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Stop or go? It's up to you.

Stop-Relax-Go screenprint

Is that voice inside your head staying "Stop?" Or is it "Go?" Photo credit: Flickr/Reuben Whitehouse

This is the last in my four-part series about taking a fitness boot camp class. If you’d like to start at the beginning, here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

My last day of Adventure Boot Camp was Monday. I intended to publish this wrap-up that afternoon, thinking it would be easy to sum up my experience in a neat, little package. But I’m having a hard time talking about what I gained from a month of butt-kicking exercise (besides a reintroduction to my abdominal muscles) without sounding trite.

So instead of dragging you through too many moments of self-discovery, I’ll begin with a challenge. The same challenge my friend used to get me to sign up for Boot Camp in the first place.

Think of Something You Want To Do But Are Afraid To Try. Perhaps it’s an exercise class. Or a new skill you want to learn. Or a medical appointment you need to make, but are avoiding. Or a potential friend you’d like to meet, but are too shy.

Now:

Give me one good reason why you won’t do it.

Seriously. Be honest. What’s holding you back? Is it a real barrier, or something more shifty…like an excuse masquerading as a reason?

If you can’t tell, notice how this “reason” feels. Does it feel solid, like an object you can hold, or does it feel squirmy and evasive? When you say this reason out loud, is your voice steady (if regretful) or sheepish?

This is probably uncomfortable. You may not like me right now. When my friend challenged me about Boot Camp, my first response was to tell her to back off. It took time (and another glass of wine) for me to find the willingness to honestly consider it.

It’s presumptuous (maybe even obnoxious) for me to spring this on you, as we probably don’t even know each other. I’m not calling you a liar, or a lazy, sorry excuse for a human being. I’m not trying to embarrass or guilt you into action. I’m pointing out the biggest lesson I learned from my month of Boot Camp: we are often our own biggest obstacle.

I know I was, and still am. I’ve spent more time regretting my “lack of time for exercise” than I care to admit. I watch my son use up his energy fretting over homework, burning through the reserve he needs to get it done. I’m sure you can come up with an example in your own life.

But there’s a positive side to the obstacle being you. You’re in charge. You don’t need a bulldozer or a magic wand to move this obstacle. YOU CAN MOVE IT WITH YOUR MIND.

Boot Camp has been a powerful demonstration of what happens when I get out of my own way. The hardest moment of that class was stepping through the front door. Once that was over, the rest was easy. I mean, it was super hard, but not as hard as facing the fear of such a challenge.

Hopefully my Boot Camp storytelling has given you the opportunity my friend gave me: the chance to find out something about yourself that’s been hiding for a while. It’s in there, but maybe you need a little nudge to let it out. Consider this your encouraging, friendly, Yoda-like nudge.

Where will you go?

Me? I signed up for another month of Boot Camp!

Thank you for letting me share my workout adventure with you. I had no idea it would get so philosophical and self-helpy around here! I’m a little embarrassed, but it has been wonderful for me to be able to think about this stuff and to hear your stories. Thanks for listening.

Can you tell I spent part of the weekend watching the new Blu-Ray edition of Star Wars? USE THE FORCE, LUKE.

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