So, I started a personal training company and proceeded to gain 40 lbs. (of fat)…
I wasn’t exactly a fan of getting my picture taken at this time so I had trouble finding many options. Above is a pic of me from a couple Halloweens ago with my wife, Deanna.
Let me reiterate, I STARTED A PERSONAL TRAINING COMPANY. I know how to workout! I know how to eat well! But I just wasn’t doing either. And it was showing. 🙁
It became painfully clear to me that the strategy of “how” to lose weight was only relevant to the extent that you actually applied it. In other words, the most successful diet and exercise programs are the ones that actually get followed. The ones people actually start and stick to. Period.
So what’s the take away? First, let’s not overwhelm ourselves. I knew how to workout and eat well all along, but I let the slippery slope of momentum let me put it off one more day, and one more week, and one more month… Why?
Well, as this snowball of momentum rolled down hill and grew in size, it slowly got more and more daunting. I just kept telling myself, “look, next Monday it’s on! Super low carb diet, workout 2x’s/ day…” And there were a number of Mondays that I did exactly that. And a few less Tuesdays. And not quite as many Wednesdays. And then I was back to putting it off another week, and so on… So, why so many false starts?
Why couldn’t I get back into the habit? Well, I actually stumbled onto the solution on accident. (I have since realized that there is actual science behind it in terms of our psychology around habits, but I didn’t know that then.) I just knew I really wanted to make a change and what I was doing wasn’t working. I eventually shifted my perspective from jumping right back in at 100 miles an hour and working out like a mad person, to taking baby steps. I simply made the following commitment: I will show up and walk on a treadmill for 8-10 minutes no less than 4 days per week. That was it. If I feel good and want to workout after that then great, but no promises.
But wait, what is that going to do? 8-10 minutes of walking?? Well, it turns out that I actually did CHOOSE to workout almost every day that I showed up. Why? Well, I was already there. And I was already warmed up, so why not just do a couple sets, right? But that’s not the point here and is a conversation for another day. For now, let’s address this seemingly insignificantly small step or just committing to showing up to walk.
New perspective. Picture this. Three identical triplet sisters graduate college at the same weight, 180 lbs, and have very similar lifestyles. Upon graduating they each move to different parts of the country, but keep everything else in their life constant save for one new habit each. Nothing major. Sister One, decides that after a long day at work she has earned an extra glass of white wine each night. Sister Two, also looking to unwind after work decides to take an extra 15 min. walk. Sister 3, doesn’t change her eating or exercise habits – (she just decides to spend that extra hour at work).
After just one year, they get back together for the first time for the Holiday’s and are surprised by what they see. Sister 1 is up to 190 lbs, while sister 2 is down to 170 lbs, and sister 3 is still at the same 180 lbs (but she did get a promotion at work)! This is the power of small changes to our habits. Successfully changing our body and our life isn’t usually about making radical, massive changes. Especially when those changes are for “someday” or “Tomorrow.” It is about making small changes, now, and being consistent with them.
Let’s flash forward a few more years. After that first year, Sister #1 loves going out to happy hour with the girls and now she’s started to add 1 more glass of wine each night. Sister #2 increases her walk to 30 minutes. Sister #3 is now even taking some work home to do each night. After 3 years now sister #1 is up to 250 lbs! While Sister #2 is down to her goal weight of 130 lbs and has actually had to increase her calorie intake so she doesn’t lose any more weight (doesn’t that sound like a welcome change – HAVING to eat more so you don’t lose too much weight)! (And Sister 3 still weighs the same 180 lbs, but now she is a VP of operations!)
Can you picture the 3 sisters? How different they look? Would an outsider have trouble believing that they are triplets? Again, behold the power of what Author Darren Hardy refers to as The Compound Effect and defines as “The principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, smart choices. What’s most interesting about this process to me is that, even though the results are massive, the steps, in the moment, don’t feel significant.”
Over the next 9 months I lost 30 of those 40 lbs.
Wait, what’s going on here? Well, turns out that, as Nir Eyal explains in his book Hooked, the first 2 steps to creating a new habit are:
1. Having a Trigger
2. Take Action.
Simple enough. In this case, the trigger for me was the fact that I didn’t feel good and I didn’t like the way I looked. Pretty strong triggers in my opinion. Still, the action wasn’t occurring consistently. Why not? Well turns out there are two keys to the action step.
2a) Motivation level. Check. I was motivated.
2b) Ease of doing the action. Ding ding ding! We have a winner!
My plan of restricting myself to nothing but grilled chicken and broccoli and working out 2 hours a day 7 days/ week was overwhelming. It was too much of a change – it wasn’t easy – and therefore it wasn’t happening.
Perfection and biting off too much at the beginning can be stressful and overwhelming to the point of sabotaging you. The good news as outlined with the 3 sisters above is that you don’t have to be perfect to get massive results. The new commitment/ perspective worked because it was so un-daunting that it was easy to follow through. I showed up every time.
Take away? Let’s just program 1 new habit that you know will move you toward your goals, and KNOW that you can commit to and follow through on FROM NOW ON. Is it just showing up and walking on a treadmill? Is it eating veggies at one more meal every day? Or running 1/2 mile more at the end of each workout? Whatever it is for your current fitness level and goal, pick SOMETHING that is easy enough that you KNOW you will do it.
Now, never leave the site of setting a goal without taking some kind of ACTION towards it.
So pick your 1 habit,
1) Tell someone about it, or at least write it down (feel free to post it in the comments section below – I’d love to hear what you choose!)
2) SCHEDULE time for it.
That is the first step in getting traction and getting one step closer to our long term goals.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” -John Maxwell
If you are having trouble deciding on your habits and need help choosing between a few, please don’t hesitate to ask. Also, I’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts in general on this post – do you like, dislike, want to hear more of etc.!
Also, if you know of anyone else that you think would like this, please share and forward along to friends!