Control The Controllables

Two years ago, as I was prepared for the Beach to Battleship Ironman, I started talking to my daughter about all the things that could go wrong. The weather might be horrible, I might get a flat, or my knee that had been bothering me throughout training might finally give out. The list was a mile long. Finally, my daughter stopped me and reminded me that the best I could do was to control the controllables.

Yesterday, as I was running it finally occurred to me that this is a lesson I have not followed very well over the past year. Instead of controlling the things I truly can control, I have been focusing on events that I have no control over and in the process I have let go of the areas of my life that I can control. Instead of focusing on my health and fitness as I have for 22 years, I tried to control my daughter’s recovery and the way my family reacted to it.

One of the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle is the routine it gives us, the chance to truly take control over our lives. In general, I am not a very detail oriented person but being able to focus on the details can bring a sense of calm to our lives, even in the craziest of times.

This morning, after steeling myself for what I knew would be very bad news indeed, I stepped on the scales for the first time in almost three months. I was not disappointed. The scale said pretty much what I had seen in the mirror. I am heavier than I have been in 22 years.

I had braced myself for this news, thinking that it might leave me so gutted that I could not move forward. Instead, it gave me the push I needed. It was almost cheering. If this is how much I weigh now when I am prepared to start working again, then I will be able to see progress in the next few weeks and months.

I immediately opened the Diet Tracker app on my computer and logged my weight. Then I logged my breakfast. Finally I had something concrete, not just that horrible, mean little voice in my head telling me I am fat. With numbers I have something I can control. With the right tools I can track my nutrition, making sure that I keep my calories within range while also managing the key nutrients that keep me strong, keeping my health as well as my waistline in check.

I cannot make my daughter better. I can make sure she has the best care possible, that she has the tools she needs to get better, but I am not in control of her recovery. However, I can control my health. I can take control of my nutrition and my fitness routine. I can control the controllables.