I used to jog (very occasionally) in college with a friend of mine.  True to my nature I went slowly and gave up easily.  She’d try to encourage me, cheering me on, telling me I could do it.  I eventually told her to save her breath.  I knew nothing she could say would convince me to keep moving when I’d decided to stop.  This is mainly because it felt fake, forced and as if she were only saying it to keep me moving – not because she actually believed it.  It’s not a reflection on my friend by any means, it’s a reflection of my attitude.

I have this inner quitter in me who is ridiculously quick to rise to the surface.  I blame this part of me for every bit of exercise I’ve ever started and stopped.  Work out videos at home?  Impossible.  My inner quitter starts huffing and puffing and tells me to stop… so I do.  It’s simply as if I have zero faith in myself to achieve something physically difficult and so the moment things get rough, I lose all faith and throw in the towel.  I have to tell you, after reading countless blogs recently about people working themselves extra hard and collapsing in a sweaty heap afterwards and being thrilled they were able to do it, I am wondering how these people didn’t quit.  I have friends who hadn’t exercised in years and, after hearing me talk about the C25K program, they went out and ran 3 miles.  What did they have to say about it?  “Oh, it sucked so bad.  I thought I was going to vomit.”

I hate to say it but I’d have stopped long before the vomiting stage had I been in their shoes.

photo from anarchymag.org

So what is the difference between these people and me?  Why do I find it easier to fail at my exercise goals than succeed?  Where did I acquire this inner quitter?  More importantly, how do I get rid of her?

As for where she came from, I have an idea:  Low expectations.  I might have said this before but I’ll say it again… I don’t remember a time when I could run as fast or for as long as other kids.  I never understood how they could move so fast, why they never got out of breath and I did.  Fast forward into school years and gym classes where everyone seemed to be able to play kickball better, throw a ball better, do pull ups, climb that stupid rope in the gym all the way to the ceiling, succeed at push ups… all things I couldn’t do.

And I guess…over the years with no one encouraging me or telling me “hey kid, with a bit of work, you could do these things too” I learned to believe I can’t do these things.  If I can’t do these things why try?  Quitting saves the embarrassment of trying my best and not succeeding.  Quitting makes the failure MY decision.  It puts me in control.

My inner quitter.  I guess she’s saved me a bit of self esteem over the years.  I guess I’ve used her for a lot of physical inadequacies.  I guess I’ve used her as a crutch.  I’d say she’s served me well only, I don’t want her anymore.  I want to be like my friends who, though they’re hurting and out of breath, the finish their workout.  I want to be like my friends who push themselves and feel like a million bucks at the end of their workouts.  I want to believe in myself, believe I can do it just like they can.

I’m not sure how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to slowly say goodbye to my inner quitter.  I need to work on believing I can.  I need to work on showing myself how far I’ve come.  I need to learn how to push myself and keep going and, even though it feels like I’m about to attempt the impossible, I’ve got to succeed.  I cannot possibly become the person I want to be with this self-sabotaging person inside of me.

I can do it.