Dan’s Winning “Stop the Slop Challenge” Essay (He will be receiving some swag, stuff, and money and will announce prizes for all winners as soon as we retest the Performance Challenge WOD this next Monday):
Pushups and Coconut Milk: Finding the Cure for Low Expectations
By Dan L.
It’s easy to have low expectations – the low hanging fruit for our self-confidence. Low expectations are almost always a sure thing and they rarely lead to disappointment. With low expectations, it’s easy to feel like we have accomplished something, even if that something was never that difficult to begin with – no challenge and very little reward. Truthfully, setting low expectations is just one way of saying to ourselves that we are content with mediocrity, which is a profane term that means we have made the choice never to experience the fullness of the life that has been laid out for us. As such, we will simply do what is comfortable which can be a gray and muted existence filled with the absence of passion. Dante speaks candidly and uncomfortably about mediocrity when he says that, “this miserable way is taken by the sorry souls of those who lived without disgrace and without praise.” In an effort to prevent failure, we may inadvertently sacrifice truly living.
Sadly, I believe that fear is the reason we are all too often satisfied with mediocrity. The fear of failure can be paralyzing and the fear of being looked upon by others as insufficient can be downright fatal – causing us to do everything in our power to simply blend in. Apply this to any aspect of our lives. As I’m writing I think, “I thought this was just supposed to be a high school problem.” I wish it was, but in my experience it seems that adults (all of us) have the same fears and insecurities we did when we were teenagers, but with the added pressures and responsibilities that come with being a “grown-up.”
All of this plays out in the arena of fitness, just as it does in business, family and every other area of life. In a culture that thrives on the pursuit of physical perfection (or should I say the appearance of it), our fears are feasted upon by judgmental eyes and gossiping mouths. It’s easy to look at the media and advertising, which we are inundated with every day, and choose to see everything we are not. Our vision for fitness may become more about being someone else than being the best version of who we already are. We let this strange twist on reality set unattainable expectations that only serve to feed the fear and medicate by simply lowering the expectations instead of changing them.
If we can pick one fear to start with – one fear to put to death – why not choose our fear of physical health? Why not make the decision to push ourselves and change our expectations? Too many hours in my own life have been consumed with fear and mediocrity, and it simply isn’t worth it. Enough with low expectations. In fact I think there is only one expectation worth having – to live the life that has been given to us and strive for excellence in everything even if it means experiencing failure.
There is nothing magical about these thirty days – nothing that can’t be undone in one week of normalcy. Yet it challenges us, if we choose to see it this way, to something greater. It challenges us to raise the bar in one area of our life – physical health. It challenges us to reject our fear of failure and our fear of insufficiency and see what excellence might actually look like for us. If I can fuel and train my body by constantly testing my limits and tracking my progress, can I not do the same for my mind and soul? All of these together are what make us human, and make us excellent at the things that matter: spouse, parent, and friend.
What if I fail at eating healthy? What if I am too entrenched in my old ways? What if I can’t find a way to substitute coconut milk for everything? What if I have to perform all of my god-forsaken hand-release pushups from my knees? One thing is for certain – if I don’t try, nothing will change, and that is what I am most afraid of (well, maybe not the coconut milk). Stop the Slop is whatever we choose to make of it, but I see it as another opportunity to see the fear in my life diminish into a puddle of blood and sweat on the floor (which must be properly wiped down and sanitized of course).