Updated: Feb 12, 2019
In 2000, I started my career as a personal trainer and for all intents and purposes, I was addressing people at superficial level through diet and exercise. Eight years into my career, I was becoming disenchanted with the physical and tactical approach towards health and happiness. It seemed that even the clients who were “doing the right things” were still having difficulty reaching their goals. Not to mention, they weren’t particularly enthused with the process of self-care as it was viewed as sacrificial, painful and a grind. No-pain-no-gain, right?
In 2009, I joined a mentorship called GIFTwith the hopes of learning how the human body moved and while I definitely learn that, I got much more than I bargained for. The two “gifts” I received were: 1. I learned how to think for myself instead of following prescribed protocols (doing what “they” say to do) and 2. I learned the Body is inextricably connected to the Mind and driven by the Spirit. Between the development of a thought process, paired with the understanding of the interconnected nature of the MindBodySpirit, it led to a discovery that flipped my world upside-down: While people were coming to me to enhance their Body, it was their Mind holding them back and their Spirit that was suffering. Once I saw this, I couldn’t unsee it and my approach to client sessions dramatically changed.
“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
I began to wonder why if our Mind was holding back our Body, were we spending so much time conditioning our Body first. Eventually, I realized we do it because it's familiar, NOT because it's effective. We do it because...
· Everyone else is doing it (we’re jumping off the bridge because our friends are--mom was so observant :-)
· It's safer than diving into the inner world of our Mind, full of racing thoughts, painful feelings and limiting beliefs
· It's easier to change our eating and moving habits than it is to acknowledge the imbalances in our lives that led to our symptoms
· The tactics of doing things are far more instantly gratifying than the thinking required to develop a strategy centered on long-term satisfaction
“No problem can be solved from the consciousness that created it.” Albert Einstein
This all led to the creation of the experience I deliver today called a Mind-First Approach®. In short, I work through the Mind to uplift the Spirit, which transforms the Body.
Why condition the Mind-First®? Because that’s where all change happens! We rarely do anything without first thinking about it. You haven’t ever found yourself working out at the gym without thinking about it first. By the time you reached the gym, you’ve made so many decisions that led you to show up there. You thought about your values, how you measure success, what you believe about people who prioritize self-care, how you want to look this summer, being in good health for your grandkids, not wanting to be a burden on anyone else as you age, the fear of being rejected if you just let go and on and on we go.
As I’ve gotten comfortable hanging out in the “Mind,” I’ve discovered people are their own worst enemies, often don’t think very highly of themselves, don’t feel worthy of the effort it takes to become successful, are scared to fail and are full of doubt, feel separate from the world and are always trying to prove their worth, have no boundaries or an awareness of their personal values, start their days without intention or meaning and get caught up thinking if others like them, then they’ll like themselves. This mindset is unlikely to lead to your goals and is why it’s imperative the fitness industry begin conditioning the Mind-First.
“Until you create a Revolution in your Mind, you’ll never see an evolution in your Body.” Michael Rizk
My goal is to help people get their “Mind on their side” and I do that by uplifting their human Spirit through the forces of encouragement and empowerment. It seems we stopped being encouraged somewhere around middle school and probably because we’re difficult to be around during puberty and/or maybe because our parents didn’t often encourage themselves and couldn’t pay-it-forward. Either way, when encouragement stops, so does growth and if you’ve not been empowered to encourage (inspire) yourself, you may have stopped “growing” a long time ago. Good news is, the brain is always ready for and craving encouragement and can be taught how to encourage itself.
When it comes to empowerment (inspiring people to show up for themselves), I think the biggest challenge is it’s “bad for business.” If you work generously to empower people, at some point, they’ll no longer “need” you and as a professional, your quality of life is tied to your income. A true dilemma! This really comes back to how success is being measured. If it’s by the number of clients you have and income you collect, then by default, you’re operating in your own best interests and not the interests of your clients. In essence, you have no exit strategy for your clients, no bridge to transform the relationship from a codependent to independent one. You’ll just keep resigning them until they decide they no longer want to keep paying you. A lose-lose situation, at best. However, if success is measured by someone’s ability to stand on their own two feet once you’re gone, it fundamentally changes how you engage with them.
Of course, I’m speaking from personal experience. I had all those fears thinking if I were to empower everyone, I’d lose all my clients. Yet, at a gut level, I somehow knew I had to do it, I had to trust and believe that placing the needs of others ahead of my own would somehow include me as well. Despite the near nervous breakdown I had, I went on and did what I sought out to do. My selfless plea was: “Give me the next year of your life and I’ll share everything I know about living your best life so you can be successful far beyond your encounter with me.” At the year mark, more often than not, most people could have left because I taught them everything I knew but they chose to stay because I treated them like family, instead of as a “client.” Little did I realize that uplifting others in this way doesn’t push them away, it draws them in. Empowering people has an expansive effect on one’s Spirit, in effect, your believing in them causes them to believe in themselves and being witness to that experience has to be the eighth wonder of the world.
“Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” Tom Peters
As someone comes to love and believe in themself, it’s not really surprising that their Body and physical reality begins reflecting that energy. It’s not uncommon to see a client who came for weight loss ends up getting a promotion at work, starts a side-hustle driven by passion, drops their inner critic and embraces self-compassion, extends and receives forgiveness, restores the family unit, explores a hobby and prioritizes recreational activities, goes for a walk because she enjoy’s nature not because it burns calories and intentionally knocks one item off their bucket list each year. And as a result of their happiness, their waistline follows.
When you treat the Whole Person: MindBodySpirit®, the potential for healing and possibilities for transformation are infinite. Sure, you meet in a physical capacity but the encounter is almost entirely spiritual because it’s driven the only thing anyone really ever wants: Love. When you help some establish a relationship with Love, the best thing you can do is just get out of the way.
“Two roads diverged in the woods and I--I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”Robert Frost
Click here to listen to a recent podcast I did where I share all the latest strategies and techniques I'm employing to condition the WholePerson: MindBodySpirit!