The one book on the planet that has changed my life for the better is Dr Spencer Johnson's "Who Moved My Cheese?" It seriously has more of an effect on my life than any other hundred pages ever written.
I came across the book many years ago - and dismissed it, before that time as a bit of corporate wank.
But I remember the afternoon too well.
After a good day at work, an annoucement was made. The facilities manager at work had passed away. Suicide.
This guy's death left a hole. It was just before Christmas. He was popular, fun, had a kind word for all. Divorced and a father of a young girl, he seemingly had everything to live for. Now, about a fortnight before Christmas 2002, here we were in the offices of Merrill Lynch confused and bereft. Coming back from checking my mailbox I stopped in at a book shop and the book caught my eye. I purchased it.
Something made me stop on the walk home. I lay down on the grass in Fitzroy Gardens on this balmy December afternoon and read the book cover to cover.
In just under an hour, my life had totally changed.
This little book that goes on about the simple facts of change management. Looking for change, anticipating change, searching out change, embracing change.
And the big message, the big writing on the wall that sank in immediately.
"What would you do if you weren't scared."
My life changed for the better from that day.
Okay, there are times I use the excuse that I'm scared - but not often.
If I'm brutally honest with myself, half the reason I haven't finished the job of losing weight has been because I was scared. Scared to get out there, scared to know what it's like to feel attractive. Scared to take on the full possibilities of my life.
So now, when I find myself fearing something, I step back, look at whatever it is I'm doing - and try and think about what I could do if I wasn't being fearful.
Like yesterday, looking at the Thousand Steps in the Dandenongs, the fear set in. Standing around with the posse from the Biggest Loser Club, my online and real life support group (and I really wouldn't be doing this as well as I am without them) the thought of scaling the mountain set in.
Acknowledge the fear. Then do it anyway.
It's a silly fear, that one. I've done the thousand steps four or five times now. I went up in January with Laura and Trish from the posse early in January. Laura, now training to be a personal trainer romped it up. At the time I was nearly ten kilos heavier and not as fit - and my knee was still being difficult. Together, Trish, who's fitness levels were similar to my own, and I encouraged each other up the hill. It wasn't easy, it took us a bit over half an hour - but we did it.
And it felt fantastic.
Yesterday, the same fear set in. A few more people joined us - including a mother and daughter, Tracey and Sienna. This time Trish and I made it up in under half an hour - lighter, fitter and the climb was a little less intense. Of the mother and daughter, Tracey made it up a few minutes after Trish. Sienna, who suffers from asthma, walked back down after getting halfway up - she'd left her puffer behind - but full points for trying and giving it a red hot go. Next time we do it, she'll be fitter (and have her ventolin - and she'll be fine)
We also had a couple join us - they'd come a long way to come on the walk. They were late for the start - which coming from a distance, was forgiven. But after they got ready, they walked about a hundred metres up the hill, not even to the start of the steps, before retreating. The reason given for the back flip was that one or other of them felt ill.
Why couldn't the well one continue on the path up the hill? Why didn't they both take a leaf out of 15-year-old Sienna's book and give it a bit of a go? Why did they come in the first place?
At the top, once Tracey had joined us, we pondered the dilemma as a group. Laura, in personal trainer mode, said if she'd known, she'd have run down and kicked their bums up that sodding hill. Others of us were really disappointed that the two of them had bailed. We also noted that two or three years ago, all of us would have considered piking out at the bottom. None of us were fit then. None of us would relish climbing up a big hill for half an hour. Our former selves would have struggled. Some of us would have given it a go, puffing, panting and trying to haul ourselves up those steps - embarrassed by the sight of ourselves.
One of the lovely things about the 1000 Steps is no matter how often you go, people coming down will give you encouragement. People who are passing you will give you encouragement. The people you are with will give you encouragement.
How to you get that if you don't even start?
So here I am, on top of the hill, knowing I moved my own cheese. I'm making my own changes. I'm looking for change and loving the challenge. I'm working out what I really can do when I don't let fear get me.
And hell it feels good.
Thing is, for all the exercise I'm doing at the moment, there are more fears to be faced. This next one's going to be a doozy.
What am I, Pandora T. Behr, going to do with a three-year-old for a few days? In Canberra? Exercise challenges are a doddle compared to this.
Project Pandora Report - Day Seven
Well, seven days in to the 12WBT, I'm not wanting to chew my arm off at 3 pm through hunger, I'm exercising for at least an hour a day, burning 500-700 calories a session and wonderfully, I lost 2 kgs in the first week. I'm not missing sugar, the recipes are wonderful (the eggplant parmagiana was a revelation - actually all the food has been brilliant) and having the posse about who are all doing this is making this a good experience. One week down, eleven to go. Will just have to work out how to do this properly in Canberra when that occurs.
Oh, and re did my fitness test run with Trish on the flat of the Tan. I ran alongside her encouraging and yelling at her all the way ("watch the breathing, lengthen the stride, come on, nearly there" sort of stuff.). Six minutes eight seconds - nearly a clear thirty seconds quicker than on the tready. And no knee pain.
Pandora the runner is back.
And I have to look at what I could do if I wasn't yelling and talking and encouraging as well as running. What time would I make? Hmmm....