Featured, Fitness, Lifestyle, Motivation, Wellness

When the Path Gets Tough, Keep Looking Forward


Earlier this summer I went on my very first mountain biking excursion in Bend, Oregon, with my dad. I thought this would be a fun and active way to spend part of our family trip and balance out the inevitable vacation calories. And what better place to experience mountain biking than the city that’s a famous hotspot for this very activity? “How hard can it be?” I thought. Turns out … it’s pretty hard. When I wasn’t nervously clenching the brakes down the rugged terrain, I was trying to avoid crashing into a tree or jagged rock. I’m forever grateful for the very kind and patient tour guides who kept encouraging me to trust the bike and trust myself. One of the guides noticed that I kept looking down (you know, to spot those jagged rocks) and suggested that I keep my head up and looking forward. “If you keep looking down,” he politely pointed out, “that’s where you’ll end up.”

This got me thinking about trust. When it comes to making a lifestyle change or trying a new physical activity, why is it so easy to have so little faith in ourselves and our abilities? Our bodies are capable of incredible things, and I’m not just talking about gymnasts, marathoners or Olympic athletes. I love when I hear stories from TOPS members who went from being unable to walk to the mailbox to finishing their first 5K. Or members who started lifting soup cans to slowly build strength. While these members all had different physical abilities, they all had one thing in common – they had faith and trust in themselves and they believed they could do it.

Fortunately, I didn’t end up taking a spill that day. I stayed focused on quieting any negative thoughts and looking forward. And once my thoughts shifted from constant fear of falling, I actually had fun. I’m not suggesting that you stay positive 24/7, because I know that’s not realistic. Just have a little faith and trust in yourself and, when the path gets rugged and rocky, keep looking forward.

Have you overcome any physical obstacles or do you have any activity adventures to share? Tell me about them in the comments section below!

29 thoughts on “When the Path Gets Tough, Keep Looking Forward

  1. WOW – You are so brave! I’ve been asthmatic all my life and as a child was always in and out of the hospital. Weighing over 300 lbs as an adult put tons of limits on my body, physical and emotional. I used asthma as my excuse for not exercising. Then I turned 40 and realized that excuse didn’t work anymore. Being a KOPS, a Century member and an Area Captain I knew I had to make a BIG change and start to do more of talking the talk as well as walking the talk. Step up and be an example. Since then I just listen to what my body tells me. If I start coughing or feel that tightness in my lungs I slow down or take a rest. Don’t want to go the hospital with a full blown asthma attack. I go to the gym 3 days a week, work machines, do Zumba and have a trainer that I really harass. Guess I had to stop making excuses and move forward and like you have faith and trust that I would be fine. LOVE this Wednesday Wellness Maggie!!!!

    1. Ron, you are such an inspiration and your messages always make me smile. I find that’s a work in progress to trust and have faith in your abilities, but we can do it and we’re worth it!


  2. I’m a 16 KOPS who try to get out to walk most mornings in my neighborhood. I lost about 50# to goal. Without weighing in every week I wouldn’t be able to maintain this loss so I will forever remain a member of TOPS NC 955..

    1. 50 pounds is incredible, Jan! Also, you’re inspiring me to get out and get walking more – I’ve been slacking a little lately. 🙂

  3. Mountain biking can be scary! Kudos to you for challenging yourself and looking forward, Maggie. Two years ago I started playing tennis with a drop-in adult group, after not having played since I was a kid. I was nervous that I would stink and that people would be unfriendly. I was really rusty, but everybody was welcoming, so now I play every Friday, and I’m steadily improving.

  4. So true keeping your head up. That is true when times are tough, keep our head held high! Thank you for your proactive and positive messages. Always enjoy your blogs. I have back issues and am able to still stay physically active. Nutrition goes hand in hand with exercise.

  5. Encouraging words! I live in a small town in CO and we have some great weather and opportunities for outside activities. Glad you enjoyed your time here!

  6. I love your Blogs, and needed this one. I lost my Momma in Dec. and I have had my head down ever since, before she died, I had lost 95 pounds and she was my inspiration! I have put back on around 8 pounds ( just here within 24 days) and have been giving myself leeway to eat unhealthy while on vacation. What I am trying to say is, ” I am going to pick my head up and start having faith that I can finish what I started with my Momma!” I have about 38 pound to go. So thank you for sharing!!!

    1. I’m so very sorry to hear about your mom, Claudia. I truly appreciate you sharing, and love to hear that you’re going to finish what you started! You can do this!

  7. Maggie, I’m scheduled to give the chapter program on August 23rd. What better program than to read about your adventure in Oregon with your dad. Bend is a beautiful Central Oregon town. I’ve lived in Oregon all my life —- a bit prejudice, but it’s a pretty state with many places to hike and/or bike. Will use the title of “When the Path gets Tough, Keep Looking Froward.”

    1. Thank you, Bobetta! And so sorry for the delayed response – a technical issue kept me from receiving your comment, but I’m happy I’m seeing it now. Hope the program went well! And I love Oregon 🙂

  8. I have a hard time walking because of spinal stenois, but I keep trying.
    Keep up all of your encouraging words.

    1. I love that you keep looking forward, Arlene, and thank you for sharing! Apologies for the delay in my response – we had a tech issue where messages were “stuck.” All should be well now!

  9. I lost a sister to suicide about a year ago and last winter was the sickest I’ve been for years with a severe sinus infection that took forever to conquer and knee issues that have finally healed. I had hit my lowest weight ever before these things occurred. I gained 20 pounds. But the good news is I have gotten healthy enough emotionally and physically to continue my journey and am finally losing again. Your image of looking up during this new phase is wonderful. Thanks!

    1. Linda, I am so sorry for my delay in responding. As you may have seen in my recent replies above, we had some technical issues with the blog. I’m so very sorry for your loss. It’s so good to hear that you’re healing and I truly appreciate you sharing.

  10. Just getting up and out walking in the morning has helped me in my weight loss journey. Facing the scale at our meetings has encouraged me also. But after walking 1 hour each day I try to think about the food I eat. Since rejoining TOPS in July of 2018 I have walked off 31 pounds!

  11. That’s awesome, Alice! I try to walk my dogs every day, too. Even if I don’t feel like it, I always feel better after 🙂

  12. I am 56 yrs old and 40lbs over weight, so why did I buy tickets to a Modo recumbent bike that should be for kids, lol, Well I won the silly thing and had fun playing on it till I got serious and ride it every day to the end of my road and back which is little over a mile, last week when I weighed in I had lost 4 lbs, this girl is very proud of her funny bike and weight loss. Might just have to add another round trip to my journey….

  13. I love that, Lori! If it’s okay with you, I’d love to feature your story in an upcoming Wellness Wednesday blog! I think it’s important for people to know that getting active CAN be fun. 🙂 Also, if you’d like to email me a picture of you on this bike to feature in the blog, that would be awesome too! If not, no problem at all. Looking forward to hearing more from you! Feel free to send me an email at mthorison@tops.org. Thanks!

  14. I read your article and I’m one of those people that has trouble walking (plantar fasiciatis, arthritis, and legs that feel like lead). I’ve got the nutrition part down and I know that what I need to do is get physical. But it’s hard to keep going day after day when there’s so much pain. It’s easy to say walk further next time, but for me a typical day is 750 steps or so. I went out one day to try and get 10,000 but only got as far as 4,000 then couldn’t walk for a few days. I’ve got to do something so that I resume getting physical. I’m a good swimmer but even swimming has taken it’s toll because of the knee pain. I have a treadmill but when I find myself wanting to get on the treadmill I don’t want to face the dread of pain in my legs. Please help provide advice – Desperately needing help on this matter.

    1. Hi Scott – Thanks for reaching out, and I’m glad that you’re bringing up the fact that there’s no one form of physical activity for everyone, because it’s so true! First and foremost, please know that the information provided is general, and you should always make sure to check with a licensed healthcare professional before making changes to your physical activity. You’re welcome to check out the Getting Active page in the Members Area of the TOPS website: https://www.tops.org/tops/TOPS/Member/Getting_Active.aspx. Here you’ll find ideas for low-impact exercise (Tai Chi, for example) plus workout ideas and more. I hope this is helpful!

  15. HI I am new to this blog and I am inspired by what I have read. I joined TOPS in 2016 and have lost 66pounds. Thank you for sharing.
    Eleanor Graves TOPS NS 2688

  16. Thank you for your Wednesday Wellness, I have enjoyed reading them each week. As I read this one about not giving up and keep moving forward, it made me think about why I decided 10 years ago at age 65, at almost 300 hundred pounds to get healthy for me.
    It took 10 years of up and down weigh loss but I decided it was time to get serious. I have finally loss 95 pounds and was hoping to make it 100 pounds this year but I think I’m ok if I don’t this year. I’m ready to loose and get to my goal of a 150 pounds and become a KOPS. So I’m looking forward to meeting my goal in 2022. Good luck with whatever you decide to do in the future.

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