Jonathan called me this week and asked if he could drop by. He had something he wanted to show me.
I don’t know Jonathan, we have never met so I was somewhat surprised by his request and, being naturally curious, of course I invited him over.
He arrived at my office some two hours later, proceeded to boot up his laptop and told me he wanted to show me a video.
The person who appeared in the video looked somewhat like Jonathan albeit a much larger and clumsier version.
The man sitting across from me was lean and athletic looking. It took a moment to realize the person in the video and the man sitting across from me was one and the same.
The video lasted about 20 minutes during which time I witnessed Jonathan transforming from a stiff, awkward, inflexible, overweight, out of shape being into the lithe, agile, confident, slim and athletic person sitting across from me.
He explained that the reason he wanted to contact me and show me the video was because last week’s blog on The Habit of Working At It was his story and he thought I might like to share it with you, my readers.
Jonathan is 58 years old and had spent his 55th birthday in an emergency room having been brought there by crippling chest pain.
He was lucky. His worst fears were not realized and he was sent home but not before “the 12-year-old doctor told me to smarten up.
Jonathan went home and took stock. At 5’7”, he weighed in at 287 pounds. Tying his shoelaces quite often left him breathless and walking the three flights of stairs to his office was out of the question.
He knew he had to do something but didn’t know where to start. The thought of going to a gym and showing the world how truly overweight and out of shape he was, was too humiliating to even contemplate so he settled on ordering a set of exercise DVDs from an infomercial.
Two weeks later when his shipment arrived, he excitedly inserted the first DVD and, less than two minutes later, found himself sitting on his couch barely able to catch his breath and feeling his heart pounding in his chest.
To say he was discouraged would be an understatement. He remembers reaching for the remote to eject the DVD from the player when “little voice in my head reminded me that this is what I have always done – quit when things get tough.”
He waited some 10 minutes and tried again. Same result – within two minutes he was on the couch gasping for air, chest pounding.
In that moment he made a promise to himself to keep trying and keep pushing no matter how long it took or how difficult it was. He swore to adopt The Habit of Working At It.
And boy did he ever.
He described the first two weeks as being everything he understood Hell to be. He quickly realized that it would take him quite a while to complete an entire workout but that he was slowly able to “stick with the program” for a teeny bit longer each day.
And so he did. And during this first two weeks he increased the amount of time before breathlessness overtook him from about two minutes to four.
He also realized that as his entire workout was over in four minutes, he could do this multiple times a day. And so he began doing four minute workouts four or five times per day and those four minutes became five minutes, then six minutes, then seven.
As well as his video, Jonathan kept a journal of his progress. He wanted written evidence that The Habit of Working At It was really working for him, so he recorded his daily activities and proudly highlighted each improvement.
His weight dropped by 30 pounds in the first three months and, on the advice of a friend he decided to add a yoga to his routine.
He told me the first few classes were beyond embarrassing. He was unable to make more than a cursory attempt at many of the stretches but was determined to work at it, for as long as it took.
On the day of his 56th birthday he stepped on a scale and proudly recorded the number 198 in his journal. In one year he had lost 89 pounds and he could reach forward and place his hands on the floor – something he had last done as a teenager – and could not remember how long it had been since last he had woken with a stiff back and pain in his legs.
As thrilled as he was with his progress, Jonathan was not satisfied. He recommitted to The Habit of Working At It and six months later, having reached his goal weight of 170 pounds he completed a certification to become a yoga instructor.
He was also working on an online certification program to become a personal trainer. Jonathan has a successful accounting practice and has no intention of changing careers, he is simply doing this to increase his knowledge and to be of help to “all my fat, old, tired, middle-aged friends.”
Jonathan is a huge believer in The Habit of Working At It. He knows firsthand that progress is slow and incremental but he also knows that quitting leads to spending birthdays in emergency rooms.
Jonathan asked me to tell his story this week, but also to change his name. He’s not looking for recognition but to sell a message that says if we just keep working at something and relish in every small gain, we will eventually get to wherever we want to be.
The Habit of Working At It – Jonathan swears that it saved his life.
Meeting him and watching his video confirmed for me just how essential this habit is.
Let’s make a habit of meeting like this.
P.S. My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
My company, Strategic Pathways, recently introduced our newest Personal Coaching experience called Boot Camp for Your Brain. Please click here and take a peek at our Ebrochure.