Avoiding the Hard Things


I saw these stairs at a house we recently visited and because the house was three stories, I went up and down these stairs dozens of times while we were there.

I even remarked to one of my older children that I would have avoided these stairs like the plague if I had been 305 pounds. And it’s true.

During this visit, if I needed something on the first floor I would hike down the two flights of stairs to get it and hike back up those same stairs without a second thought.

Not so when I was overweight. I avoided the physically hard things whenever possible. That meant I found the elevator in malls and tried to never climb the stairs. I rode the escalator up and down in airports rather than negotiating the stairs, and I was the person who volunteered to stay with the smaller children during field trips to the nature museum rather than hike the trails with the older kids.

Avoiding hard things may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but in reality that avoidance just ended up hurting me. Instead of building more steps into my day, I sat down as much as possible in order to avoid getting winded or feeling more tired than I already did.

I think in some ways I was just lazy and a bit afraid of what physical activity might do to me. I was worried that I would hurt myself instead of admitting how much I was hurting myself by always choosing the easy way out. I was worried about what people would think if they saw my 300 pound self huffing down the road. I should not have worried about those things at all.

Once I started avoiding the hard things I realized that those hard things did not hurt me, but instead helped me. They helped me physically but also helped me mentally. My confidence in myself increased ten-fold and my emotional well-being increased even more.

I think it is human nature to avoid the hard things in life. Even now I have to push myself to try hard things. I challenged myself to swim a mile and I was very nervous to build up to that. But after a few months I did it. I did it slowly, but I completed the one mile swim in our university’s pool. And I was proud.

I wonder if you are at all like me and find yourself sometimes avoiding the hard things. If you are, I’d challenge you to find one hard thing you’d like to do and make a plan to get it done. My hard thing right now is to build up to walking 5 miles three times a week. Right now I do 3 to 3.5 miles very consistently, but know I can do more.

What hard thing have you avoided or what hard thing have you done recently? Diane

24 thoughts on “Avoiding the Hard Things

  1. sugar says:

    I totally identify with this. I always volunteered to take care of the cell phone and shoes when we went to the beach. I’d say I was not interested in getting myself wet when really I was just too self conscious about getting into the water!

  2. jules- big girl bombshell says:

    Funny but I am more apt to avoid the fun things rather than the hard things.
    As I read this, that is immediately what came to mind.
    Also I tend to avoid the daily, mundane things
    food for thought

  3. Dr. J says:

    It certainly can become a downward spiral. Fortunately you, Diane, made it an upward spiral and only look back, but never go back πŸ™‚

  4. Amy says:

    I think the hardest thing I ever did was cultivate my exercise habit – I really was someone who hated exercise and would avoid it at all cost!

    The interesting thing to me is that we all have something different that seems really hard…it’s so individual!

  5. Jody - Fit at 54 says:

    All my really hard things are non fitness related Diane – real life like job searching & things like that – those are the hard things for me! I keep trying to get past the fear of failure there…

  6. KarenJ says:

    I took a (too long) break from traditional working out due to a change in my work schedule. When I made the commitment to start back, I realized that even walking longer distances, which used to be so easy, was now difficult for me. It’s always the starting that’s challenging. Now that I’ve been at it for a few weeks, I feel my energy level increasing and finding it easier to complete a dvd or take a long walk with my husband. It’s a good feeling.

  7. Leah says:

    The 10K I ran last month was the hardest thing I’ve done physically. Sticking to my eating plan is the other hardest thing I’m trying to master.

    Like you I remember avoiding stairs at my heaviest weight. Our new house has our master bedroom upstairs , so now I’m climbing them daily. Also, like you, I now see them as an added opportuni for extra fitness in my day, but I would’ve hated them 60 pounds ago.

    I have to add….parenting kids into teen years is becoming a new hardest thing for me. Whew! Little ones were no biggie, but that’s all changing. πŸ™‚ Have a great week, Diane!

  8. Jeremy Logsdon says:

    I often find that I want to avoid things where there is even the potential for embarrassment. For years, I had everyone (myself included) that I didn’t like amusement parks because I was afraid (heck, I knew I wouldn’t) fit in the roller coaster seats. As soon as I am thinner, not necessarily goal weight but thinner, I’m going back.

    I wonder sometimes how much of life I’ve avoided is truly because I’m physically incapable of it or just not willing to embarrass myself for trying.

  9. blackhuff says:

    True Diane. Hard things is what I too that was an obese person, have avoided.
    Currently, new strength training exercises are hard but I’m pushing through πŸ™‚

  10. Meg (@LadyMegSoprano) says:

    When I first started training, I felt like every eye in the gym was on my overweight body, watching it strain and sweat. One day it occurred to me that everyone is self-conscious in a gym–and no one is worried about how I look except my trainer, and he’s not judging, he’s assessing for proper form.

    I used to avoid the stairs, park as close to the entrance of a store or mall as I could get, and find whatever movement-saving perk I could. These days, I park further away to avoid all the annoying drivers, take the stairs so I’m not stuck on a crowded elevator, and, in general, find more ways to move.

  11. Cynthia R. says:

    It was an episode of stair-avoidance that was my wake-up call. When I was at my highest weight, we had a fire drill at my office — and when it was time to go back in, two of our bank of six elevators were out, so it was either a VERY long wait for an elevator, or walk up with my office mates. My office mates were going to take the stairs — hey, we’re only on the fourth floor, so let’s leave the elevators for the people who have further to go! I knew I couldn’t manage it without an excessive amount of huffing and puffing, so I suddenly “remembered” that I needed to pick something up at the drug store accross the street… and then came back in a half hour when the elevators were available again.

    I’m sure I had many other moments like that, but for some reason that day it really got to me that I was only 38, and without any disabilities other than morbid obesity — and I was already unable to get myself up a few flights of stairs without great difficulty. That evening, I started (literally) taking steps to get healthier. It wasn’t easy — for my first attempt, I tried walking the mile home from my office, and it was SO much harder than I thought it would be. It seems a little pathetic now, but when I finally got home I had to sit in a chair for 20 minutes to catch my breath. I had no idea that I’d gotten THAT far out of shape, but I decided that if I didn’t get to work soon, I surely would be very badly off indeed. So I kept pushing little by little, and very soon, I started reaping the rewards. Now, at a few weeks shy of my 40th birthday and 110 pounds lighter — I take the stairs every chance I get! πŸ™‚ I’ve actually run races and done other things I’d never thought I’d be able to since that fateful fire drill, but I’m still grateful for every morning that I can climb those stairs at work. It’s a reminder of how far I’ve come, and what I never want to go back to.

  12. nan @ lbddiaries says:

    I like how you just tell the truth. Avoiding things becomes a very bad habit and sometimes it really is just fear of hurting yourself (as I have done a few times). I am facing the treadmill this week. I am going to walk even if it is only a quarter mile. I will defeat this object I’ve been avoiding!

  13. Mairi Brown says:

    About 10 weeks ago I convinced myself to go back to Salsa Dancing class because I really love it and its a great workout. The class is 90 minutes long and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do the whole class. To my surprise, I didn’t have a problem and I was smiling after 15 minutes. So, yesterday, I took my first Yoga class in like 5 years and it was tough but it made me feel really good to do it again. I was sore afterwards but felt great when I got up this morning. Now I wish I hadn’t waited so long to go back.

  14. Gregg Ghelfi says:

    The first few steps are always the most difficult when trying to accomplish a hard task. I am not a morning person but find it easier to exercise in the morning before the day becomes night and I miss another day. Getting out of bed is agonizing but taking the first few steps on my run is invigorating. Bridging the gap between the two is often the difference between success and failure.

  15. Roz@weightingfor50 says:

    This is such a great post Diane. I’m still recovering from foot surgery, but I’ve already picked a tough dance class to attend in a couple of months. When I was bigger, I’d probably have avoided it, now, I can’t wait to try. Have a great MOnday.

  16. I ❀ 2 Eat says:

    I have always found stairs rather difficult to climb, and partially because my knees are awful. My knees also made me afraid of running, and that’s one thing I always avoided doing until taking it seriously for the 5K I recently completed. It was only a 5K, but it was emotional finishing it…I couldn’t believe I ran all the way! I actually have a similar story about push-ups which I was drafting for my blog…it should be up soon! πŸ™‚

  17. Vickie says:

    Read your most excellent interview on Karen Anderson’s blog over the weekend (out of town, her archives gave me somewhere to put my mind to pass the time happily distracted and relaxed). Ordered your book and Karen’s from amazon today, they should be waiting for when I get home over the weekend. Then off for three day college trip with my middle. Planning to read while I am there.

    I avoided ANY time on my feet at my heaviest. I literally thought my knees only had a limited number of steps left in them for my whole life and was always in conservation mode. Good post.

  18. Melody says:

    Wow, am I ever naive. I thought that I have not been avoiding anything, recently, but reading other people’s posts have made me realize that I have been avoiding many things. I tried a couple of weeks ago to jog on the treadmill, just for as long as I could, I thought. I stopped almost immediately. Not because I could not do it but because of all my excess weight on my body that was shaking so badly that I was worried about what people were witnessing. Yikes! I was so embarrassed that even after losing 60 lbs I could still look and feel like this.

    Years ago I used to teach Ballroom, country and Latin dancing and I stopped doing it quite a few years ago and I have been missing it so much. I realize I have been avoiding going back because since then my weight has increased and more importantly my knee’s have become a serious ‘pain’ problem. I really miss it though. πŸ™

    I have also been avoiding looking, really looking into why I am having such a problem getting my motivation back in the ‘food plan’ area. I was doing so great. I was working hard and lost 60 lbs in 8 months and then it all stopped about mid December and I have not lost a thing since. I know it is my food that is the issue but it is my mind that is controlling that.

    Like I said at the beginning…WOW! I have a lot of things I need to face. Thank you Diane for this post and to others for their replies. You have opened my eyes.


  19. jeanette says:

    Hi Diane…. yep, me too. Just last week I was hiking with my honey and I was so delighted and proud that I never lagged or was out of breath. A couple years ago, I could not and would not have wanted to go hiking. Yay for milestones.
    p.s. I have been making whole wheat cinnamon rolls for the family, and they are loving them!

  20. DynaLou says:

    Sometimes, it is not easy to avoid the hard things in life.. It comes and all we have to do is accept it and learn how to live with it..

  21. Chucky says:

    Hi Diane! I think this is a well-written post and for sure a lot of people can benefit from this and get an inspiration.. thanks!

  22. monique says:

    I have the hardest time working out. I just hate doing it. People talk about how good they feel afterward, me, no. I don’t get the feel good rush. The actual workout doesnt hurt and is something I can do, so there is no physical challenge.

    Great post. Got me thinking.

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