SUCCESS, CHALLENGES AND THE RIGHT MOTIVATION
In this article I am talking about real stories of clients struggles that reveal the trials people have to overcome to reach their goals. I want to explain a flaw in motivation and human psychology that keeps people stuck in a perpetual cycle of weight gain and Id like to give you some advice on how to start your fitness regime in a way that will exponentially increase your likelihood of success.
Remember when the Insanity DVD came out?!
It was 2014 and I’m sitting in front of a teacher called Sarah. She was softly spoken, gentle natured and had warm kind looking eyes, though hidden beneath her smile lied a deep sadness. You see, she had battled with her weight all her life and it had reached the point where she was 90lb above her normal size. At just 5ft tall it was having a huge impact on her joints and with an extreme case of rheumatoid arthritis in her feet, knees and lower back her body was almost crippled by the pain. Walking, bending and even sitting was causing her constant discomfort to the point of tears. Feeling desperate and lost and not knowing which way to turn, all she knew for certain was what she wanted to achieve and that she needed support and guidance. I asked her where she wanted to get to in one years time. Well, what she said was very surprising;
“I want to do the hardest level on the Insanity exercise DVD”
Now, for those of you who don’t know, insanity included some of the hardest high intensity exercises known to fitness professionals – hence why it was called it Insanity. Now, if you knew me you would know, I never doubt people’s potential, we are all capable of more than we expect from ourselves. But, seriously, she couldn’t walk without extreme pain, how was she going to do high intensity exercises!!?
The thing was, her story wasn’t unique. Three months earlier I had met a women called Dawn who was suddenly struck with two very rare viruses and an auto immune disorder at the same time. The hardest part was, she was pregnant too.Just as she was giving birth to her baby girl she had a stroke. The doctors acted quickly, they had minutes to save both the baby and mother, they managed to do both but at a huge cost to Dawn. She was in a coma for the first three months of her baby’s life. When she finally came too she had no memories, had lost the ability to speak and didn’t remember her husband or the fact that she had a baby. As if that wasn’t enough she was paraplegic too. She had to learn how to speak, read, write, rebuild her relationships and was told she would never walk again. I met her four years later, she contacted me as I was working with a friend of hers with MS and he reported improvements in his condition. There she was, in a wheelchair telling me this story, feeling a little out of my depth I asked her how she thought I could help?
“I want to do that Instantly fitness DVD”.
(Has everyone gone insane I thought, you can barely stand for more than 10 seconds let alone walk; We all know the expression, don’t run before you can walk. Well, she wanted to jump and kick and punch and sprint).
Who am I to tell her she can’t and also, how would I know, the doctors said she wouldn’t come back from the coma, she did, they said she wouldn’t regain memories, she did, they said she wouldn’t walk again and I am glad to say and guess what, she did.
I set out personalised planes including lifestyle, nutrition and exercise for both these women, taking into account their unique conditions. Our focus was always on progression, getting them one step closer to being able to do those insanity style HIIT workouts.
Now, if we skip a year ahead for both Sarah and Dawn I can tell you, they both (yes both), did the highest level of Insanity! As I watched in amazement at these women jumping and kicking and running on the spot, I wondered why is it that some people never reach their goals and these women who had the odds stacked against them have overcome adversity.
I came to three powerful conclusions that may help you when considering personal training. 1. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain. 2. They held a very clear picture of what they wanted to be. 3. They worked for it every single day.
You see, for Sarah and Dawn both had lots of pain motivating them to change. So adjusting some habits was much easier for them at the start. However the physical, emotional, mental pain can only get you started. But, the reason they succeeded was due to point 2 and 3 above. Let me explain…
Pain isn’t the best long term motivation
Back in 2009 I was running my personal training business from gyms in central London, one day a shy man asked for my help in shifting 10 stone. His partner had left him, his children had stopped talking to him and he was deeply unhappy with the way he looked. He had lots of pain motivating him to change. 11 months later, through sheer grit and determination he managed to lose the weight. He was even in the local paper for his impressive results.
Then, he stopped. Just like that, until a year later. He walked back in the gym, head down, avoiding eye contact with me, looking at the floor as he hurried past…He had gained 11 stone in that one year. He had gained more than he had lost. All those hours, those tears, all that sweat and hard work. Gone. He is the perfect example of how pain can only motivate you for a short period.
Now, what do you think happens when you lose the pounds, when clothes start feeling looser, when you can run again?
With every step forward you move further away from the pain that motivated you in the first place. Imagine you are running from someone chasing you, they are right behind you, you sprint as fast as you can, you keep running until you can no longer see them. You slow down, catch your breath and the threat is gone. As you are resting slowly and surely they catch up and all of a sudden they are right behind you again. Sprint! The cycle repeats itself.
You see, if you are motivated only by pain, then when you have no pain it stands to reason you also have no motivation. The results, old habits seek back in the weight creeps back on...
Away or towards Motivation
You see, when I talk to people about their goals they are often not focused on a future image of themselves. They are often very caught up looking from the prospective of what they are unhappy with, whether it’s dress size, weight, lack of fitness etc… It’s always something they are trying to move away from and if you are looking behind constantly, you can’t see your journey ahead.
In Neuro Linguistic Programme or NLP (the study of human behaviour, communication and success) there are two popular distinctions when it comes to motivation. They are called towards and away from. Towards is something you wish to achieve in the future, running a marathon, being a certain dress size, doing the highest level in an insanity DVD!! This approach is always aiming for something you wish to achieve in the future. The closer you get to this goal the more focused you become – like practising for an exam, the closer it gets the harder you work.
As mentioned above, moving away decreases motivation over time. That’s why I suggest having future focused goals. Achieving a certain dress size, look, activity (like the highest level of the insanity DVD) keeps you forward focused. But conversely it can be too far away in the future which can disable your ability to start.
To overcome this, you should set much smaller goals: run 1 mile, do a 2 minute plank, drop a belt notch or dress size. It has to feel achievable and realistic or as unrealistic is very demotivating for some. It must eventually be able to lead to a maintainable long term healthy and happy lifestyle.
Challenges you face
Now, if you are considering personal training I would like to say something to you at this point; slip ups are going to happen, motivation is going to wane, life is going to get the better of you, that’s just how it is. For my above mentioned 'insanity clients', we faced one having a broken leg, the other being out of action with her back for 6 weeks, poor health, sickness, tears, job losses, stress and self doubt. This is called…
The Bungee Affect
A couple of years ago I was writing a book with a hypnotherapist/ CBT practitioner who referred to this as The Bungee Affect. She characterised it like this; “you know you need to jump as something has to change, your health, your weight, you are very hesitant, your inner voice is telling you to stop, but you overcome it and move your feet to the edge, you gently lean forward and drop. As you start to dive in you feel fantastic and free, you move away from the old you, the unfit, tired, overweight you and things are going great.
Suddenly, you come to a aggressive halt as the bungee pulls you back with force – this is where life throws you a curve ball... injury, sickness, work, money – and you find yourself moving backwards and slowly you bounce back to the start again”. I have personally witnessed this situation so many times and I have become very good at predicting it before it even happens.
Let me be brutally honest. Your job, your family, even your friends aren’t going to suddenly change because you have decided that you need to. I can guarantee that on your journey to a better you, you will be faced with challenges, you will have good weeks, great weeks, and terrible ones. The ones who make it, are the ones that stay focused on the future image of themselves. That get up, dust off and go hard again and again and again, until it’s just a habit to workout, to eat well, to rest well… Until its second nature.
If you are ready for to change your health, fitness, lifestyle and weight, then below are four steps that I learnt while training thousands of people, the ones who are successful often follow these success steps;
Step 1: get an image of how you want to look, feel and be – maybe a picture of when you felt your best. Perhaps a picture of the body you want to look like and have it somewhere you can remind yourself daily (desk, phone, fridge), this has be proven to increase your performance and focus.
Step 2: get a challenge for yourself of what you want to be able to do (run, compete etc). Set yourself a challenge, start with smaller challenges: 1 minute plank, 50 squats, run 1 mile etc… And when you reach that goal reset to the next.
Step 3: get a mindset that says ‘I will get knocked down but I will jump up fighting”. Beware what you tell yourself; “when you say you can or you can’t you are right”. If you give in to negative talk it will hold you back, tell yourself you can, you will everyday until that becomes the most powerful for voice in your head.
Step 4: get some help, doing it alone is admirable, but getting support and guidance can be the difference to success. People lift harder, run faster, longer, eat better when they are doing it as part of a group or with someone’s support.
Changing your body, health and fitness is one of the most powerful life changes you can make, every part of your life will improve; mindset, you energy, your performance and even productivity. It might be hard, but when you get there it will be worth it a hundred times over.
Contact me for more support.