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  • Writer's pictureJae Ritchie

Decidely Determined

How many times have you uttered the words – I am determined to…followed by so many things: lose weight, get healthy, run a 5K, write a book, start a blog, build a budget, save for a vacation or new car, etc. Good intentions give way to frustration and in a shorter amount of time it took for us to decide we have already given up. Feelings of failure all too often our best friend.


In our microwave society, expecting instant success or gratification has become the norm. How to lose 50 pounds in 6 minutes! How to become a millionaire while you sleep! How to become a New York Times Best Selling Author in three easy steps! We buy the product, take the course, do the things only to find out that nothing replaces determination and good old-fashioned time. Unfortunately, even determination has been redefined for us. You must start and then never stop. If you don’t lose ten pounds in the first week you aren’t putting in enough effort. If you haven’t done this in someone else’s time frame you simply aren’t working hard enough. Or even worse, you just aren’t good enough.


Confucius stated: “It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” This is perhaps the clearest way to explain the process of being determined. To become decidedly determined you must find your purpose and remain firm in it – resolute. This does not mean that you must get it right the first time. Or even the second, third, fourth or one hundredth time. Many self-help gurus throw around the idea that you should strive to be 1% better today than you were yesterday. Striving to be better every day is a lofty goal, a positive outlook on the path toward reaching that singular purpose you have resolved to attain. As much as we would love to believe that we can sustain linear growth for the rest of our life it is simply unreachable, unhealthy even.


I have struggled with my weight since I was a 30 something mother of four children. Losing weight, finding it again, misplacing it in a different area, locating it in another has become part of my never-ending cycle of body image issues. Realistically I have had body image issues my entire life. As a teenager and 20 something young mom it never occurred to me that there might come a time when my emotional eating would become a problem. Always active and being blessed with a high metabolism allowed me to binge eat and reap no consequences. Our bodies have a way of telling us when they have had enough of our shenanigans. Mine started to talk back at about 32. By 36, combined with a marriage on its last toe – no legs were left, my body said listen up bitch – stop it.


I was determined to lose weight. I was determined to follow all the plans that all the successful trainers and health professionals of the day decided were the way to go. Low-Carb, Paleo, Keto, severe calorie deficits, CrossFit, HIIT, running (that only lasted a half second), clean eating, and the list never ends. I would drop the weight and what I perceived as my lack of determination would create a scenario where it would find itself magically reappearing and usually bringing a few friends along for the ride.


Part of my therapeutic journey required me to take a deep dive into what clearly became disordered eating and understand the whys. That story is one of those long story, short situations that could fill up pages and pages of text. For the purposes of this blog I will say, I convinced myself that I simply wasn’t determined enough to do the right thing. While disordered eating still rears its ugly head at times I have come to understand that food is not my enemy, nor is it my source of emotional support.


What does this little detour through my past have to do with determination. For myself, and many others, this is the perfect example of how someone has convinced us that we lack what it takes to make a lasting change. Find your unwavering purpose – and then dive in with all the energy and drive you have. And then be prepared to hit bumps, snags, redirections, anger, discouragement, and every negative vibe imaginable. Allow yourself to step away, breathe, rest. Take the time you need to regroup and then brush yourself off and keep going. Remind yourself that you aren’t starting over. You are picking up where you left off. How many of us have ever been taught this definition of what it truly means to be determined?


Making the determination to do something doesn’t mean you will succeed immediately. I am currently sitting at the heaviest I have ever been, but my focus on who I am and what I need has changed. I haven’t quit striving to be healthy, strong, and active. I have accepted that my body can be celebrated just the way it is while I do so much more to honor who I am in the face of aging. Day by day I am taking action to become the person that will be able to spend hours chasing my grandchildren around a park, take long hikes with my wife, set off on adventures on horseback across the mountains that she and I both love so much. I have learned to accept who I am on this bumpy road called life while also encouraging myself to never quit stretching my boundaries.


Being decidedly determined doesn’t mean you will move forward without error. It just means that in the face of difficulties you will continue to keep going, you won’t give up. Being the healthiest version of yourself isn’t determined by a number on a scale, the hours logged in therapy, the miles put on your new shoes. Being the healthiest version of yourself is determined by taking every opportunity to live with grace, to love your body as it is, to forgive the ways you have not honored yourself in the past, and by seeking what you need to bring true and lasting joy back into your life. Writing that blog or book is about taking that first step and then the next step and the next until you find yourself looking down on the finished product. Whatever it is – give it your all in that moment. Understanding that your all may look different every single day for so many reasons. Your purpose should never feel like a burden or a chore. Your purpose should fill your cup and spill over onto others in ways you never thought possible.


There is no time frame on success. Only quitting is final. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” ~ Helen Keller. Dare to live outrageously, love wholeheartedly, and laugh wildly along the way.

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