Welcome to Week 4 of our Transform You 2020 series, where we’re diving into how the environment and community around you can shape your beliefs and your future. (Click here if you missed the final post in Week 3. And click here to find the second installment on the topic of environment/community.)
This story is from a few years ago, but it still stands out for me as a vivid example of how the community around you impacts your perspective on things.
A few years ago, I climbed Longs Peak, a 14,250 plus mountain in Colorado. The 15 mile, 5,500 vertical feet climb is listed as a 12-14 hour round trip. I had just gotten off the plane and had not yet acclimated to the altitude, which made for an even more challenging hike.
I got up at 2 AM and started the journey with headlamps on.
Past the 13,000 foot mark, the wind was blowing in excess of 30 mph and the 1-2 foot ledges with 700 foot sheer cliffs below became very scary. Thankfully, I made it up in 5 hours but was overcome with altitude sickness at the top and had to descend after spending only one minute at the top.
Once I descended past the treacherous parts, I had a 5 mile run downhill. My total time was 8 hours. Not bad considering that this was prior to my Ironman journey, so I didn’t run or do tons of cardio at the time.
Why do I share this story with you?
Depending on what your experience is, depending on your peer group, depending on your circle of influence, you might look at what I did and say one of three things.
- You are crazy, I could never or would never want to do that.
- That sounds cool, I would love to have the opportunity to do that!
- Yeah, that’s an awesome hike. You should come join us–we’re going to attempt to climb 10 14ers (14,000 ft mountains) in 24 hours!
(Side note, check out https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=18686 for an amazing trip report from a Michigan guy who climbed 10 of Colorado’s 14ers in a day!)
I will make some generalizations here but this is what the thinking of these three types of people might look like…
The first group probably has never hiked, hasn’t exercised very intensely for many years, and has low confidence in their ability to get in shape. They don’t know anyone personally who does activities like this and so they just don’t understand.
The second group is most likely quite active, they have achieved many of their fitness goals throughout the years, and have had experience pushing their bodies past levels of comfort. They have friends who go on active adventures and are looking for new ways to push themselves. I would put all of my clients who have been with my program for at least a year in this category.
The final group would be long-distance hikers and climbers who have access to mountains on a regular basis. They are part of hiking clubs or groups and they read and study about hiking. They are endurance athletes that surround themselves with friends who are also high level athletes. For them, my climb up Longs Peak was just child’s play. They have moved on to bigger and more challenging things.
I am using hiking as an example here, but this type of thinking can play out in any area of your life, fitness or otherwise. What your peer group considers “norm” is generally what your norm will be, as well.
This is what really scares me about our world today. Society’s “norm” is now to be 30 lbs overweight, to sit most of the day, to use food to celebrate almost everything, and to eat and drink to numb the pain and conflict life can bring.
It is no wonder our world has so much sickness, disease and depression.
I want to leave you with one final story. I had just run/walked the final 5 miles of my Longs Peak journey. The feeling I had at the bottom was of pure exhaustion and joy.
Right at the end, I finished with a guy who I saw on the way up. I started chatting with him. He was a physical specimen of peak fitness. I discovered he lives in Boulder, about 36 miles away.
He left his house at 2 AM, BIKED 36 miles, ran/walked Long’s Peak in 5:15 (almost 3 hours faster than me), and was getting ready to bike back to Boulder.
In shock, I told him he was crazy and that I was incredibly impressed and inspired.
He smiled and said, “it’s not crazy when everyone else you know does it too.”
He was right. His peer group does things like that on a regular basis and what I considered crazy, unbelievable, and incredible at the time, is just an ordinary day to this guy and his peer group.
Now that I am deeply involved in triathlon and endurance sports, my peer group has evolved. I’m now around people who exercise 2x/day and for whom a 20 mile run or a 100 mile bike ride is no big deal. It’s shifted my view of what’s normal yet again.
So the question is, what does your peer group look like?
What do they do on a regular basis?
Are they healthy?
Are they positive?
Are they happy?
If the answer to these questions is no, and you want to be active, healthy, positive, and happy, I would like to challenge you to start to shift your peer group. This doesn’t need to happen overnight, but a shift in peer groups will be necessary if you want to live the life of your dreams.
Your peer group—the community that you surround yourself with—is my fourth pillar of success. It will make a huge difference in your ability to make and stick with changes in your life.
Throughout the years I have received hundreds of emails and messages from people who feel alone and isolated. They don’t have the support they want and need to live the healthy, happy lives they deserve. They don’t have a peer group that is inspired to make each day as healthy, and positive as possible.
That is why the Transformation Center team works tirelessly to find creative ways to build communities that support each other and keep each other accountable, motivated and inspired. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible to live a happy, healthy life.
If you are local to Madison, WI, we encourage you to come and check us out. If not, find a group or a place in your area that embodies the values and traits that you want in your life and join them.
You have two choices, you can continue to do what you have been already doing and expect to get the same results, or you can take a leap of faith and try something new. That leap of faith might just change the trajectory of your life.
It is your choice to make.
We are committed to supporting you when you are ready to take that leap.