, body fat percentage, BMI, cholesterol, and probably more I don’t know about – to be in healthy ranges. But they took more than 20 years to get out of healthy ranges so they’ll likely take their time to catch up with every single positive choice that I make every day. But I do believe that every positive choice I make is banked and will make its mark on those measures eventually.

Until then, I’m #makingithappen and no amount of random GP type metrics will change that fact that I’m out there, working hard and being more proud of myself than I ever dared to imagine.


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