Fought and Won

West Wing’s President Bartlet has a quote which rang true for me: “Don’t you ever forget the battles you’ve fought and won.”

I stepped on the scale this morning and was crestfallen to see my weight had risen by a handful of pounds after my recent business trip, despite my daily runs continuing. The gain can be attributed to poor eating which accompanies that sort of trip. Despite nearly 70 lbs of weight lost thus far, the gain of just a handful of pounds feels gut wrenching for me. It feels like I lost the war despite my progress.

It was then that this fantastic quote from West Wing jumped out at me during my lunch break:

Don’t you ever forget the battles you’ve fought and won. – Pres. Bartlet

This quote is from President Bartlet (Martin Sheen), to Leo McGarry (John Spencer), concerning the news of Leo’s history of drug problems about to come to light in the press, during Episode 11 of Season 1. While the situation is vastly different than anything I’ve experienced, it still resonates deeply with me.

I think one of the major problems that people struggle with when it comes to lifestyle changes of all kinds, but especially in health, is that they see it all as one giant battle rather than a war. The complete journey from couch potato to born-again athlete is not a single drawn out battle, it’s a long, entrenched, war.

The difference is that a war is made up of a number of battles, with the winner of the war possibly losing multiple battles. So as soon as someone sees a failure they feel the war is lost, rather than seeing it as just a setback in the war as a whole.

Everybody’s got plans… until they get hit.

I don’t know if that quote should truly be attributed to Mike Tyson or not, but it is, and it’s relevant here. Often people focus on the best case scenario and so when the results deviate they get frustrated, or scared, and throw in the towel. They think they’re knocked out when instead they are just knocked down.

When you get knocked down its time to get back up. No matter how many times you get knocked down you, especially while fighting to lose weight, have to keep fighting.

For all of November I have been fighting a battle everyday by aiming to run a mile everyday. I chose to do it for two primary reasons:

  1. Build the mental fortitude and strength that forces me to run everyday without missing one.
  2. Test myself and see if I was actually capable of doing it.

As of this posting I have just one more mile to run to hit my goal thus succeeding on both counts, winning both battles in this war.

Remember that it was just three months ago when I discovered I could run a mile and so that first point was the main thing holding me back from running more. I needed to learn how to run through pain, tiredness, and learn to ignore my brain when it begs me to stop.

Top photo ‘Apollonius, Boxer at Rest‘ courtesy of profzucker on Flickr. Photo of a boxer provided by the Boston Public Library.

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