I was truly honored when friend Sophie asked me to contribute a piece to her new website! The secret is that I am an ordinary person living an extraordinary life. I am a mother, wife (married for 15 years), daughter, employee, and friend. Despite my ordinary roles, I have the potential to be amazing. I know this because I create that potential. I have come to terms with my identities in all my roles, dismantled all the ‘rackets’ (preconceived stereotypes) associated with them, and have created a transformation for myself to achieve my goals. Sounds like something from Star Wars? It’s all quite simple in fact. I am a working mother of two, who makes time for a fitness life – which is critical to my happiness – and am celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary this July. My identities are interconnected! It has taken me years to reach this level of high self-esteem and self-confidence; and it began after taking a course in 2002 with Landmark Education (yes the lessons learned still live strong in 2013!). I’ve also recently read similar lessons in Don Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements and I want to share with you some of my favorite lessons learned, because you too, have the possibility to live an extraordinary life.
Regardless of where you are on the journey, the relationship you have with your ‘self’ is the absolute most important. Speak with integrity (Ruiz). Before we can relate to others, we must be honest with ourselves. Ask yourself, what do you truly value? What brings joy to your life? What gives you meaning? What gets you out of bed in the morning? Take your honest word with you and expect it in return. Have a running date with a friend? Don’t break it. Want to add more kale to your diet? Do it; do not lie to your self. Be authentic (Landmark).
As health-conscious women, we have a lot of variables in our lives that sometimes impact our fitness and nutrition goals. Perhaps you are married to someone who doesn’t share your vision of wellness and healthy eating. Some of you may be new to fitness in general, trying something new, or are returning to exercise and are searching for your mojo. Perhaps you are a new mom and are looking for ways to maintain your identity. We all can relate! We tend to procrastinate, create ‘stories’ or excuses of why we cannot meet our goals. “I couldn’t get a workout in because of X”, or “I have little reason to work hard and get that promotion because they already said there is no room for growth”. This unproductive way of being leads us nowhere, so don’t let anyone (including you) tell you what you cannot do. Those are stories we create in our heads to make excuses. Remember, be authentic!
Be ridiculous, even ‘un’reasonable! This is one of my life mottos, and I first practiced this in 2002 after the Landmark Forum. I was five months pregnant and having sat in the classroom for 8 hours straight I decided to ‘be ridiculous’ and walk home, which was 5 miles along the beautiful Lakeshore Drive. It was hot, I was pregnant and unprepared. It took hours with pit-stops, but I made it. Lesson learned: you don’t always need to be prepared (we tend to overthink things); how would I know if I could do that walk 5 months pregnant, unless I did it? I continued to be ridiculous throughout my life, resumed running and signed up for my first half marathon in 2010 (longest run had only been 6 miles!). I just knew that the only thing that would hold me back from finishing that race was my own self. If I had confidence in myself, then it was all that mattered. I’ve run four more since then and absolutely love creating new challenges for myself every year (vision board!). We need to turn off our inner critic more often, live an authentic life and be ridiculous!
Always do your best. As long as you do your best in whatever you do in life, others cannot judge you, nor can you judge yourself for doing your best. We fall victim to our inner critic and start to doubt our abilities and compare ourselves to others. Only you can judge you!
How will you live an authentic life and be ridiculous?
Ayesha Akhtar, MPH works part-time as a community educator for the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Chicago and is a co-founder of HEART Women & Girls, a young nonprofit dedicated to empowering young girls and women. She is also a blogger for The Skinless Project. She is passionate about women’s health and fitness. She plans to be ridiculous and run her fastest half-marathon, complete a triathlon and run a marathon for charity before her 40th birthday!
After my first half marathon, October 2010.
Follow mymusings on twitter: @runAyesharun