Walt Disney and John Wayne Give Great Advice

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney
I remember when I needed to wear size 3XL scrubs. I was miserable, but I had given up. I assumed I was just destined to be fat. And it was embarrassing to work in an ER and be nearly 300 pounds. I wanted to weigh less, but I was afraid to try, because I was afraid to fail. Again. I dreamt of being “near normal”, of wearing clothes that did not come from a “Big and Tall” section of the store.
When I finally made the decision, my wife and I started a “diet”. We lost weight, for a while, and then we predictably put it back on. Finally, in May 2011, I decided that enough was enough and started using LoseItand she started using Weight Watchers. We both realized that if we didn’t take action—now—things would only get worse, until very bad things began to happen.
We were both committed to our goal, and yet we were both scared. We were worried about what our friends and relatives would say, but the compliments and the sharp little attacks, such as, “Oh, so you’re trying to lose weight again, hm? What makes you think it will work this time?”
We were afraid of failing.
We didn’t stop. We lost weight. We donated clothes as soon as the no longer fit. We have supported our local Goodwills with all our donated clothes (and we shop there, too.) We got more active. I started walking and discovered that I enjoy it. I bought a Fitbit. My wife got active with DVD exercise routines and yoga.
And the losses continued. We continued to be afraid of failing, of reverting back to our old habits. We developed a habit of planning a week’s worth of meals, and buying only what we need for the meals. We got into the habit of walking our dog once or twice a day. We started parking as far from the entrance to stores as possible and getting extra walking. I stopped using elevators.
We continued have successes and we continued to be fearful of this being only temporary. We solidified our habits, sort of making them institutionalized. We developed a grocery shopping list that I have on my computer to make shopping more efficient. We have our weekend routine of hitting various thrift stores together. We eat meals together when my teaching/clinical schedule allows it, sitting at the dinner table, not in front of the TV. We get up early in the morning to walk and workout. We eat a hearty breakfast and I prepare every day. I pack our lunches and snacks for the day.
We stopped feeling “fear” about slipping back. We were too focused on our plan to have time to worry. We just kept on doing what was working. Life became routine. Weighing and measuring food was normal. The losses continued.
And then I hit my goal. To reinforce my commitment, I tattooed a phrase on my right wrist, forever reminding me to never quit. (An explanation of the phrase can be found in a blog post from January 19, 2012.)My wife continued to lose weight. Fear of failure subsided, but was replaced by eternal vigilance. And the fear of regaining. I continued to weigh/measure my food, and log everything. I still do, and plan to continue until the day arrives where I am unable to care for myself.
My wife’s losses have eclipsed my own. Her success has been remarkable and serves as my inspiration. She is my hero. My maintenance for 16+ months serves as her inspiration, as validation that successes can be realized. She calls me her hero.
We started this journey out of fear. We feared what could—no, what would—happen if we left our habits and practices continue unchecked. In the ER, I cared for people who had heart attacks and strokes. Diabetes and high blood pressure were common conditions. I was afraid of that. Moreover, I was afraid that when I had my heart attack—not if, but when—I would be that patient who required a “team boost” because I was too heavy for two people to move in the bed. I was ashamed of myself in advance.
Fear propelled us into action, and helped to keep us on track. Our fear of failure was great. It was not great enough to prevent us from quitting, but it was great enough to serve as a light whip at our backs.  We used it to motivate us, not to cripple our efforts.
Our dreams are coming true, because we were not too afraid to act. We had the courage to succeed. As David Joseph Schwartz said, “Do what you fear and fear disappears.”
John Wayne said it even better: “Courage is being scared to death…and saddling up anyway.”

Note: the links to LoseIt and Fitbit are my affiliate links. That means if you click on those and buy one (or both) I will receive a small commission. It does not change your cost at all, but it will help me continue to provide recipes and advice here and in my podcast Make Your Someday Today

You Can’t Do That! It’s Impossible! It’s Crazy!

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” Paulo Coelho

For those of you keeping track (you know who you are!), today was day 7 of my Cold Shower challenge.

My what????

Joel Runyon, entrepreneur and adventurist, founded a company based on the idea that nothing is impossible and to reach their goals, people need to be willing to endure some discomfort on the way to success. Part of this is a challenge to take a 5 minute cold shower, every day for 30 or more days.

Yes. I know. I am crazy. That has long been established. Now that we have that label applied and out of the way, how do I survive the shower? I fire up my iPhone, get some music pumping, and turn the shower on cold. No hot water at all. (Currently, the water temperature is about 63F/17C.)  That’s the key. Start cold. Don’t start warm and then turn it down. Just get in and confront it. (I would say “Man up” but as a nurse educator, I teach my students to always be gender inclusive.) Climb in. The first 30-60 seconds are terrible. Seriously. It’s cold, but it burns, too. It will take your breath away. If the phrase “WTH am I doing????” doesn’t repeatedly go through your head, then you probably don’t have the water on ice cold.

Then what? Jump around (safely). Pump your arms. Shadow box your ice cold opponent. Maybe let loose a Norse battle cry. (Or whatever.) Do whatever you need to do to get through that first minute. Because at about that time, your mind’s voice gets tired of shouting obscenities at you, and your body starts adapting. It becomes less cold. It will never get warm, but it becomes tolerable. Really. That is not my hypothermic brain talking, you really will begin to get used to it.

Actual water temperature

It is cold. It is not impossible. In fact, it is incredible how you feel when you climb out, NEVER having turned on the warm water. I am energized! I think the reason hot showers are relaxing is that they sap energy away. Cold brings it on!

But it is not about the cold water. The cold shower is the merely vehicle through which you begin to train your mind and body. Enduring the cold is about making a decision to purposely do something that is uncomfortable. We all avoid things that we know are uncomfortable. We postpone writing that paper (or grading one.) We avoid the dentist or doctor. We decide to sleep in instead going to a walk/run.

Every time we make that decision to remain comfortable, regardless of the context, it makes avoiding discomfort easier next time. And sometimes, the discomfort is the price of success. Likewise, the longterm price of immediate comfort can be devastating (increased stress on the job from an ever-increasing workload, poor health, and weight gain.)

I tell my students that you cannot learn by staying within your comfort zone. Learning and growth occurs when we step beyond what we have already mastered and risk failing at something new. I try to “walk the walk” and lead by example.

We purposely eat less than we want and less than we have in the past (which causes some discomfort) and we exercise more (which may be major discomfort). However, because we voluntarily endured discomfort, we lose weight. If you are in sales, making cold calls can be very uncomfortable, but if you don’t do it, you won’t sell anything. No sales means no income and that can be even more uncomfortable! We stay up late into the night when we would prefer to be sleeping so that we can finish an important assignment. We are frequently given choices, and sometimes the temporary discomfort is the price we must pay for longer term happiness.

Avoiding pain and danger makes sense, but cold water isn’t painful nor is it dangerous. And it gives you the frame of mind that says “What else can I conquer today?”

Has it been a dream of mine to take cold showers? No! (What are you, nuts? I LOVE hot showers.) But I also want to grow beyond my current limits, and I want to help others grow, too. That WILL require me to step outside my comfort zone. I am training myself now so that I am mentally prepared for my future challenges. And we all experience challenges.

  • Why not start learning to face challenges head on, right now?
  • Why not show yourself that discomfort is temporary but conquering it is empowering?
  • What impossible challenge are you going to attempt today?

“The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” Tommy Lasorda

For more information, go to Joel Runyon’s website:
Here is another article reinforcing why you should try cold showers.
By the way, I learned of Joel Runyon and his Cold Shower Challenge on Meron Bareket’s “Inspiring Innovation” podcast #29 http://meronbareket.com/how-to-do-the-impossible/

If you haven’t listened to Meron’s podcast, you should give it a try! He interviews entrepreneurs who we may not have heard about (yet), and reveals their success stories, providing weekly life lessons that we can use to improve our lives and empower us to achieve greatness. (Yeah, I am a fan!)

No stress. Nope. None at all!

The television cooking segments are two days away.

I decided to make Seared Tuna BLT, Baked Zucchini Fries and for dessert, the Strawberries with Balsamic Vinegar.

Thanks to Adrianne Ewald, Bushman, Fog and Flare, Andrew Carpenter, Louise Ciarleglio, and Chuck for helping me to set the menu. I appreciate your feedback here on the blog and on my Facebook page.

For those of you who live in the Green Bay area, this will be on WLUK Fox 11, on “Good Day, Wisconsin.” My segments are at 7:50am and 8:50am and will last 3-4 minutes. When the show is done, I will post links here (unless I can embed the video segments here directly. I will look into that.)  Watch for that probably on Sunday evening. As soon as I am done cooking, I need to drive home, pick up my family and go to a family wedding 100 miles away. It will be a bit hectic and I am not sure I will have any time to post anything here on Saturday.

I am really excited about this opportunity, and can’t wait for you to see it, too. Besides, you’ve seen pictures of me, but you haven’t seen me live or even heard my voice (except for a few here who know me.)