Written by Andrea Maxim, Naturopathic Doctor
"Our limitations and success will be based, most often, on your own expectations for ourselves. What the mind dwells upone, the body acts upon." –– Denis Waitley
I have just had an incredibly humbling experience.
The first part of my ride started like any other. Small hills here and there but mostly flat road. We went for a nice 50km flat ride yesterday unscathed so today we decided to challenge ourselves with an 80km ride. Now this 80km ride includes a 500m climb that takes about 8km to complete then it’s all flat and downhill from there.
On paper and to a beginner-intermediate rider, this look totally achievable. I mean, once you reach the top it appears to be relatively easy to complete the route (Click here to see the route). Now riding the route was a completely different experience.
Small climbs turned into bigger climbs. The pitch of these hills were getting steeper. The beautiful scenery should have made the effort worth it, but when it’s you against the pavement and the only way to reach the precipice is to rip your quads to shreds (at least that’s what it felt like), the scenery soon becomes invisible.
Doubt starts to seep in. All I could focus on were my legs and how weak I started to feel. After the 5th small climb I had to pull over and take a break. Other cyclists kept right on going, making the climb look easy, and I started to feel like I was failing. To me, every hill was taking away more and more of my confidence and I could feel myself losing my drive to go on.
I looked up only to be confronted with another hill. Ok, this has to be the last one, I can do this! I pushed myself forward, giving it all I had, only to be confronted with an even taller, steeper hill. In my head I thought, all I need to do is finish this next climb and everything will be ok. Everyone else appears to be able to do it and so can I.
I struggled and made it to what I can only assume was the base of the last part of the 500m climb. I looked up at the next 50m and just broke down in tears. Literally sobbing. It was steep, it came to a bend and I still did not know if it was the last hurdle before this torture would stop. The tears would not stop flowing and all I could think of was, “What a Failure You Are! Your partner is capable. All these other cyclists are obviously capable. Why cant you do this?”
Learning my Limitations
Then my cycling partner came to my side and said, “It takes a strong person to push themselves, but it takes an even stronger person to admit to their limitations.” With a heavy heart we turned around to begin our descent. I took one final look at that climb and thought, this will be a lesson I will carry with me forever.
This is a perfect metaphor for what we all go through when faced with change and adversity. When I give my patients a protocol that requires significant changes to their lifestyle, I understand that it is not easy and like those hills, our journey towards health has a lot of flat easy roads but also some really difficult climbs we must overcome in order to better ourselves.
My goal today was to ride 80km. We rode 30km instead. I can continue to beat myself up. I can throw my bicycle away. I can vow to never ride again. Instead, I chose to remember that the route will always be there for me when I’m ready for it. When I’ve trained. When I’m mentally and physically stronger. I will be back and I will make it to the top.
Lesson from Knowing Your Limitations
This is a lesson I want all of my patients and future patients to understand. I am not going to push you anywhere you are not ready to go. I will put you through small training sessions and start you on easier climbs before forcing the harder ones. By not completing my route today, does not mean I am forever a failure as a cyclist, it just meant that today, I was not ready. But I will not stop trying to better myself. I will not stop trying to be the example I wish for my patients. I will push myself to be better, and it may not happen as quickly as I would like it to, but I must keep the mind set that I will persevere.
You will be better
You will make that climb
You will persevere
And I will be there every step of the way for you
Andrea Maxim, ND – Creator of the MAXIM MOVEMENT