Did you know that the more you talk about a problem the more likely you are to stay fixated on the problem?
And the more you talk about change, the more likely you are to actually change.
Ever since high school I noticed that I wasn't built like many of my friends. I had a short torso a wide waist and narrow hips. I've gone back through old journals where I lament to my boyfriend at the time about my strange shape (and he agreed with me!) Sometimes I wish I could go back and hug 16 year old me and tell her not to worry. It didn't stop when I got out of high school and it carried on for years. My rolls, my stomach, I obsessed over them. If only I had wider hips, if only I had different genetics and this went on and on.
I see it with my clients often. They look in the mirror at the gym and take stock in their flaws.
"These saddlebags off of my hips are gross".
"Ugh, I hate this roll in my stomach."
"I missed my workout yesterday, I'm so lazy".
First of all it saddens me to know that we're picking ourselves apart like this. It causes so much stress and it doesn't help anything. By continuing to focus on what's "wrong" we can never move forward. It's like "Inception" when Leonardo DiCaprio's character ends up back in the same place with every dream meanwhile frustrating the hell out of everyone around him. Your supposed flaws, that's Mal, telling you to stay in the nightmare of self-consciousness and self loathing. You're "incepting" yourself.
So how the heck do you move on, start actually taking action and making a change?
First of all, it helps to look at the meaning behind the words. You're saying you hate your love handles or saddlebags but what does that really mean?
Well, Jen, it means that I'm fat and gross, right? Yes, and it probably means you're a terrible person too. I'M KIDDING! I don't really know what it means but I can take a few guesses and you can dig a little deeper to find out what it means for you.
Sometimes it helps to skip ahead to the person without said supposed flaws. What's she like? She's probably, happy, confident and healthy. She doesn't waste her time worrying about her body because she's too busy living her life.
On the surface, you're focused on changing your appearance, but really it's out of a desperate desire to FEEL differently. Once you've visited your future self, focus on the changes that you could make to become that woman. If you pass the mirror in the process, resist the urge to be mean to present you. You can cheer present you on, or you can turn your ass around and go find something more productive to do.
Remember, the longer you sit there staring at what you don't like about yourself the longer it'll take to change.
Focusing on the problem = stagnation
Focusing on actions and change = progress
Easier said than done, right? It's true, these changes are simple but not easy. Start by being aware of when you're fixating on a problem. Whenever you notice it happening, pivot and think about what changes you'd like to make.
Too tired to go to the gym? Focus on getting more sleep by making sure you put your phone away 1 hour before bed.
Don't like the way your clothes fit? Maybe it's time to address foods that might be leaving you feeling bloated or maybe it's time to buy clothes that suit your body type well or both.
That's all I have for you today. Go forth and kick some butt!
I have to admit, sometimes I'm embarrassed to work in the fitness world. Many of the messages put out there by other fitness professionals although well intended are quite frankly fucking with people. It's a slippery slope because we're here to help people and in order to let them know we can help, we point out their flaws and play to their fears. Often we make the mistake of assuming that clients want/need to lose weight. As I've trained more and more people and reflected on my own struggles I've come to realize most people want to FEEL better and that may or may not mean dropping body fat. Recently I saw an Instagram post from a local gym that got me all fired up.
It was an infographic titled "WHY DROP 10-15 POUNDS". Reasons included:
1. You'll move better
2. You'll feel more confident about yourself
3. You'll have more energy to do the things you like
4. It's better for your joints and bones
5. You'll have better skin
6. You'll sleep better
7. Lower the risk of getting sick
8. It reduces stress and anxiety
9. It improves creativity and productivity
10. You might live longer
Perhaps at first glance this all makes great sense and maybe you agree with all of these statements.
I see it and I want to go all Xena Warrior Princess on whoever thought this was a productive message to put out into the world.
So many of the women I know and clients I train are in a CONSTANT struggle to lose 10-15 lbs. They get on the scale every week if not every day in the hopes of getting to a magical number that they have deemed low enough. They cry, they stress, they grab the rolls of their stomachs and dismay at the back fat folding over the top of their bras. They kill themselves in the gym, fight hunger all day, and spend hours if not days feeling guilty if they miss a gym session or overeat.
Maybe the author of this infographic ASSUMED that the people that didn't need to lose 10-15lbs would realize this message wasn't meant for them. He/she must've assumed that whoever they were speaking to would pursue weight loss in a healthy fashion. The reality is, if done without overall healthy and wellness in mind, weight loss isn't always positive. This message says to EVERYONE "You should lose 10-15 lbs" and then it doesn't provide any productive advice for how that is to be done. If you starve yourself, over exercise, deprive yourself of rest you may lose weight but you will not reap the benefits promised.
I have one suggestion that can unfuck the infographic: change the title.
"Why Prioritize Your Health"
This way we can focus on the actions that will help people thrive. Let's put our attention to practices that have a positive effect on our lives such as moving our bodies, sleeping, eating nourishing foods and doing things that bring us joy. Let's stop pushing fat loss as a solution to our problems and instead help people care for themselves.
Agree? Disagree? Please contribute to the discussion and post in the comments.
What my clients are saying about me:
"Now that I've worked with Jen I see the value of having a trainer. She helps keep me on track and focused. I'm a busy mom and it's nice to have someone I trust give me my work outs. No more researching workouts in magazines or instagram. I get my own personalized program that works with my schedule and helps me achieve my goals faster."