What a Mature Woman Learned from a Navy Seal

Do you have to be a beast every day? Yes. Yes, you do.

What is a beast? Historically, calling a person a beast denoted something negative like they’re rude, crude, and unacceptable. But more contemporary jargon employs the descriptive term, beast, as a compliment for someone who performs at the highest levels.

So, indeed, you should be a beast every day. I learned incredible lessons about being a beast when I read Embrace the Suck by Brent Gleeson, a bonafide Navy Seal. I chose this book as part of a thematic editorial and personal development plan I developed through Ninja Writers. It’s been a terrific learning journey so far this year.

My May theme was Completion. Initially, I searched for a book specifically about finishing things because I’ve been known to procrastinate and quit stuff. It’s been such an issue, I have previously been compelled to write about the unfinished things in my life. I’m glad I found this book instead because it addresses the work ethic and so much more.

I may be in the sunset years of my life, but I can still change.

I recently made significant life alterations when I retired from higher education and turned myself into a writer. I became a productive writer, completing my first novel draft in five months and attracting hundreds of followers on this platform in a year. Family and friends seem impressed, but what they don’t know, is that I’m not always a beast-y writer.

And I wanna be a writing beast every day.

Though I’m not the kind of person who phones it in, I can be as unmotivated and lazy as the most slovenly folk. Hey, maybe I can be a beast at that! Ha, I don’t think so.

But I’ll also never be a Navy Seal, or anything close. Those guys give it all physically and mentally, day after day, night after night, all over the world. Though I won’t ever endure Seals-like training nor engage in anything akin to hand-to-hand combat, I can be a better version of myself. Both physically and mentally, there is absolutely an incredible amount of work I know I should do. I merely have to choose to do so while applying the lessons I learned from Gleeson.

Lesson 1: Get comfortable with being uncomfortable

Gleeson gives great advice about escaping your comfort zones. We all have them. A comfort zone, you likely know, encompasses those actions one is willing to do. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather choose to step out of my comfort zone than be forced by adversity I could have avoided (poor health, for example).

I’m old enough to know now that I cannot grow without pushing myself into places where I will be uncomfortable, possibly even miserable. I must decide, though, where I wish to remain comfortable and where I’m willing to push against self-made barriers. Gleeson suggests doing the following to enter a zone of discomfort:

a) set loftier goals, i.e., aim higher
b) get over the small stuff, and
c) reduce temptations.

Not too hard, right?

Personally, I need loftier fitness goals. I don’t like exercise. I absolutely hate to run, and I believe it’s because my body’s not cut out for it. I’ve been known to say that I don’t have the lung capacity for it. So in light of Gleeson’s idea of a “wheel of misfortune” (do exercises you hate the most), I’ve considered adding running to my routine. And, of course, I’d pick the summer to start such grueling work!

Then again, discomfort comes in all shapes and sizes. Maybe I can get out of running. You see, I’ve been on a deliberate, evolving health kick this year. I’ve written about being inspired by a Facebook group of women to pretty much overhaul my eating, my activity levels, and my spiritual life.

I’ve lost 12 pounds since February, which isn’t much but it’s no small feat for a woman over 60. Exercise is only a small part of weight loss, so we’re told. Still, in order to maintain a decent basal metabolic rate (burning calories at rest), my body needs to be a bit more beast-y than it is right now. I need more lean muscle mass and that is best accomplished through strength training.

“Do something that sucks every day.” (Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins)

Which leads me back to that discomfort zone. I honestly hate sweating. I’m sure it’s the English blood in me, and I am a priss most of the time. I’ve been engaging in aerobic exercise, yoga, and strength/resistance training daily since February. I spend 10–12 minutes on it each morning. Plus, I walk 30–60 minutes five days a week.

And I’m trying to be the fittest beast every day.

Inspired by Gleeson, this morning I exercised 20 minutes, basically doubling my prior times. I was totally done after that. I couldn’t get into the shower fast enough. My goal is to get to 30 minutes of that energetic motion before August 1. I’ll be logging it in my weekly planner to keep myself on target.

Lesson 2: Align your goals with your values

Your priorities must align with your values. If you don’t believe in a goal deep in your heart, you won’t do it. Will you?

A little introspection and personal honesty will help anyone decide where their values lie. What you value will often be revealed in what you spend time doing, talking about, writing about, watching, buying, and so on.

In April, my middle daughter bought me a fitness tracker. My husband who is generally supportive and encouraging decided to be snarky and said, “That’ll last a month.” I honestly thought he meant it would break! But no, he meant I’d quit it. I’ve beaten his prediction already, and we’ll see how long I remain engaged with this physical goal. Can I be a beast? Time will tell, but my answer right now is — yes, I am going to be my fittest self this year.

“Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.”
Chief Tecumseh

Lesson 3: Life is a series of choices

Okay, I didn’t really “learn” this one from Gleeson. I’ve made more than a few choices and some of them were really stupid. Still, as we age, we do not become static creatures and we do not lose opportunities to make more choices.

“Life is a matter of choices, and every choice you make makes you.” John Maxwell

We make many choices every day. But they are not all the same, so we must ask these questions before we invest mental, emotional, and physical effort into those decisions:
-Which choices are consequential?
-Which choices don’t matter?

I choose every morning how I will spend my day. That I’ve not finished the revisions on my debut novel is all on me. I’ve made choices every hour of each day. This week, I wrote in my planner that I’d write at nine every morning. I did not write at nine, but I did write every day. I also wrote that I would work on five pieces of writing this week, the novel being one of them. I will likely address only three — but I’ll take it.

When I do choose not to write, then I need to be the adult in the room and ask myself why. It is a consequential choice for me and it must be addressed. And truthfully, my fellow writers will tell you that making yourself sit in a chair and write can sometimes suck.

Final Thought

Gleeson suggested a little exercise to make one think about moving forward into next steps and next choices. How would you fill in these blanks?

When it comes to _____, I never want to regret ______.

You can fill them over and over to represent all the things you deeply value. This premise aligns a bit with the idea of the bucket list — that stuff you want to do before you die. But it’s a lot more.

Here are two value statements from me:
When it comes to my three children, I never want to regret not being there when they need me.
When it comes to my current novel, I never want to regret not seeing it through to publication.

Examining these two statements tells me that I value relationships with my kids and I value my novel. Now, it’s incumbent upon me to put time and energy into being a beast mom and a beast writer. Even at my age…

I know I can do it.

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