Don’t Give Up! It’s your decision!

determination, decision

When I was at the Australian Defence Force Academy a number of years ago, we had to do a fitness test twice a year. It was always quite challenging but exhilarating once you had passed. In my second year, they introduced a new challenge – an overhand arm hang from a heave beam. Now, if that means nothing to you, you are not alone. Just know that it involved hanging with your hands baby kangaroo style over a large beam not designed for women’s hands! If it had been under-hand, it would have been easy (well, easier). But over-hand called upon the tiny muscles in my arms that don’t get much exercise. Any woman with hips was going to find it a challenge. At the first test, most of the girls in my class failed. Only the super light, muscular types survived the 21 seconds you had to remain up there. You needed a very light power to weight ratio and to engage parts of your arms that just weren’t meant to hold you up for any period of time.

The heartbreak…

For someone like me who had consistently achieved credits in the fitness test, this was heart breaking. Even more so was the requirement to turn up to Extra PT every morning from 5.30am. This session was grueling and nicknamed “Sluggies”. In true military fashion (I’m sure they don’t do this anymore), they applied the same principle to every person there – to pass your test, you need to run more. Then run some more. So, while my run time improved beyond anything I could have dreamed of, my arm hang time stayed the same. Day after day, we ran around the oval at 5.30am. Weekend after weekend, we would attempt the test again with no improvements. I once made 19 seconds (although I think the assessor was being very kind – my chin was heading south of the bar at about the 14 second mark), and I spent the next week berating myself for not hanging on for another 2 seconds. The following week I only made 15 seconds. It was soul destroying. I even began thinking of myself as a “slug” rather than a fit and healthy person.

The decision…

Then, one week, a few people passed! There were cheers and tears as we farewelled our fellow Sluggies from what had become a close group, bonded in our 5.30am misery. It was a celebration for some, a reminder for others we had still failed. But, something magical had happened. We had seen the possibility of passing. We had seen what it looked like, we had heard (and participated in) the celebrations, we had felt what it would be like to be free of this burden. I decided I would pass the following week. I practised as I had every week before. This time, I told myself that if others could do it, so could I. I already had blisters on my hands from all the practice in the past few months, but this time was different. I was practising to pass. I had DECIDED to pass.

The following test, I didn’t just pass, I stayed there for 35 seconds. 35 seconds!! And it was easy. Relief and joy washed over me. I had done it!

The real learning for me in this experience was that at the very beginning I had given up. I was turning up to Sluggies at 5.30am every day and going through the physical motions, but in my mind, I had decided I wasn’t going to pass. I had accepted this new reality as my own.

The moment I saw another possibility – the possibility of passing – I questioned it and made a new decision. A decision to do something different. The power is in my hands. The power to make a choice. The power to define the rules.

Since then, health has been one of my top values.

What new decisions will you make today that could change your reality? Share below in the comments or with your favourite social media button!