Now one thing you learn from this game is not to be greedy. If you ask for fifteen giant steps, the chances of the Mother denying your request were pretty high. However, you could ask for the same number of baby steps and would likely receive a, “Yes, you may.”
I am not sure why, but when I was doing one of my 800m runs at Crossfit this week, I began to think of this game. It occurred to me that my journey through life, and specifically my journey to flabulousness, is really like one big game of Mother May I. Sometimes it’s as if the Mother says I can take one giant step, and then other times even the baby steps seem out of reach. I look to the right and to the left of me and it seems like these “players” are making more forward progress despite the fact that I am working just as hard as they are.
At the same time, I was thinking of my boss at work and her philosophy of change. She is always reminding us that if we want people to begin to make change, to do things differently than they have in the past, we should expect them to move forward in baby steps. To me, this can also be applied to my journey to better health and fitness.
For example, when I started running a year-and-a-half ago, I couldn’t run longer than a minute before my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest, and it was so hard to breathe I was certain I would collapse to the ground. Now I can run 30 or 40 minutes straight without slowing down a bit. Eight months after I began running, I finished my first half-marathon in just under three hours at 2:58ish…my last few halves I have been able to finish in under 2:25. Last year I ran my fastest 5K in 32:00, and this last Sunday I made it in 29:43 and was 30 seconds from receiving a 3rd place medal in my age division. I need to remember that every day I run a little faster, and I am also getting stronger, which gradually increases my endurance—baby steps.
In addition, when I started Crossfit, I was embarrassed to even be working out in the same room as some of these incredibly fit people. I could barely jump up onto a twelve-inch box, I couldn’t do one pull up, and the most weight I could squat was the 15-pound bar…and even that hurt my shoulders. On Tuesday, I was able to jump up onto the eighteen-inch box 40 times without falling over, was finally able to at least do a modified pull-up (80 of them), and actually squatted 45 pounds. I know this may not seem like a huge jump forward, but I am continuing to increase my strength just a bit every day—baby steps.
My husband was sharing another story that relates to this. On Monday he had strained his elbow lifting weights during a workout. On Friday, as he was doing a pull-up workout, our coach, Al, asked him how his elbow was feeling. “My elbow feels fine, “ Sean replied, jokingly. “It’s my overall fitness that is hurting.” They both laughed, but Al, sensing Sean’s real frustration, told him that it is important not to compare himself to some of the other people in the gym who have been working out, in some cases, for years. “The only person you should be comparing yourself to," Al explained, “is the person who first walked into this gym when you got started at Crossfit.” Sean said that this conversation really helped him keep things in perspective and reminded him to value making steady, incremental progress instead of expecting unrealistic gains—baby steps
I am not where I want to be weight-wise yet, but I have kept off sixty pounds, and my clothes fit better than they have in years. I still have the same twenty-five pounds I have been trying to get off for the last six months, but my body is trimmer due to all the weight training and running. I think this weight loss plateau is the area of my fitness that most frustrates me, but I know that the times in the past when I have tried for the speedy diet fix and miraculously fast weight loss, old habits, along with the weight, returned to deflate any gains just as quickly. Again, I need to embrace the many small changes I have made over the year and not get caught up in trying to achieve my goal all in one giant step only to be sent back to the start line—baby steps.