This week, I’ll be presenting a virtual masterclass on lifestyle change to a private community on Facebook. Seeing as how, that is our take on the term “revolution” (a dramatic and wide-reaching change), I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you this week. If you’re in a place in life where you need to change, I hope this gives you some ideas to work with.
- Determine the “bottom”: If weight loss is your goal, you have to decide when you can no longer “be” in the place you’re in now. Clients who treat their goal as “it would be nice” if I lost weight aren’t nearly as driven to succeed as someone who refuses to be their current weight any longer. The number itself is arbitrary. For one person, being 20 pounds overweight is a deal breaker and that is their “bottom“. For another person, it’s 217 pounds overweight with a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes and the threat of an amputated limb. Between those two individuals is a myriad of examples of people who make the decision that where they are today is “as bad as it will get.” This is the bottom. Change starts here.
- The bottom does not have to be a dramatic place or position. There was a meme floating around the internet sometime back that made the claim (I’m paraphrasing) that no one has ever made significant change in their life without getting tired of their own bullshit. While it isn’t always the case, change starts when we realize that we often sabotage our own efforts for success. Yes, outside influence can affect us and yes, sometimes those closest to us can be the greatest saboteurs. For some people, they need a health diagnosis before it shakes them back to reality to reverse their circumstances. For someone else, they need to look in the mirror on just the right day and state: “That’s it. I’ve had enough. I have a goal and I’m not going to stop until I reach it.” During my days as a drug addict, I had friends who found the bottom because of a jail sentence, a potential overdose or the loss of a job. Every person is motivated to change by a completely different set of circumstances and no two people will be alike.
- “You’re not in enough pain to change”: This is a concept that even my therapist and I are on the same page about. If you are resistant to change, you may fault yourself for not being motivated enough or have enough willpower to resist temptation leading you off course. A counterargument is that you are not at the point where the pain you’re in is unbearable enough for you to start prioritizing different actions. Coincidentally, long before my therapist said those words to me, I had written a blog with the same sentiments.
- Be uncomfortable. One of my favorite coaches in the industry, Leigh Peele, shared this thought on a podcast we did awhile back. I’ve always loved the way that Leigh views the world and works to meet people where they are on a spectrum of change. She believes (I wholeheartedly agree) that you need to get acclimated to the fact that the change you often want in life requires a great degree of consistent discomfort. Once you embrace that fact, change becomes easier to implement and stick to.
- Find an outlet. There are some aspects of change that seem so simple in theory that we often overlook them. Many people, when struggling to improve areas of their life, often resort to outlets for stress and grief that are counterproductive to their goals. For instance, a person who has spent the better part of their lives in a cycle of a yo-yo dieting may only have food as an outlet for their emotions. So, when things go wrong (and they do), food is the comfort. It is the security blanket. However, the way food is being utilized here runs counter to a weight loss plan. Having a non-food related outlet for those emotions can be immensely valuable to this person. That may mean starting an exercise program to relieve stress or learning a new craft/hobby. 2020 has been a fantastic year for showing us how we handle stress under the consistent strain of a pandemic. Hopefully, it taught lessons of how not to react when situations are out of our control.
- Get support. If there is one thing I constantly try to hammer home to my clients, it’s the fact that change rarely happens in isolation. We need help. If you need exercise in your life, you might need a personal trainer. If you have mental hurdles to overcome, you may need a qualified therapist. If you don’t know how to manage food, you might consider hiring a dietitian. Don’t discredit free resources like social media support groups or 12-step support groups. Having the influence and guidance of people who may have less emotional attachment to you can give you some valuable insight into how others made change work for them.
- The tools evolve. If you embark on a life altering journey of change now, the tools you need to get started may not be what you use 6 months from now. Understanding that as your mindset and environment change around you, you will need different guidance and strategies to overcome the next hurdle is crucial for your success. Think of it like dieting. While the ketogenic diet might help you lose the first 20 pounds, you may need to experiment with plant-based dieting for the next 20 pounds and intuitive eating for the last 20. Believing that only one diet can solve the weight loss riddle in your life, with your specific set of challenges may be a short-sighted approach. Along the way, you’ll be learning things about food that show how and why certain foods behave in a specific way with your body.
- Be patient. Be forgiving. I don’t like to lean to the side of woo but, any change worth making is going to take a while in coming to fruition. It’s one thing to make a conscious choice to change, it’s another to actually reach your goals. Some situations will never be removed from your life. If you’re learning how to overcome grief or trauma, you may always have to manage those circumstances so you can reduce the negative impacts they have on your life. If you have a significant amount of weight to lose, you may always have to be conscious of how your relationship with food affects your mind and your body. Since we always need food, a more caring approach to how you eat will be needed. When things don’t go as planned (which will happen more often than not), you’ll need to remind yourself that lasting change works on a spectrum that may feel like one step forward then two steps back. If you have a day where things go awry, a dose of forgiveness will trump a dose of shame any day of the week. We’re in this for the long haul and the journey towards self improvement (physically or mentally) constantly evolves.
- Perfection is a myth. I wrote about this recently and I have to repeat it. At RevFit, we don’t coach perfect people, we don’t have perfect outcomes, and we don’t lead perfect well-adjusted lives 365 days of the year. We take people as they are and we help them understand that small changes matter, habits can be stacked and work in our long-term favor, and everyone makes mistakes. We try to keep reality and results closely intertwined. Long.Live.Progress.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t credit the changes I’ve made and still make in my life that allow me to live something closer to where and who I want to be. No matter what changes you need to make, these steps can help.
And maybe, you’re someone like me and you know that change must happen because you’re a role model to someone out there who’s watching.
Make them proud.
“We Make Great People Greater”