Some coaches get frustrated when they sense that their clients are seeking a magic pill or a quick fix. In this article, I talked about the downside of wishing for a quick fix. Even when you know what you need to do, the magic is really in the doing, and for that there is no magic pill. No one can eat for you or move your body for you. So let’s look at some things that might be holding you back.
What do you really want to achieve, and why?
Maybe you aren’t attached to your goal in a meaningful way. Here I talk about the power of asking “why?” For whatever your goal is, dig deep! Why is that your goal? Challenging yourself like this is one way to explore where you are in your comfort zone and know whether you have the energy to bust through. For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, why? Why is 10 pounds important to you? How would your life be different if you lose 10 pounds? And why is that important to you? Keep asking yourself why until something really resonates.
If you struggle with this exercise, maybe you’ve been focusing on the wrong goal. Try some other possible goals on and see how they compare in helping you find a meaningful connection to becoming more active and/or eating better. This is the connection that will help you decide – and act on the knowledge – that maybe going out for drinks or eating hot fudge sundaes every night probably isn’t supportive of your goal.
It’s hard to leave your comfort zone, but that IS where the magic happens.
By comfort zone I mean all the ways you are accustomed to get through your day: the routes you take to different places (including through the grocery store), the way you respond to events, the amount of energy you expend, and the types/amounts of food you eat.
You can’t stay in your comfort zone, doing what you are currently doing, and expect change to happen. Acting outside your comfort zone can be uncomfortable and hard to sustain, which is why after short-term interventions it is so easy to fall back into your old habits.
And there is so much uncertainty that comes with the prospect of change. What if you stretched and pushed your comfort zone so it gradually got bigger and bigger?
Did you ever wonder why dumbbells in gyms typically increase by 2.5 pounds up to a certain weight? For me – and my clients – increasing in smaller increments makes all the difference in building up to lifting heavier. When a 5-pound jump is just too much, a 2.5-pound increase lets us stretch and grow into getting stronger
Find goals you can APPROACH rather than avoid.
It’s too easy to call to mind all the habits we think we are doing wrong that need to be stopped. So when we want to improve ourselves and reach our goals, the first thought is avoidance: Stop eating cookies when I get home. Stop drinking soda. Don’t be so lazy.
The problem is habits – our patterns of thought and behavior – are entrenched neural pathways in our brains and you can’t really just turn them off so easily. So let’s ignore the bad habits for a moment and think of a good habit we’d like to do in its place. If we want to reach a goal, what are the actions or thoughts we need to instill to make a good habit permanent and diminish the power of the bad habits?
Instead of avoiding all soda, commit to drinking water with meals.
Instead of focusing on the cookies you’re not going to eat, have some healthy options easily accessible when you get home.
Instead of calling yourself lazy, schedule time on your calendar to get your fitness done and pack some gym clothes in the car so you’re not left unprepared.
Trust me, you know what you need to know, and you know what you need to do. So to help you start actually doing something that will help you tune into yourself, let’s try an experiment that focuses on nourishing you.
Testing 1, 2, 3…
For this experiment, you are going to listen to your body for a few days and keep track of some things. Don’t change anything about your diet or exercise. Ignore all the chatter coming from the world at large.
Pay attention to your eating habits in an honest and nonjudgmental way. The idea is to be able to notice and name the following:
How much are you eating? Are you eating until satisfied, or do you feel stuffed?
How are you eating? Standing at the kitchen counter, or sitting down to a relaxed meal?
Why are you eating? Are you hungry? Bored? Thirsty? Lonely? Angry?
Keep a journal to write all your observations, thoughts and feelings down. No one else is going to look at this.
Did you notice what I did? Right now, WHAT you’re eating is not important, so no need to log every carrot stick or donut hole. Just focus for these few days on how you’re feeling.
How does your body feel?
How does this experiment make you feel?
Feeling resistant to trying something new? Then don’t try it, but I gotta say it’s a whole lot more fun to try to turn resistance into an obstacle course to conquer than to give in.
Remember, there’s no judgment! If you find yourself being hard on yourself while doing this, try imagining that your best friend is sharing this information with you. What would you tell him or her?
Just one step at a time
I bet with this baseline data you can identify for yourself, just by listening to your body and observing your habits, one little step that can move you closer towards your goal.
That one little step is how you start doing what you need to do for you.
There may be many things you see that need improvement. For now, just focus on ONE that you are fairly certain will be EASY-PEASY to do. If you’re not sure it will be easy-peasy, find something else that is and work on making that one tweak to your habits SO CONSISTENT that it becomes one of your impossible-to-sacrifice good habits.
Then try it again with something else you notice you could do just a little better, making sure it’s simple to do, and work to make it a consistent part of your life.
Becoming aware of your body, and how food and movement affect how you feel, can offer some powerful lessons. Let me know how the experiment worked for you. Feel free to comment with any insights you have as you try it.