On Wednesday morning we started a new Slim and Strong program. A few new faces, many regulars and a few I haven’t seen in ages.
I’m always curious to hear why people sign up or come back. I also want to know what their intentions are for the month. These goals and intentions are typically very much the same – they want to get leaner, stronger, more defined and toned, and have someone hold them accountable for their food and exercise choices and ensure they do the work.
They join the program for the exercise and nutrition aspects. Yet what many don’t realize is that the work really happens somewhere else entirely. Focusing on the external factors of health only works in a perfect world and that’s not what we live in. We deal with long work days, too little sleep, confrontations, struggles of all sorts and challenges that regularly pull us out of our routine. In a perfect world without stress you can easily eat regular meals and exercise well – assuming you have the tools and knowledge.
Many people wait to sign up for Slim and Strong until they think they have the perfect setup: no upcoming distractions from travel, no holidays, no weddings to attend that would force them to drink, no other external things pulling them out of their perfect world. They start the program and then, if something unexpected happens and their routine gets challenged, they revert back to the behaviors that created the weight and health issues in the first place.
I have had a participant come back time after time. She always makes great progress. She eats clean, attends all workouts, sends me her food diaries and plans ahead. She sets goals and puts to use all she’s learned. Yet, whenever there is a work trip scheduled or her boss demands insane work hours she throws the whole program overboard. If she misses just one session, she will miss the rest. Her all or nothingness is the road block. She believes that she can make changes only in a perfect world. That perfect world only lasts 2-4 weeks at best. What’s really holding her back? It’s not the fact that she doesn’t know how to eat or work out. She doesn’t plan ahead for times when she knows she’s challenged the most. That’s why she can make progress only certain times of the month and then she undoes it twice as fast during the stressful periods.
She has all the knowledge about nutrition. She knows how to work out. She has the means and tools to make things happen. Yet, she’s missing one crucial ingredient: The realization that she needs to learn how to handle the stressful times. The realization that change happens when the world is NOT perfect.
She had never realized that her focus shouldn’t be on diet and exercise during the easy times but that in fact she would have to learn to handle the stressful times and incorporate them. Instead she used the stressful times as an excuse to abandon all her best efforts. Once she tackled her issues by developing strategies for her troubling times, the lasting changes started happening. She stocked her work fridge with foods for late nights at the office. She even bought a NutriBullet for her office and made smoothies instead of ordering greasy dinners from the steakhouse (because her company paid for it…). She stocked her fridge and freezer and bought Quest bars for work trips. She also asked the hotels in which she was staying to take all the sweets out of the room’s fridge so she wouldn’t be tempted. She planned ahead knowing her weaknesses instead of using them as excuses for ‘losing it’.
Look at the people on the show ‘The Biggest Loser’. They get to spend months in an environment that is completely controlled: hours and hours of workouts every day, incredible trainers and motivators, healthy food options available, limited contact to the outside world… They’re basically living in a bubble. Some of you might consider it the perfect world. However, have you noticed what happens once they participants return to their homes? They encounter the same old triggers, the same people and environment they used to live in before they got on the show. At home is when the real work happens. How do you respond to the way people treat you even though you have changed? How do you deal with the temptations that are still there even though you eat differently now? How do you fit in as a changed person into an environment that hasn’t changed? How do you keep it together without being pulled towards your old habits and behaviors? We all know what happens to many participants. Many gain back the weight they lost, some gain even more than they lost, others a little and yet a few keep it up. It comes down to how they choose to respond to the environment and to their own internal dialogue.
In essence, you don’t need a perfect world to change. You can lose body fat even if you have 3 weddings to go to next week. You can work out even if you only have one hour in the next week free to do so. You can eat clean even though you have friends visiting you in town and they want to go to restaurants that offer less than ideal options. How? You DECIDE to do it. The only person that gets you in trouble is you. It’s the voice in your head that makes you believe that you can’t do something or that you just have to cave in. In fact, that’s just a lazy voice that wants to sabotage you.
Don’t wait for the perfect setup.
Stop listening to the BS in your head and just do what you have to do to feel and look great. You already know how. Eat clean. Work out. Be nice to yourself. Just freaking do it! You’re not living your life to please others or to please that lazy voice in your head. Your job is simply to take care of yourself.
Happy Easter! Now drop the chocolate bunny ears and reach for the colored eggs. Protein Baby!