Keep Your Eyes OFF the Prize

By , SparkPeople Blogger
If Cincinnati is known for anything (especially among its many runners and cyclists), it is known for its hills. You can't run, bike, hike or even walk very far in this city without encountering multiple inclines, some of which are very steep! That is partly what makes our Flying Pig Marathon so notorious! When I run outside or hit the road on my bike, there is no avoiding the hills. And while many exercisers despise hills, I've come to accept them—even appreciate them. And no, I'm not a masochist.
On my many long runs these past few months (I will be running the Flying Pig half marathon this Sunday), I've climbed a lot of hills and had a lot of time to think about each one.  I've realized that we all have our own hills—in running, in weight loss and in life. Whether a hill slows us down or holds us back has less to do with its actual physicality (or our own) and much more to do with our outlook as we approach it.
Each time I reach the foot of another steep hill, I look forward, not up. When I look for the top it's far too easy to feel deflated. That end goal looks so far away and so difficult to reach! I tend to lose momentum and often get side-tracked with negative thoughts about how hard it's going to be. But when I keep my eyes directly forward, watching the ground just a few feet in front of me, it's amazing how my attitude changes. From that view, I can't tell how long or how steep a climb is. In fact, I can hardly even tell I'm going uphill at all. When I look forward instead of up, I maintain speed (and a much sunnier disposition), and I reach the top of the incline almost effortlessly. Only then do I look back and see how far I've really come. And remember: The view from the top is much better than the view from the bottom!
While each hill we encounter may feel like a roadblock, it's not. It's a challenge that, while perhaps long or hard, will eventually come to an end. If you keep moving forward, you will always reach the top. If you keep going from there, you will feel wind and gravity carrying you with speed and ease to the bottom. And once you're on a flat again, you appreciate it that much more. You harness that momentum from the downhill and keep pushing forward.

Eyes forward, I approach a hill like I would any other goal: one step at a time. Your goal may be big: to lose 100 pounds, to run a marathon, to pay down a large debt. If you only look at the end goal (the summit) from where you are now (the foot), it's easy to feel discouraged. But when you break it into smaller steps and keep your eyes focused on what you can do right now in this moment, the top doesn't matter anymore. All that matters is the next step you take.
Trust me, no one sets out to run a marathon thinking, "I am 26.2 miles from the finish line!" They take it one step and one mile at a time. And if you plan to lose 50 or 100 pounds—or whatever you goal—the worst thing you can do is focus on how far away that end goal is.
Break it down:

One step.
One minute.
One mile.
One workout.
One choice.
One bite.
One meal.
One hour.
One day.
One week.
One pound.
As long as you're moving forward, you will eventually reach the top.
Sometimes getting there will be labored, long and challenging. But it is the nature of any hill or challenge to make us stronger in body and in spirit. Every hill I ascend makes me appreciate the descents and the flats that much more. Hill training makes you stronger and faster when hills aren't present because everything else feels so much easier. Each incline I climb gives me a chance to push through a challenging situation (one that—let's be honest—I'd rather avoid) and build not just leg strength, but character as well. It makes you proud. It makes you realize that if you can do this, there is no limit to what else you can achieve.
Bring on the hills.

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KITTYHAWK1949 8/5/2019
One pound at a time by eating less and exercising more. Any exercise from where I started is more but as I have continued on this journey, I have continued to move more. Love it. Report
MAGICAL13 7/20/2019
So so true... Report
KHALIA2 7/15/2019
Great article! Report
I'm taking the list of "Ones" and putting it on my fridge. Thank you! Report
KHALIA2 3/3/2019
Great article! Thank you! Report
KATHYJO56 1/12/2019
I totally agree with this Report
CJC2550 12/30/2018
Inspirational! I am going to copy the one minute, etc and put it on my desk as a reminder. Thanks Report
KHALIA2 11/30/2018
Thanks! Report
DJ4HEALTH 10/30/2018
thanks Report
A good motivating article. Report
Thanks for the helpful article! :) Report
thanks Report
I also have a lot of steep hills in my neighborhood which I love to walk up and down. Report
Positive perspective. Awesome read. Report
One step at a time. That is what I have to remember. Report
Your article makes a lot of sense, Coach Nicole! Thanks! Report
Great article, one step at a time. Report
Great article Report
Great motivation article! Report
Great article. Report
Lots of hills in Seattle, too. Good points. Report
Great reminder to take baby steps Report
Love the article. Thank you. Report
Thank you, Nicole. Personally, this is my first time ever reading this "Break it down" idea and I think it will be most helpful, if I can remember to alway keep it in mind. Much appreciated! Report
Not mentioning anyone personally, but snarky comments aren't helpful to anyone; so kindly keep them to yourself and maybe try to focus on *positive* reinforcement...please? Thank you! Report
Wow... this article came right on time for me. I still have about 65 pounds to lose and I keep looking at the end goal. Thanks for the reminder to take it one step at a time, one workout at a time, one meal at a time. Very helpful! Report
You are fortunate to live in an area with lots of hills as you can add challenge and interest to your hikes or runs and vary them more easily. I love visiting my sister-in-law in Portland OR as we can walk the hilly neighborhoods and get an excellent heart-pumping workout so much more easily than in our flat central WI. Report
Thank you!!! So needed this!! Report
I'm so glad I read this today. I live in Pittsburgh, and there are a lot of hills so I can totally relate to what you're saying. I need to stop focusing on the end result, and be in the present moment--look straight ahead. Thank you! Report
Excellent. I love the breakdown and I intend to use it. Well said. Report
LOVE this! Saving it to reread when discoyragement threatens to creep back in. Report
Great blog Nicole! Thanks u r AMAZING! Report
I really needed to read this today, thanks for posting Report
Thank you so much. That is very inspiring. Report
Thanks so much! This is a very helpful analogy. Report
Nice reminder.... Report
i tell people this all the time take it step by step Report
Thanks for a very inspirational blog. You said it so directly that it is easy to understand. I love that we need to Break it down:

One step.
One minute.
One mile.
One workout.
One choice.
One bite.
One meal.
One hour.
One day.
One week.
One pound.

That makes our goals so much easier to do. Report
Thank you, Nicole!
This blog is going in my "Treasure Box" where I'm gathering my favorite blogs, tips, articles, recipes, uplifting quotes, etc. I reach into this virtual box whenever I am discouraged.

Oh, and the part of your blog that reads...

"Break it down:

One step.
One minute.
One mile.
One workout.
One choice.
One bite.
One meal.
One hour.
One day.
One week.
One pound.

As long as you're moving forward, you will eventually reach the top."

Well, I'm going to make that into a motivational poster with your name on it.

Thanks again! Report
Very helpful ideas on how to stay motivated! Thanks. Report
Loved this blog. I always look at weight loss two pounds at a time. If I look at the "big" number I get overwhelmed but two pounds at a time is very attainable.

Love this article, thanks! Its inspired me to reset my weight tracker, and to run more hills! Report
One step at a time to conquer anything is the sure fire way to accomplish goals and not stress about them. Report
Super analogy, and congrats on your run! Report
Thank you this can help! Report
A seriously awesome blog. One of the best I have ever read on SparkPeople. Thanks so much! Report
This echoes a favorite motivational saying I have:

The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time! Report
I totally needed to read this today! Thanks for the inspiration and motivation. Bring on the hills! Report
Bring on the hills! What a great thought, Coach Nicole! Thanks for your inspiring words! Report