The problem with the Monday mindset

UnknownThat’s it!!! Starting this Monday I’m going to…stop eating fried foods, stop smoking, stop having a drink to wind down at night, stop watching reality TV, stop eating after 7pm, stop going to bed so late, etc. Our list of health to-do’s goes on and on but they don’t ever seem to leave our agenda. The problem isn’t the list, the challenge is our mindset and how we’re thinking about making change.

When we prize Monday as the day we will stop engaging certain behaviors, we go into it with a mindset of perfectionism, with no room for error. We expect that we will fully disengage from the old, comfortable habit with no setbacks. Then, when we “cheat” or “fail”, we completely re-engage the old behavior with hopes for better luck starting over next Monday. What a viciously draining and defeating way to approach positive change. This approach is guaranteed to fail or at best, it’ll be miserable.

To give ourselves an edge on change, let’s build success into the process by planning for setbacks, because they will happen. So rather than 100% adherence, lets shoot for 80/20. Making the right choice 80% of the time offers steady progress while carving out a little room for being human. This approach takes the sting out of the perceived pain of making change consistent with who we want to be.

Rather than being perfect, try being patient.

The Power of Frustration

frustratI worked out every day this week, didn’t cheat on my diet once and I still haven’t lost a pound. I’ve been stretching my hips every day for two weeks and my back still hurts. I’ve been practicing my short game on the range all summer but my golf game is not reflecting it. Any of these scenarios can cause frustration but beware, this state of mind may be more harmful than you realize.

Thinking, speaking, walking, worrying, lifting, you name it, everything you do requires energy, including feeling frustrated. However, energy is a finite resource and we have to be cautious of how we spend it. If you only had $100 of energy to spend each day, how much would you allot for frustration?

In addition to its energy cost, frustration itself does not offer any solutions to your perceived problems. All challenges come along with an opportunity to makes changes consistent with who, where and what you want to be. Think constructively and ask: What can I do to enhance my current situation? Then, focus your efforts on becoming your own solution.
When we become frustrated with ourselves, we must realize there’s a gap between our expectations and reality. One of those can be adjusted — and it’s not reality. Adjusting your expectations doesn’t mean lowering them either; it means managing them better. Properly managed expectations pair very well with humility, honesty and patience:

  • Be humble – there may be more to the weight loss equation than diet and exercise.
  • Be honest – stretching for two weeks can’t unwind a lifetime of habits.
  • Be patient – each missed shot brings you closer to your ideal swing.

It’s ok to visit frustration; she’s the other side of joy. It’s not ok stay with her; she’ll introduce you to disappointment and sadness. When you leave, resilience will be by your side.

The hardest thing about working out isn’t the workout

attachmentIt’s Sunday night, you’re alarm is set for 5am, you’re determined to get to the gym before work, your alarm goes off and you don’t budge. What happened? You were so stoked to get back into your ideal routine.

Meet your emotional mind, the part of your brain that wants to feel good. It’s so comfy and warm under the blankets, your bedroom is the perfect temperature and everyone else is sleeping in the house. Conditions are just right for hitting the snooze button and wishing yourself better luck tomorrow.

If life were lived according to your rational mind, things would be a bit different: your body would be lean, your savings account would be plentiful, you’d read the morning paper and you’d get about 10x more done each day than you are today. And all of this may be possible if you had no emotions.

Getting lean would be simple if ice cream didn’t exist, saving money would be a cinch if you didn’t love buying new shoes and you’d be up on world news if a long morning shower didn’t feel so good. Your emotional mind wants to be instantly gratified while your rational mind is interested in long-term satisfaction.

The longstanding debate between the emotional and rational minds: Would you rather feel good now or feel great later? Given we’re hard wired for survival, our brain is biased towards certainty and predictability so the emotional mind tends to get its’ way. However, this doesn’t change the fact that you still have a choice.

Want to see what happens when your rational mind gets its way? How your life will change? How fulfilled you’ll feel? Here’s a simple strategy:

– Get two piggy banks.

– Mark one rational and one emotional.

– Every time you make a rational decision, put a coin in the rational piggy bank.

– Every time you make an emotional decision, put a coin in the emotional piggy bank.

– Whichever has more coins in it at the end of the day, the week, the year…WINS!

Emotional decisions feel good now but often lead to feelings of dissatisfaction. Rational decisions hurt now but are an investment into our future selves, which leads to deep feelings of self esteem, respect and worth.

Light em up!

Light Em UpHow do you help someone lose weight who’s tried every diet under the sun? Light em up! How do you have that difficult conversation to break someone out of their vicious cycle? Light em up! How do you guide someone from a sense of worthlessness to a state of worthiness? Light em up!

People come to me for all sorts of goals: tone up, improve comfort, enhance performance, you name it, if it involves helping someone get where they want to be, I’m on it. Physical movement is a part of how I help someone reach their goals but my strategy is a little different.

My conditioning strategy always starts at the level of the spirit. When you take the time to get to know someone and you light their spirit on fire, you help them feel whole, which authentically boosts their physical capacity beyond what they thought they were capable of achieving.

Call it a back door strategy if you will but when I light em up it sets them loose and I just get out of the way.

“Mike has helped me see that I need to take the package deal and not just treat the body, but the mind and spirit too so I can reach the goals I set for myself in a lasting way.” Karen Sasway

For a little extra boost:

Site of Pain vs. Source of Pain

imagesYou’re in the market for a house, you step inside and you immediately notice cracks in the walls. First thought? Foundation—yikes!

You’re in the market for a used car, you notice uneven wear on the tires. First thought? Alignment—whoa!

You’re feeling knee pain, you see a variety of doctors/therapists and they all treated? First thought? Your knee—ouch!

It’s interesting when buying a house or a car, we observe the damage (site of pain) but also consider the underlying cause (source of pain). However, when it comes to our body’s, we become fixated on the site, rarely, if ever finding the source of pain.

The body has been broken down into parts within our medical system, which has both pros and cons. It’s great because we’ve learned so much about specific parts/systems of the body. On the other hand, this structure of learning has limited our abilities to view the body as a whole and affects how we think about the body related to pain.

Back to the knee for example, it’s part of a team, a chain reaction. It lives between the foot and the hip. Say you sprain your ankle and lose an ability to “connect” to the ground. The lack of motions available through the foot/ankle must be made up elsewhere and the next in line is the knee. The knee is really great at performing knee functions but not knee and foot / ankle functions. Over time, the knee is likely to become agitated and when it does, it has all your attention. You can see how treating the knee (site of pain) will take the focus away from the ankle (source of pain).

In short, where it hurts is rarely why it hurts.

Choosing Your Focus

Choosing your focus
Is where you are today where you want to be? Is there something you’d like to change about your current status? We tend to associate so much pain with becoming who we want to be. That’s because we choose to focus on the pain.

Have you ever considered changing your focus to help you reach your preferred status? Our never-enough culture certainly impacts our focus but we still have a choice.

Never enough: I have a really long commute and the pay is not great
Enough: Thankfully, I have a job that supports my family

Never enough: I lost 35 pounds but I still have a long way to go
Enough: I lost 35 pounds by showing up and giving it my best

Never enough: My spouse is so difficult to get along with
Enough: My spouse is under a lot of stress and I’m her primary supporter

Never enough: I don’t necessarily like living this way but it’s who I am
Enough: This change is challenging but I’m worth the effort

Never enough: My back still hurts after stretching every day this week
Enough: My back still hurts but I’ve learned what’s not working for me

“Thinking” enough leads to “feeling” enough leads to “being” enough. It all starts in your mind first. Choose your focus. You are only a slight shift of your mindset away from reaching your full potential.

One’s a Dead End…

dead-endYou have two choices — but one’s a dead end:

1. Take the path of least resistance


2. Address the big rock

A big rock is anything that keeps you from reaching your full potential or enjoying a high quality of life. It could be a hectic schedule…do you live on coffee to get through or work hard to rearrange it? It could be that difficult conversation…do you numb the pain through self medicating or square up and resolve it? It could be that discomfort you’ve been feeling…do you continue pretending it doesn’t exist or get it checked out? Do you go left or make right?

It’s always “easier” to follow the path of least resistance but it comes at a cost. Once you start getting comfortable on this path, you offend the part of your brain that tells you you’re worthy of love and belonging. Over time, it becomes all the more tempting to check out and disengage. Before you know it, you’re no longer the driver of your life, you’re the passenger watching time pass you by. Worst of all, you start believing this is all life has to offer. This is the chain reaction effect of choosing the path of least resistance — it’s a dead end.

The alternative is to address the big rock: change your schedule, have the difficult conversation and get things checked out. Fear is built into all of these tasks but mustering up the courage and confidence will make feel whole. Through your actions you communicate you’re worthy of love and belonging. You’ll find yourself engaged and fully connected to every aspect of your life. Before you know it, not only will you find yourself back in the drivers seat, you’ll be advising others how to get back into their driver seat. Best of all, you start believing this isn’t even all life has to offer. This is the chain reaction effect of addressing the big rocks in your life — it’s a gateway to reaching your preferred status.

Important matters in life are rarely urgent so there’s no rush in making this decision but choose yourself in the process. Be well.