Last night was the closing party for the 15th  90 Day Challenge.  A room full of people celebrating their success in completing 13 weeks of focused effort to improve their health. 

The best part of the closing party is hearing so many stories.  Real life stories.  Not only stories of inches and pounds lost, although there is plenty.  We hear about surviving health scares, family tragedy, and job loss.  Making new connections, finding new inspiration, a love of yoga or Zumba, and conquering the rock wall.  Stories of finally utilizing a gym membership owned for years, and realizing it’s not a building full of beach bodies and muscle heads. Stories of lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, alleviated depression, less medications.  In the 6 years I’ve been co-directing this program, the stories we’ve shared could fill a book. (Yes – that idea is in the works.)

What I love most is that we see so much evidence that success can be defined in so many ways.  Everyone in that room can say that their life changed for the better over the previous 90 days.  Perhaps not by the measure of their original goal of weight loss or size reduction.   But when choosing to define success by measures other than the momentary mass of their body, everyone learned, everyone connected, everyone evolved, everyone won.  

In my remarks to the crowd last night I told of a 90 Day alumni who recently rejoined my Wednesday 6pm workout group. She arrived with eyes down, admitting her “guilt” and labeling herself as the one who “always falls off the face of the earth and disappears from the gym”.   “Funny”, I told her.  “I’ve worked with you for years and I see you as the one who always comes back.”   How is that not success?  

A mentor once asked me “what if there is no failure – only learning?”  I shrugged him off initially, thinking he was just using semantics to pull me out of one of my self-imposed beat downs over not getting enough done.  Sure, we’re simply talking about perspective here. But change is hard.  Really hard.  Especially the long term type.  In my work as a coach and a trainer, helping my clients develop a deeper compassion for themselves and appreciation for every move they make; those words are like rocket fuel.   It is a perspective that compounds success.  We’ve all learned for ourselves how we feel  – and how we act  – when we’re living in a mindset of success and learning.  

Congratulations to every participant in the Spring 2012 90 Day Challenge.  May every day ahead be filled with success – by your own compassionate, appreciative definition.