Transform your life – Take charge
Carine Duval is a fitness Pro who works as a dental hygienist who started competing in fitness two years ago at the age of 42. She won her pro card eight months later.
Five years ago I was unfortunate to have been presented with challenges in almost every aspect of my life. I was dealing with an ongoing health issue and struggling with my career, which had negative repercussions in other areas of my life. For three years, it seemed as though I couldn’t catch a break. Every time I turned around, there was another setback trying to bring me down. I had lost my self esteem, motivation, and worst of all my faith. When I was pushed too far with yet another fateful event, I rebelled against all the negativity and misfortune; I decided it was time to take my life back and gain control. I changed my outlook on life to be positive and I began to incorporate positive people and positive things into my life. When I committed to this change, things started turning around for me…for the better. I had wonderful people entering my life with open arms and I was presented with many great opportunities. I saw the changes and I welcomed them. I met a friend who introduced to me the world of fitness competitions. She encouraged me to have an open mind and give it a try. I was a marathon runner and I have always been into fitness, but I never thought I could compete. With encouragement from my family and friends, I decided it was a fear in which I needed to conquer.
But I didn’t stop there! When I reached one goal, I move onto the next. Appearing in Fitness magazines was another goal I set to achieve. With this goal as a primary focus I went for it. And now look, here I am! Always having a goal, helps me to stay focused, remain positive, and it gives me a sense of direction, the right direction. Achieving another milestone is one of the most gratifying feelings there is. Taking pride in yourself gives you a sense of confidence and enlivens your spirit. Everyone has dreams, but to make those dreams reality requires hard work and determination; sometimes it’s not easy to reach those goals, but life isn’t meant to be easy. If life were always simple, people would be so bored and we would lose all interest in it. There will always be road blocks and challenges, but it’s so important to stay determined and motivated. Instead of looking down at the bumpy road ahead, keep your head held high, focused on the target you’ve set your sights on. And as you reach the mile markers on that road, check them off, and you’ll feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. You’ll catch the bug and want more. Your heart and soul will be screaming “Bring It On!”
Setting long term goals can be difficult because you’re unsure of what you want and which direction your life is headed. So start by setting short term goals; knowing you’re in control of your life gives you a feeling of confidence. These short term goals, once achieved, serve as building blocks and guidelines towards the long term goals.
At most times, we are our own worst enemy without even realizing it. How many times a day do we have something negative to say about ourselves physically or psychologically? Every time we do, we knock ourselves down a notch, pushing ourselves further away from our goal and happiness. Instead, try to be positive and encourage yourself. Complaining about your life and blaming others for your misfortune is a waste of time and energy, it compounds the negativity in your life. We live our own life; nobody else lives it for us, so make the most of it. Yes, there are things in life that are out of our control, but focus on what you can control, and accept the things you can’t. Believe in yourself, trust yourself, and most importantly, love yourself. You’ll become your own best friend, which means you’ve accepted yourself for the wonderful person you are.
We aren’t the only ones in our lives that can diminish and invalidate our goals. Some people try to take away our hopes and dreams with their negativity. Don’t let anyone kill your aspirations. Don’t succumb to their negativity by listening to their discouraging words. Again, stay focused on that road to happiness; it’s your car, you’re the driver, don’t let anyone else take the wheel.
Sharing my journey and experience is meant to help people realize that when life becomes a struggle, that they are not alone in this world and to have hope. I want to inspire other people who feel as though they’ve lost their way, their self confidence and self esteem. If you look hard enough, and want it bad enough, there is a way out. It’s never too late in your life for change. Reach for that goal or dream you’ve always had, don’t ‘be intimidated by it, everyone is afraid of taking risks. We can’t let fear get in our way of living. I hope to impress on others that they too can get in shape and achieve that look they’ve always wanted I want people to feel that sense of pride in how hard you worked to accomplish your goals. I will continue to strive to be the best I can be. I will take on any challenges life throws my way. Being true to you is the key. I look back to a year ago, and I would have never thought I’d have buns of steel, and six pack abs
Another goal of mine was to run the Boston Marathon. In order to be a participant in the Boston Marathon, one needs to either qualify with a minimum finishing time from a previous marathon, or run for a charity. Due to my competitive nature, I made the decision to challenge the qualifying time. With two herniated discs in my lower back, L4 and L5, I thought it was nearly impossible for me to run 26.2 miles. I wouldn’t allow my injury to dictate my life nor my physical activities. Psychologically and medically, I knew what I needed to do as far as protecting my back from further damage. In order for me to complete this challenge I was to first admit to myself that I can do this, and that it wasn’t an impossible task; and second, I needed to focus on my short term goals in order to achieve my long term aspiration: the 26.2 finish line. I concentrated on 5k’s and 10k’s which were my short term goals. I started training for speed and distance. As soon as I felt confident enough with my running ability, I signed up for half marathons. I started placing well in almost every race I entered. I was recognized for my hard work and was invited to run a 7 miler on Cape Cod Massachusetts. I was placed in the starting position with the elite runners, and I ran side by side with the Kenyans. This was such an experience and honor. I had the runners high; I wanted to run faster and longer; nothing could stop me. My motivation got the best of me. There were times when I trained with only myself in 90 degree temperatures with a dead IPod and empty water bottles. When I placed second in my age group at a 10k finishing with an average of a sub seven minute mile, I decided it was time to sign up for a qualifying marathon. Since I’m a Disney fan, I registered for The Disney Marathon in Florida. Running with Mickey could only make this experience better. With Goofy, and Donald Duck on my side, I knew this was going to be a victorious day. I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:39, and it was enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon, my long term goal. While I continued to train for the Boston Marathon, I came across many hurdles; the dreaded runners’injuries. From the strenuous training, I pulled my left hamstring, I developed plantar fasciitis in both feet, and tendonitis in my right ankle and my back was beginning to weaken. I couldn’t give up now, I worked so hard for this day, and I wanted to prove to my body that my mind was strong enough to carry me through it. I was determined to win this challenge. Another one of my dreams was becoming a reality as I ran my heart and soul out. I had family and friends along the way to cheer me on when I felt as though my body was going to give up. But with their support, I knew I was going to cross that finish line. It was at the 18th mile marker that a friend of mine jumped in the race to guide me up the most treacherous and challenging part of the course: the legendary Heart Break Hill. This is a series of hills in which the last of which rises a half-mile to the incline; after 20 1/2 miles, the effort becomes the toughest stretch on the course, and the injuries I was withstanding, I was afraid I might not make it. I forced myself to ignore the negative thoughts and physical pain, and focus on the end result. When I finally rounded the corner to the finish line, I saw my family and friends waiting there for me. I could see the pride in their faces, which inspired me to sprint to the finish line. As I ran the final stretch I saw an elderly man fall to his knees, and he was unable to get up because his legs buckled. I gave him words of encouragement as I reached out and offered him a helping hand. When I looked into his eyes, he stared back with such gratitude, it was overpowering. I crossed the finish line with an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, and the runner I helped was right behind me. My race time was 3:49. It wasn’t the race time I was hoping for, but despite all the injuries, I completed another long term goal because of my motivation and determination.
It’s never too late to transform your life and take charge!
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