The Fitness Lottery

3486755_sThe Mega Million, Pick 6, you name it, we’ve all thought about what life would be like if we hit the lottery.  The thrill of hitting it big would mean a whole new life as every fantasy would become reality….right? Ah, but then reality meets the facts.  Did you know that 90% of people who hit the lottery lose those winnings within the first five years? That’s an astounding figure and made me stop and ask WHY?

People say to me all the time, if I could just wake up one day really fit or with a six pack or with a flat stomach, then I know I could keep it that way.  Really?  So you’re telling me if you didn’t have to change anything at all about your lifestyle and yet you were somehow able to achieve your goal, you then would change your lifestyle so that you could maintain that goal? I’m not buying it.  And you know why? Because you’d miss the gift – the gift of learning.

Why is it you don’t hear that the almost 10 million millionaires in the U.S. lost their fortunes within five years of reaching their financial well-being.  The reason is that along the way, these people learned how to manage their money.  People who have achieved a healthier lifestyle or fitter body have done the exact same thing; they’ve learned how to manage their lifestyle so that they reach the health status they want.

But let’s go back to the millionaire, assuming this person did not fall into luck or wasn’t born into royalty.  This person woke up every day, like you and I, and worked hard and worked smart, and made decisions day in and day out that lead to wealth. Some decisions moved them ahead, other didn’t, but they kept at it, learning and tweaking until they reached their goal. Absent that learning process, how could anyone ever expect to be able to effectively manage that sum of money? To me, that’s why the lottery winner isn’t successful as that one-time win is just not sustainable. The winner just doesn’t have the experiences to help him or her maintain that financial security.

Now let’s consider the fitness enthusiast and let’s assume they weren’t God’s gift to mankind or some freak of nature.  This person woke up every day, like you and I, and worked hard and worked smart, and made decisions day in and day out that lead to a desirable physique.  Absent that learning experience, how could we ever expect to manage that body?  If you don’t have the experience to understand the work that goes into creating or maintaining that type of body, how could you ever expect to manage that lifestyle.  Even if you could hit the fitness lottery and wake up with the body of your dreams, you wouldn’t understand how to manage its success.

Here’s my simple tip on how to hit it big in the fitness category: whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to get there is what it takes to stay there. If don’t go on the journey to get there, I can promise you, you won’t be able to stay there.

Frustration, Learning’s Arch Nemesis

FrustratedBoyWithPencilI’ve come to realize that frustration and learning do not get along at all. They are total enemies; each other’s arch nemesis in fact. If you have a low patience threshold, it’s probably best you’re not in a position of teaching others. I recently had a chance to see this first hand in a different setting than fitness but the principles are all the same. Let me explain.

I watched someone teaching their child how to put a puzzle together. The first three minutes seemed exciting and the parent was full of pride as she was empowering her child with pattern/shape recognition and problem solving skills. Five minutes in though, the parent clearly became frustrated when the child couldn’t match the pieces together. Suddenly, the magic stopped, the child stopped learning and the parent picked up her phone to check her email or send a text.  A sad sight, although I’d imagine quite common.  

Who’s at fault here and who will likely suffer? Is it better for someone else to teach your child rather than yourself? What if I, as a Movement Coach, got frustrated with my client’s inability to pick things up quickly? I don’t necessarily have the right answers but I believe we should ask questions to stimulate thought.  The fact is, when you start getting frustrated, learning tends to die. And that’s just sad. If we aren’t learning, we aren’t moving forward, we aren’t evolving, we aren’t building on success.

While we are all accountable for our actions, I do believe our high-speed, high-strung culture is much to blame. We’ve literally been trained to be impatient, to do life with a simple click. Ordering food, buying clothing, renting movies, hiring a sitter, housekeeper, or a personal trainer can all be done from the comfort of your gluteus maximus.  Not only is all this at your disposal but also when you want it, how you want it, where you want it and at the price you’re willing to pay for it. But when that call drops or the Wi-Fi is down – watch out! We’re annoyed!

I’d like to share a simple approach that works for me when I teach people how to move. First things first, I remember that we never stop learning the way we started learning in kindergarten. If you were in a room next to one of my sessions, you might think I’m speaking to a child. While I might be sometimes, I teach my adult clients the same way I teach my adolescent clients. Everything starts with the fundamentals and based on the individual’s level of progress, I tweak or enhance the challenge to keep that person at their threshold and constantly progressing. That’s so much more important than just completing a checklist of movements or activities.

When we take the time to allow ourselves to learn, to open ourselves up to not getting everything in an instant, that’s when change happens and that’s when we move ahead.

Facing Downtime

downtimeLiving in a hectic culture makes downtime seem like a bad idea.  Especially when your Facebook friends are posting their personal adventures that seem more interesting and exciting than you perceive yours.  Is downtime an opportunity to further enjoy and enhance life?  Maybe not if you don’t want to hear what’s on your mind and become your own solution to improving it.

I’m finding there are lots of people who avoid downtime, not intentionally, but subconsciously, I think.  They keep themselves so busy to avoid listening to what their minds say when things are quiet.  I was curious as to why, so I started asking them.  Lo and behold, the people I’ve spoken to are literally afraid of what their minds will tell them.  They fear their self limiting beliefs will manifest in self destructive behaviors that will derail their health and fitness efforts.  If this is the case, isn’t the solution in the situation? 

I once heard about this revolutionary concept of listening – ha ha!  But not just listening; active listening.  Really consciously taking the time to HEAR what your mind is saying.  So I started journaling what my mind told me and highlighted the things inconsistent with what I place value on in my life.  For example, I don’t always feel I have enough energy for what I do for a living. The word enough is a relative term, as people always tell me they wish they had my energy. But when your passion is to relentlessly uplift and encourage others to reach their fullest potential, the energy required is immense. So what’s the solution to my situation?

If my body and mind are telling me I don’t have enough energy, I need to behave myself differently if I expect a different result.  That said, I started laying my clothes out and cooking on Sundays for the week.  This investment of time affords me those extra precious moments of sleep.  The more I sleep, the more authentic energy I have, which is different than drinking a cup of coffee (dark roast from Starbucks, just in case you’re wondering 🙂 )

If you’re on the go-go-go train, you may not have even made it to the end of this post BUT in the event you have, I’ll tell you my lucky lottery numbers — just kidding, they don’t work!  Take some time this weekend and schedule time to do NOTHING, seriously, like not even watch TV or text or update your status on Facebook.  If your house is hectic, lock yourself in the bathroom, but find some time to tune into that twelve pound head of yours. When your mind starts talking, start actively listening and jotting down what it’s telling you.  The affirming thoughts are excellent and will likely continue driving positive behaviors.  The negative thoughts require some behavior change.  Focus on those changes that can only be made when you permit yourself to face your downtime. 

Be good to yourself and be well. 

Pay Your Cravings No Mind

20893463_sIn an environment that’s so distracted, out of focus and out of touch with oneself, I consider it a skill to be aware of what’s going on within our own bodies.  Our body, however, has a variety of ways of letting us know what it wants and what it needs. One way our body communicates with us is through cravings. 

A craving is defined as a powerful desire for something. Unfortunately, mainstream media and medical opinions have demonized cravings when it relates to our diet.It’s as if we’ve been hard wired with a deficit to crave all the things we should never eat. Consider instead that it’s possible your body is so complex and sophisticated it has a way of getting a simple message to our brains that it is in need of something.  Is it bad if we crave something salty, something sweet or a little bit of both?

There’s a craving you give into every day without thought and without guilt because your perspective isn’t tainted. When your body is inadequately hydrated, you start to crave water. But don’t you dare give into that craving, it’s a trap, your body is really trying to destruct itself.  How silly?!  Why are we so quick to trust ourselves when we’re thirsty but not hungry? 

I believe that marketing science will have you believe it’s deceptive messaging so they can get you to BUY something.  The motivation there is financial and not on your total health and well being. Why do we need a supplement that we can sprinkle on our food to limit hunger or push fats or carbs through our systems? Is this yet another way to bring us further out of touch with ourselves?!?! Don’t confuse my message with cravings driven by our emotions to fill a void in our lives. That is an entirely different story. 

For the next week, try eating and drinking intuitively. If you listen, your body will tell you when it needs something salty, something sweet, something fatty, or a glass of water. But whatever you’re craving, be sure it’s authentic. Something sweet is a piece of fruit before reaching for a Hershey’s bar with PGPR, an emulsifier used by chocolate makers to reduce their COST of raw materials. If salty, use real sea salt on your meal as opposed to half a bag of pretzels made with enriched wheat flour.

Take the craving for what it is, a signal.  Respect the message, make a good choice and enjoy life.  Be well.