Rather than point people towards using apps to motivate, track food, track run stats, or track habits, my goal is to present information so that you can understand the human element that both gets in the way and, confusingly, also helps you succeed in your quest to be happier with yourself. This post is kind of about being happy. This is also about helping you understand how it is that you have things in your life that make you feel shitty and how best to replace those things with things that make you feel better. When you can understand human nature and our very ingrained biologic processes my hope is that you will have more patience and a bigger tool box to pull from to direct yourself towards a happier life. Breaking any goal down to the what, the why and the how will set you up for a clearer and probably more successful path to positive change. Without taking all three components into consideration we risk losing ground, losing time and feeling worse.
Here’s a popular what: “I want to lose 10 pounds.”
Why? Will losing weight make you look younger so that you can compete against others as you move up the corporate ladder? Do you want to lose weight to attract a romantic partner? Do you want to lose 10 pounds because your last love interest found someone younger or thiner? How much does being female and having a “magazine style” body mean you look more successful? Will your mate, your parents, your friends, your boss be impressed by how you look? Does their opinion of you replace your own opinion of yourself? What are you trying to change about yourself for those external parties versus how much are you trying to change for YOU? What are you trying to do? And, why?
Another what: “I want to improve my posture.” Why? Is it because you perceive your slouch-iness makes you look unprofessional? Did you ever judge people who are slouched over calling them old? Did your parents give you a hard time about your posture when you visited them over the holidays? Do you think that fixing your posture will make you look slimmer? What is it that you are really trying to change and why? External party validation? Or, is this really for YOU?
Now, let’s talk about the application of how. How did I gain those 10 pounds? How did my posture turn into what it is today? I gained those 10 pounds because I am not eating well for my current lifestyle and I don’t work out enough. No shit. That’s what we all say. Let’s really dig. How about: I gained those 10 pounds because two years ago I became so emotionally tied to my job that I started working 12 hour days every day. I gave up my mornings and time to eat breakfast so that I could stay up late working which left me sleep deprived so I couldn't get up earlier. I gave up being active during the week because I work so much. I’m in fear of not getting promoted. I can’t keep up on my emails. I don’t feel confident in the quality of my work and feel like I’ll be found out. I need this job because my apartment, car and lifestyle costs exceed 70% of my earnings. The person I work for is a prick. I gained 10 pounds because I live in constant fear that I’m going to be fired because I’m older. Ah! Fear? Stress? Anger? Depressed?...Now we’re getting somewhere.
Let’s explore the posture crisis. How did my posture turn into that of a cavewoman? I stopped playing recreational sports and stopped going to the gym 2 years ago because my neck hurt so badly that I called out of work a lot. Eventually, with my neck still throbbing, my pain threshold increased and being in pain became my new normal. I’m in pain all the time. My neck doesn’t work right so my back rounded. I sit more because my lower back hurts a lot. My lower back hurts because I sit more. Oh ya, and I gained 10 pounds so my core isn’t strong. My posture sucks because my eyes are tired and don’t work properly. I fear having to spend time going to see someone to help fix what is wrong. I don’t have time and I don’t want people at work to think there’s something wrong with me. I will lose respect from my peers and risk not feeling connected to them. Ah! Fear again. We’re getting somewhere!
What do you want to change?
Why do you want to change? The real deep “why”, not the surface “why”. Don't feed yourself a bunch of bull crap.
And, how did you get to this current state that needs correction?
Without digging deep to uncover the why, it’s really hard to find your path out of it. And, with so much noise out there, it’s even more challenging today to find out your real why. The noise is all the crap you read - “the 5 minute fix to a better butt” or the “3 things you need to do to move up the ladder”. How do you feel when you see your buddy Mike’s 40 mile bike ride and you only rode 10 miles because your back hurt? Are you going to keep riding even though you’re in pain? Will your “bike friends” support you as you heal your back or will they disappear? Will you stop riding and subsequently cease using that app putting you at risk of gaining weight and start to fear losing your job? Making noise-free time to really dig deep will help you realize more about yourself. Quiet those things that aren’t adding real value to you. And, believe that you deserve to be happy. Figure out those things that are in your way to feel better and begin chopping them out. And, find the positive "who's" to help you. Coach's (like me), therapists, friends, family. Be patient as you embark on your quest, be kind to yourself and for f*cks sake, be real. I bet you’ll find greater success as you make change. You deserve to lead a life that feels good!