THIS TIME LAST year I had huge plans for 2013. I was going to be the fittest I had ever been. I had just returned from Uganda with Concern, where I had climbed a volcano and cycled hundreds of kilometres across rough country to kayak a white-water rapid on the Nile. I was invincible and I was going to build on my fitness and be as good as I could be.
Counting down the seconds on New Year’s Eve – I watched fire-works exploding somewhere over the Liffey. I turned my head to look through the taxi window to get a better view as we sped along the road towards Connolly Hospital. The driver looked back with concern as I groaned; clutching my side and trying to breathe through the pain of the kidney stone would soon have me under the knife and on the flat of my back for the next three weeks. So much for taking on the world.
The New Year did not start the way I had expected. I ended up in hospital twice with gut-related issues, which were probably related to the previous decade when I was morbidly obese and carrying 23 stone. I have no doubt that losing 13 stone in 2010 has extended my lifespan dramatically, but the doctors tell me that my body still has some adjusting to do. That’s ok, I can adjust.
Remember what you have achieved
So what about 2014 and what about resolutions for the year ahead? I certainly have more weight to lose and more fitness to achieve. I also have professional challenges as I go out on my own after a quarter of a century with 98FM radio. Two years shy of 50; I’m taking the plunge and setting up my own business as a Broadcast and Media Trainer and Motivational Coach.
I’m also looking forward to some brand new adventures, encouraging others to travel with me to the world’s most amazing places. I’ll be working with Travel Department as a motivational guide on their walking holidays in Spain next October. I will also have a massive adventure during the summer when I join Irish adventurer Pat Falvey on an expedition to climb Mount Elbrus in Russia. It’s one of the world’s Seven Summits – the highest mountains of each of the seven continents. We may also be joined by Pemba Gyalje Sherpa from ‘The Summit’ the film and book about K2’s deadliest day.
But back to resolutions – do they motivate and encourage us? Or set us up for failure and regret? I was feeling a bit gun-shy about making resolutions after the dramatic way my plans backfired last year. Then a friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook.
“Well, 2013 really was your year!! Fill the details and see how much you’ve achieved. Climbed Spinc Mountain x no of times, climbed carringthingy x no of times. Cycled tandem from LauraLynn to Leixlip with the lovely Kipper Maguire. Kayaked the Liffey Descent, raising €10,000 for LauraLynn. Walked 1k Santa Saunter and did the RNLI warm up for a thousand runners. Ran WAR in Wicklow and the Killarney Adventure Race. Swam in the sea without a wetsuit x no of times. Signed up to climb Mt Elbrus in 2014. Mountain biked x no of times. Set up new business. Gave x no of motivational talks. Presented the Get Off The Couch TV programme. Reconnected with an old lost school pal, went skiing in the Alps on a ‘blind’ date. Got John Compton to sit on your knee…”
Now with friends like that, it’s no wonder a girl feels good looking forward to the future. Reading her list, I giggled with memories of achievements made and new friendships formed and the pure fun and energy of being alive. Waking up in the morning is such a priceless gift – that spark of living, of being alive, that energy that makes all things possible. How wonderfully privileged we are; how incredibly powerful we can be. Nothing is impossible when you enjoy the gift of being alive.
My friend’s timely list dropped at just the right moment when I was feeling a little sad perhaps, and feeling that I’d let myself down on last year’s resolution to be the fittest I ever was. I may have failed to deliver on that, but look at all the fun I had trying.
Balancing dreams and realistic expectations
I suppose it’s the balance between having a dream and having realistic expectations. The book I wrote after losing all that weight and making it to Base Camp Mount Everest is called “One Foot In Front Of The Other”. It explains how I got there in my mind, and how my body followed.
Thinking of going to Everest as a lady weighing 23 stone probably wasn’t a realistic expectation, but it was a dream. Losing weight was possible, walking to the gym was possible, walking a hill in Wicklow was possible and climbing Carrauntoohil was eventually possible. After a while, the dream became less of a dream and more of a realistic expectation, and then the dream became a reality. I think it’s about dreaming big, having a plan, and taking small steps all the way to the top. I think we all have our own mountain to climb and I truly believe every one of us has what we need inside us to succeed on our journey.
So what am I promising for 2014? Yes, it’s a promise I’m making to the universe and to me. Not a resolution, but a present, a promise, a gift. I will love my life, I will hug my family and my friends, and I will be the best that I can be.
I wish a happy Christmas to you and yours, and a very happy and healthy New Year.
Teena Gates Broadcast and Media Trainer and Motivational coach offers targeted training in journalism, broadcasting, presentation skills, public speaking and social media