Yesterday I posted about being on Autopilot. Being on autopilot doesn’t mean that I am not thinking about the choices I make. It’s just that there’s a lot less that I need to be mindful about because certain habits are already in place.

This time around, it’s been quite a relief because the week leading up to this Whole Life Challenge was very stressful for me. Knowing that I didn’t have to spend too much time thinking of my grocery list/menu for the week left me free to ‘be mindful’ about other things.

I’ve had lots of things going on recently, but primary, my brother’s recent diagnosis of cancer was weighing heavy on my mind and on my heart. I was distracted, worried, and sad. At the same time, I was focusing on staying positive for him and remembering to take things one day at a time — and of course thinking a lot about how precious health is. Thankfully, he’s responded to his first round of chemotherapy well, and his positive, cheerful attitude has been beyond admirable.

In addition to thinking about my brother, I was also quite preoccupied with my first Jiu-Jitsu teaching experience. Being a teacher for the past 15 years means that I am no stranger to standing up in front of a group of people. That doesn’t mean that I’m not self-conscious or that I don’t get nervous. Getting ready for my first lesson really had me thinking about so many things beyond the actual moves. It truly was a test of mind over matter. I wrote about it more in another blog post.

Now, I’m getting ready for my trip to Los Angeles for 2 weeks of Jiu-Jitsu training plus my final evaluations for the Instructor Certification Program at the Gracie Academy.

Moving forward in this path – where I am going to be doing something physical, standing in front of a group of people and instructing them in a martial art – has been weighing heavily on my mind. I’m not having doubts. Rather, the reality of this new path is finally starting to hit me. I’ve done certifications before (Zumba instructor, personal trainer, fitness nutritionist — all of which were inspired by the Whole Life Challenge), but this is different. I’m investing (emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially) in  a new lifestyle. What I want out of this experience is not just about Jiu-Jitsu moves — it’s about so much more. It’s about the self-confidence you develop from knowing you can defend yourself; it’s about the empowerment you feel knowing that nobody can pick on you; it’s about the responsibility you have to take care of your health so that you can perform to the best of your ability; it’s about being a role model for everyone coming to train. It’s about believing in yourself.

It’s a lot — it’s overwhelming, scary, and very, very exciting!

The one noticeable difference I have seen is that instead of stressing and obsessing over everything that is going on, I’m taking it all in stride. I’m so much calmer than I’ve ever been before. This attitude is actually something that I learned by both losing weight and doing this challenge.

In the beginning there’s so much work to do. There’s so much to think about and organize … but then, as each day goes by and you see that you’re making progress, that you’re accomplishing things you didn’t think you could do, your confidence grows … and you begin to realize that yes, you can do it! This glimmer of hope, optimism, and happiness that emerges from pushing through those difficult times is what makes you stronger. The hard work, while still challenging, does become easier to confront and address. You start to become mentally stronger, and that’s what pushes you through the difficult times. As for those days when it just seems like it’s all too much and you need a break — don’t overwhelm yourself with negativity. Take a break. Step away. Breathe. Refocus. Then get back to it!