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50/50: In basketball or life, making the shot is what matters

"You're trying out for basketball? You can't walk and chew gum at the same time!" My friends' laughter echoed down the alley behind our house. They were right. I was clumsy, and I knew nothing about basketball. What was I thinking? I felt my chee...

Susie Ekberg Risher

"You're trying out for basketball? You can't walk and chew gum at the same time!"

My friends' laughter echoed down the alley behind our house. They were right. I was clumsy, and I knew nothing about basketball. What was I thinking?

I felt my cheeks grow hot, my eyes started to tear up as I looked at the ground. I had two options. Give up and go home, or get determined and go all out.

I chose determined.

I set up a hoop in our backyard and stayed outside practicing my turnaround slop shot for hours every day. I went to two camps that summer between eight and ninth grade. I watched basketball games. And that fall I beat both of those friends out for a spot on the varsity team.

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Every day after practice I stayed until I had made 100 free throws. Made, not just shot. I still didn't know what I was doing, but I kept my eyes on the goal - ball in the basket.

Just as in basketball, there are many aspects of health. There's diet, exercise, attitude, weaving new habits into your day.

I feel overwhelmed.

I'm sitting here in my jammies, in my overstuffed chair by the window, and I just want to drink coffee, munch puppy chow and watch "Parenthood."

Maybe those friends were right, all those years ago. Maybe I am ridiculous to try anything new when I don't know what I'm doing. Maybe we should all just do those things that come naturally to us, those things that are easy. Maybe we should all just throw the ball up toward the hoop and call it good.

But shooting is not the same as scoring. Back in 1974, I saw the ball going into the hoop every time I shot it. And when it did, that counted as one. I counted until I got to 100, concentrating, and then I went home for the day.

I need to get that inner-vision again, of myself as strong with muscles and feet that don't ache every morning when I get up. I need to see myself as happy to stand in front of a camera instead of angling for the slim poses (sideways, hand on hip) or hiding behind others. I need to see myself happily eating kale and salmon instead of fudge and Big Trains.

My cholesterol is a tad high, and my mom died of complications of diabetes. I feel tired most of the time, and my clothes don't fit. Do we think it's magically going to get better if we do nothing to change our trajectory?

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As Albert Einstein said, "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

In other words, if nothing changes, nothing changes.

So I am going to commit five minutes every morning and five minutes every night to seeing myself as I wish to be - running again, slim, energetic, fitting into my clothes, smiling.

I'm staying until I make the 100 free throws, not just talking about how great it used to be, or daydreaming about what it might be like someday, but lacing up my Converse high tops and walking back onto the court.

Life will always be those two friends laughing at me, doubting me. And I will always have two choices - give up or get determined.

I choose determined.

Susie Ekberg Risher is a writer living in Fargo. Follow her on a yearlong journey to lose 50 pounds - half through emotional work and half through physical effort.

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Susie Ekberg Risher
Susie Ekberg Risher focuses on making a basket during her high school basketball career. Special to The Forum

Related Topics: HEALTH
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