How Life Works

Tonight’s blog is a heavy topic, and very personal. However, I share it with an intended message that I hope you receive well.

A common question I get asked is how did I get into fitness and coaching. A legit and obvious question clients would ask me, right?

I have been active all my life. Being the youngest of four kids, I followed in my older siblings’ footsteps. Swimming, soccer, volleyball, ballet, basketball, and anything in between. In college, I gained the Freshman 15 (plus another 30). Then, I found triathlons, which became my new obsession. Around this time in my very young adulthood, my father was diagnosed with Diabetes Type II. He had always been overweight in my childhood. He was raised on milk, sourdough bread, lots of salt, pizza, chips, soda pop, meat and potatoes.

Over the years, I watched my father go through health issue after health issue after health issue, and all the while, my mother and sister desperately trying to save him. They meal prepped for him, portion-sized for him, took him on walks, checked his blood sugar, got his meds, and were basically at-home nurses. And yet, surprise, surprise, here we are in 2019, and my father still has Type II. A disease that can be cured with proper nutrition and a healthy lifestyle.

Early on in this journey, I was mad at my father for not taking ownership and changing. It made me go into a hyperactive level of fitness. I became overly obsessed, and in hindsight, I realize I was overcompensating for my father, and projecting my hurt feelings and fears.

Then, I found CrossFit in 2009, and was all in. When I became a coach and we opened our own gym in 2011, I was on a mission to save the world.  If I couldn’t save my father, I was bound and determined to save everyone else.

Then… One day, my brother came home to my parent’s house and we learned a devastating reality he had been secretly living for years. My brother is an alcoholic. His long-term girlfriend finally had enough and kicked him out, so he found himself at our parent’s footsteps with nothing.

And again, here we are in 2019, and my brother is still an alcoholic living in my parent’s house. It set me into warp-speed overdrive. Not only can I not save my father, but I can’t save my brother. Double whammy.

This must be how Batman felt in the “Dark Knight” when he failed to save Rachel Dawes.

I coached so hard, and I preached even harder. The problem was, I was too self-righteous and blinded by my own pain for my father and brother, and I was using my clients as compensation tools.

I was too much.

So, here we are, again in 2019, and my father and brother are still exactly where they were 10, 15 years ago, but I am very different. I no longer chase my clients and try to force change. I no longer hold their hand and do it for them. I no longer over-train and stress over my nutrition. And, I no longer carry the burden of my father and brother anymore.

We only change when we want to. When we have to. When we’re ready to do the dirty work. When it’s more important to us than all of our excuses and bullsh** stories. Unfortunately, not everyone reaches that point.

The other thing is, nothing is guaranteed. How ironic would it be if both my father and brother outlived me, and I died suddenly of a heart attack?! It could very well happen, despite my good health and fitness.

It took my father and brother for me to learn the simple, but hard truth –

You can’t save anyone. And, no one can save you. You have to save yourself.

It has to be an inside job. Your mom, your BFF, your husband, your doctor, your coach, and even your assistant can only take you so far. You have to carry yourself the rest of the way.

“If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for life.” There is another crucial part to this quote, though. The man has to WANT to fish and do it for himself in order to live. My father and brother are not picking up the fishing poles, and I can’t force them to.

It was a difficult process for me to learn to accept this. Just because I wanted my father to eat healthy and exercise, doesn’t mean he wants to, nor that he has to. I’ve had to learn to be able to just sit on the dock with my father and enjoy his company, despite his lack of “fishing.” I am still working on being able to sit on the dock with my brother.

My heavy heart shares this to let you know – Life only works if YOU do!

Cast away, my friends.

And, when you get the choice to sit it out or dance… I hope you dance!

Kara PurvesComment