Monday, March 4, 2013


When I was teaching, I got into a heated and passionate exchange with a student when we talked about the potential of the mind. Every person is born with a wide range of potential -- they can choose to achieve at the lower end of that potential, the upper end, or anywhere in between. My student felt that everyone has unlimited potential -- that if they put their mind to it, anyone can achieve anything. It's a nice thought, but it's not so. While that range is vast and most of us do not ever reach that higher limit, that limit is indeed there. 

Go back to school with me for a moment. I'd be willing to bet a hard-earned dollar that there was someone in your class who earned straight A's with little or no effort. I'd be equally willing to bet that there was someone in your class who worked their ass off for C's. I guess I was pretty lucky in the school arena. I could pretty consistently pull B's with no effort at all and could bring it up to an A with a little bit of work.

My parents were fond of telling me that I did not live up to my potential.

God, just typing that made me roll my eyes.

I believe it's like that with our bodies, too.

Some people have nice bodies, according to the grading system known as society, and maintain them with little or no effort. Some will catch themselves losing a little bit of tone and put a little effort in and be right back where they want to be with just a little bit of effort. Some work consistently, every day, to maintain their above average physiques. Some work their asses off just to be average. That last one is me. And, in almost a year, I haven't QUITE achieved average. I guess I'd be a solid D student, if we were extending the analogy. I get tutoring. I study hard every day. I'm hoping to one day bring my D up to a C. 

A C would be a huge win.

For some people -- for a LOT of people -- a C is as good as a fail. But not for the people who work really hard for that C. A hard-earned C beats an easy A any old day in this former teacher/mother's book.

I have to work really hard to achieve the physical goals that most people meet just by waking up and breathing.

Just like the student who busts their ass for a C, and is judged poorly next to the person who just rolled out of bed and pulled a B without even cracking the book.

I've already confessed that -- in the student analogy -- I was one of the lucky ones. Not one of the luckiEST ones, but pretty darn lucky. But I've worked with those students who wanted it BADLY and had to really really work for it. The day that D student pulls a C+? Well, that's a happy day. That is an honest, hard-earned grade that he/she deserves to be ridiculously proud of.

And so it is with my feeble progress in the fitness arena. I am not good at any of the things I do. I grunt and posture and pose like I am sometimes -- and people indulge me, the way one would indulge a child who felt the need to announce how great they are at everything. But the truth is -- even though my achievements might not look like much on paper -- I have worked hard for them. 

And I have to keep working -- keep working hard -- just to maintain the progress I've made.

If that student we've been talking about missed a class or two, he/she would have to work like crazy to catch up. It wouldn't be a matter of just reading a couple chapters -- like it might be for someone with a different range of potential.

It's like that for me, too.

If I let things slide -- even for a couple days -- I get so far behind that it's hard to see how I'll ever get back.

I want to reach the top of my potential. 

That point, I've come to realize. will not be an A on life's report card. But if I could just pull that C... 


Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I could have been fit with a little consistent effort, but I was too lazy. Now at 70, I really have to work to get fit and stay healthy. Your efforts now are well worthwhile, and you deserve to celebrate every victory.

Anonymous said...

Tammy I started reading your blog when I saw it on Johnna's FB a while back. I want you to know that I understand the struggle with weight you talk about and wish I had the drive you do. You look wonderful and I am happy for you. I so remember the feeling of accomplishment I used to feel when I lost weight...only I never ever got fit because I hate to excuse I could think of. Keep going and never give up...when you are older you will be so thankful!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hey Tammy, This was such a true and honest post. Thanks for telling it like it is. And congratulations for hanging in there and continuing to work at your goal. It's not easy but your attitude is pretty darn great and I'm cheering you on.
xoxo jj