Subtitled: When a large man in a kilt stands in front of you and bends a full size wrench in half with his bare hands....you generally listen to what he has to say.
Meet Iron Tamer Dave Whitley, wearer of the kilt, bender of the iron, breaker of chains, lifter of the (maybe/probably Hammer of Thor), and welcome to part 5 of my #OneThing series, in which I reflect on the amazing weekend I spent learning from the best and brightest in San Diego at the Strength Matters Summit. The topic of Dave's conversation? Unleashing Your Superhuman Self...a topic that felt especially near and dear to my heart as I spent a good part of the weekend contemplating how the hell I would pull a 10,000 pound truck the weekend AFTER at California's Strongest Woman.
When we set out to make a change in our lives, why do we succeed? Why do we fail? What makes us take action in the first place, and what happens in our brains in that perilous first few weeks when we, for whatever reason, stop doing the shiny new thing?
YOU MUST DEFINE SUCCESS:
What is the current situation? Have an honest conversation with yourself (hint: this is where a coach can be REALLY useful in compassionately helping you sort out how to break down your goals in a manageable way, and if you're prone to falling victim to your own bullshit we can gently help you out there as well). If you suspect that your nutrition could use some work, this is a great opportunity to spend a couple of days journaling your hunger and food intake to see what's really happening. Feeling plateaued in your fitness? Assess the past few months. Are you a serial program jumper? If you've stuck religiously to a program, is the best fit for what you're actually trying to accomplish?
What does success look like? Get detailed and descriptive. How will your success carry over into other areas of your life? Do you see yourself leaner and stronger? Do you see you and your family enjoying homemade pizza night together once a week instead of mindlessly zoning out in front of tv with delivery? Do you see yourself closer to being out of debt because of the money you've saved? Do you see yourself sleeping more soundly and waking up more refreshed? Write it down. Repeat it when things are going well AND when they aren't.
Define your WHY. A HUGE gap when it comes to most nutrition and fitness programs. I use the 5 Why's to help my clients really start to attach their goals to their values. It's easy to say "I'm gonna stop eating sugar" or "I'm going to run more," but when you start to dig into the real reasons you're pursuing this new activity it helps with keeping you motivated when things get hard. If we tease out the fact that you're cutting back on pizza BECAUSE you want to lose weight BECAUSE you want to be healthier BECAUSE your father passed away of a heart attack at a young age AND you want to be healthier for your kids, that will feel a lot different than cutting back on a pizza habit BECAUSE you know you spend way too much money on takeout food and BECAUSE you want to get your finances under control. Overall, it becomes a lot easier to "remember the long game," as OPT says, and keep you motivated for the long haul.
Change your attitude. Dave pointed out that the primary cause for success or failure is our own self-image. When we talk about our future selves using the language we've always used in the past, we set ourselves up for failure. If you embark on a new journey counting the minutes until you get a sugar craving and fail, because that's what you've always done, that's what you'll continue to do. Using that image of success you wrote down earlier, reaffirm that you're ALREADY THAT PERSON using actions rather than outcomes.
Example: "I've always struggled with cravings and have battled my weight for years. I'm doomed to be overweight forever. I may as well just order pizza tonight. I'm so tired."
Instead, try this: "I'm a person who exercises regularly, and who eats vegetables and protein with each meal. I model healthy behaviors so my kids will develop a good relationship with food as they grow up. I'm mindful of my intake of foods like pizza because I know they're delicious but don't leave me with a lot of energy to play with my kids."
Build in compassion. Most of us have spent our lives idealizing a future in which our perfect self shows up for business, day after day, with nothing ever going wrong. Kids don't get sick, the landlord doesn't suddenly raise the rent, the car doesn't get broken into, you get the big promotion and continue to be Wonder-Person, cooking freshly prepared perfectly balanced meals every day for your eager family. You Have Your Shit Together. And when that inevitably doesn't happen, we throw up our hands, declare that it's too difficult, and promise to start again on Monday (which of course means I will TOTALLY order cheese fries tonight, because hey! #DietStartsMonday!)
What if your path to achievement included compassion for yourself?
What if you talked to yourself the way you'd talk to your kid? Or your puppy? Or your friend?
What if, instead of demanding perfection and failing, you started small and worked on consistency?
What if you made it easier on yourself rather than harder?
What would you do if you knew you could not fail; and what could you accomplish if you set yourself up to be successful?