A couple of months ago, I read a book which talked about the importance of paying closer attention to people. Many of you will have likely come across the notion that when we are in conversation with others, that we should be listening with the intention of understanding, not listening just so we can respond.
For the record, I struggle with this.
This particular book was called “Attention Pays” and if you’re in a service industry, it’s a recommended read. Hell, if you just want to have better relationships in general, it’s probably worth reading.
What it reminded me of was the fact that I am easily distracted. My mind moves at what seems like 100mph and I frequently feel like I need to write down mental notes throughout the day lest I forget something I need to do.
Here at RevFit, I have a laptop stand that is set up and historically, I would keep a laptop on there so I would have quick access to incoming emails and Facebook messages that may need immediate attention during the workday.
As a result of that quick access, I would drift back and forth to my laptop during client sessions just making sure I wasn’t missing anything. So, eyes on a computer meant eyes not on the clients. I was aware of it, but I wasn’t changing it.
The book reminded me to be more focused on what was happening in front of (and around) me. I took my laptop down and stuck it in my office so I was less inclined to be drawn back to that addictive cycle of constantly checking for updates.
By and large, the way the business operates is relatively seamless when all pieces are in motion: employee morale is up, client retention is great, and there aren’t a lot of things I can complain about.
But that doesn’t mean we (or I) don’t have room for improvement.
In this week’s article, I wanted to help you fine-tune areas you can improve on as well. There will be questions you might consider asking yourself and areas I wanted to offer some insight on.
The longer I’m in this business, the more I find that answering tough questions leads to better outcomes.
In the words of the late Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
-By what do you measure your progress with fitness?
-Are you getting stronger?
-Are you getting faster?
-Is your recovery better from an intense workout?
-Are you more flexible?
-Do activities of daily living (chores, laundry, carrying groceries or going up a flight of stairs) get easier for you?
Not every aspect of fitness needs quantitative data. If you base improvement on how you feel or how you look, this is a great measuring point. Maybe you just need to know that you’re more active now than you used to be. Perhaps focusing on increasing your daily step count is a realistic and worthwhile goal. If you’re not sure that you’re improving, tracking with data (a log of sets, reps, weights, mileage, etc.) can be helpful.
Remember that improvements in fitness are not always linear. There will be times in life and in training where you will have to back off of intensity so that you can monitor recovery and make sure form is not suffering. Quality will always trump quantity when it comes to training.
-Are you losing (or gaining) weight at the frequency that you’d like?
-Do you frequently change diet methods hoping that one will give faster results than another only to be disappointed and jump to something else?
-Do you often categorize foods as “good” or “bad” (not to be confused with trigger foods or foods you have an allergic reaction to)?
-Do you typically eat according to plan throughout the week and “throw caution to the wind” on the weekends undoing a week’s worth of progress?
-How often do you prep meals?
-How often do you frequent restaurants/fast food establishments?
-What percentage of your diet comes from liquid calories? (Think juice, energy drinks, alcohol, carbonated beverages, and any creamer you might use in coffee/tea).
-Have you ever used a food scale to accurately measure portions?
Similar to my thoughts and questions on fitness, not every aspect of food needs to be tracked. If you’re frustrated with the direction your scale is moving, short-term food tracking can be helpful. It’s important to note that just because a given diet worked well for you once upon a time does not mean it will work again to the same positive effect. Your lifestyle and demands on your time may have changed enough that the same “trick” can’t work twice.
Something that was helpful for my clients to utilize during the pandemic when we were focusing on social distancing and not doing up-close body measurements was to look at the diet from the “outside in”. In other words, write down the foods you eat (without judgment) and see if anything strikes you as unnecessary or counterproductive. Many clients found that they snacked to frequently, grazed on their children’s food too often or consumed a great number of calories after dinner. These are easy places to fix without counting calories and still see positive results.
On Mental Health
-Do you currently take medication for depression?
-Do you currently take medication for anxiety?
-Did you notice any change in weight gain after starting your medications?
-Have you spoken to your doctor about “weight neutral” medications which can help with neurological challenges and also not impede weight loss goals?
-Do you currently have a therapist?
-Do you frequently use exercise or food to manage stress, depression or anxiety?
-Have you spoken with a professional to help you develop healthy coping mechanisms if food or exercise are not positively helping you?
-On a scale of 0 to 10 (zero being not noticeable and ten being intolerable), where do you measure stress in your life? How are you responding to that stress?
One of the best things I’ve done for myself in the last couple of years was go back to therapy after many years away from it. I often told myself that my problems were solved and that I could handle most anything on my own. I was wrong. I need an unbiased sounding board to help me sort through many of my thoughts. I found a therapist who filled a certain paternal void and has been a grounding point when my mind feels at its most chaotic. You don’t have to go to therapy just because things are going poorly in your life. Therapy can still be tremendously helpful even when life seems to be on an upswing.
-Do you have a fulfilling job?
-Do you enjoy the people you work with and for?
-If you don’t “love” your job, does the job that you perform allow you to do the things you love outside of work?
-Do you frequently “take work home with you”? Or, does work stay at work?
-What would you be doing with your time if you weren’t working?
-What do you do to continue to perform at your highest level as an employee at your job?
-If you are a business owner, how do you know you’re getting better at your job aside from seeing an increase in revenue?
-What continuing education would be most helpful to you right now?
I’m very blessed to say that I have a fulfilling job and one that I love. I am proud of my staff and proud of my clients. I do work long hours and it does take a physical toll but I am able to look back on each day and know I did some good in the world. I am always looking for ways to stretch my abilities and get better at what I do. I know I may never be the best but I also know I’ve come a long way and will continue to improve as a coach, a business owner and in grooming my staff to be the best they can be as well.
On Intimate Relationships
-Are you married (or in a long-term relationship)? If so, how many years?
-Would you say that this relationship is currently in a good place?
-How can YOU be better for your partner?
-What ONE thing would make your partner happy that you could do right now?
-When was the last time you had a getaway/vacation with your partner?
-Have you considered couples therapy to see how you and your partner can be your best for one another?
-When your partner says they support your health goals, is that sincere or is it lip service?
-How can your partner support your health goals better? Do they know?
I’ve been with my wife for nearly 12 years, married for almost 7 of it. She is my second wife and I learned a lot about myself (not all good things) from my first marriage. Marissa and I have been through a lot together: many wonderful awe-inspiring things and many damaging, traumatic events as well. I can say, without question, we are in the best years of our marriage now. Some of that took therapy and some took just learning how to listen and respond to each other in better ways. Focusing on having a better relationship between the two of us has the added bonus of making us better parents as well.
Case in point, our son Sebastian (below) being always inspired by coming to the gym with his Mom 3 days a week, he gets better, we get better, everyone wins.
For you: take stock of these questions and take time in answering them. You deserve to improve, you deserve to win, you deserve to get better, to BE better.