I came in dead last in the first triathlon that I ever completed.

It was 100 degrees and oppressively humid that July day in Richmond VA. I had such severe dehydration and heat stroke that I ended up hospitalized.

But, I finished.

When we pursue something with a “terrifying longing” we can block out just about any sort of pain or distraction to accomplish that objective.

I remember stumbling across the finish line, literally hours after the leaders had finished. The event MC was winding down the whole event as I shuffled across, delirious and dragging my horribly contorted and cramped up legs those final meters. It took every last grain of grit left in me.

In surprise, he interrupted his recognition of the event sponsors and, noticing me, called out, “Oh my God, we’ve got another finisher!!!” He came trotting over to me with his mic saying “Congratulations! You made it! You are our final finisher of the day! What’s your name?”

Mortified and hallucinating, I think I told him my name was Richard Nixon. I was in no condition to give speeches. I was in the hurt locker.

So determined was I to finish that contest, I ended up in the first stages of organ failure. My body temperature was well over 106. Before I left the hospital the next day, they had pumped gallons of fluids into me.

Why? What drove me to put my own health at risk to finish an insignificant race that meant absolutely nothing to anybody besides me?

I’m still not entirely sure why. It could have been that it was my first triathlon. I was determined to finish that first race. My wife and babies and a few friends were there. I was determined to not let them down. I don’t know, I guess I was just determined…

I remember as the legs cramps and dizziness were intensifying and the pain was barely tolerable, my entire mind tunnel visioned down to one singular thought… finish. I wanted that finish with a “terrifying longing”. You know, like that cliche… when you want something so badly that you can taste it. It was like that. I could taste it.

What is it for you that arouses a longing so powerful that it is “terrifying”? Find that, whatever it is, and I can assure you that you’ll accomplish any objective you have in mind.

When your focus is commanded by something that powerful it will crowd out anything that might arise to distract or disrupt you.

Practically the entire world wants to lose weight. Sadly, most fail. Repeatedly. Then, give up.

If you want to lose weight, please allow me give you some sound counsel. The idea of “losing weight” will never be compelling enough that it produces the “terrifying longing” of which we speak.

“Losing weight” is too abstract of an idea. It doesn’t have enough granular meaning.

Instead, take your introspection a few layers deeper, to really get at your “why”. What about losing weight would make your life better? How would that feel? What would you look like? Feel like? What changes in your life would that produce?

Gaining that sort of clarity is the difference maker. I believe it’s what separates those who succeed from multitude who do not.

Hopefully, you’ll have more sense than I did on that hot July day, and the pursuit of your goals doesn’t land you in the ER. But, hopefully gaining clarity on what you really desire and why will inspire the “terrifying longing” that so often makes all the difference.

Hope you have a pleasant and productive week!

Be strong, have fun!

Paul Reilly

Paul is the Owner and Founder of MidStrong. He created MidStrong in 2017 to train men and women in midlife who are busy with work and family to build muscle and burn fat so they can look and feel better than they did in their 20’s. MidStrong is making Functional Fitness training safe and fun, and inclusive. He and his wife, Julie also own and operate MidStrong locally, their bricks and mortar business, previously called ACCELERATED Strength & Balance. It is a boutique fitness center specializing in training folks in and around Westborough through the challenges of midlife for more than five years.