When I hand out my business card, I’ve learned to expect to receive the same response. The person glances down, looks up at me, tries to look like they are paying attention, and then looks back at the card—presumbably trying to figure out if those before and after pictures are me. Yes, yes…they are. Don’t worry, my dad still walks by without recognizing me in the mall.
But then it comes . “Wow! That’s you? How’d you do it? How long did it take you?” I used to feel embarrassed when someone saw my pictures, because I didn’t exactly know the answer… which is funny, because I lived it. I felt like I should have some great answer about some fantastic process or potion. And a super-hero cape.
I thought that’s what people wanted to hear. I thought that made more sense and sounded better than the actual truth, which is that it has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I thought the super hero bit was better than me being an ordinary person who made a lot of mistakes.
I was lucky, though. I became friends with a guy that I thought was a contractor, but who turned out to also be a personal trainer. (Uhem… a Master Certified Personal Trainer with nearly 40 years of experience and a lot of knowledge.) He started training me with the promise that “I can help you change your life.” I didn’t believe him. We became best friends and often ate lunch together—and he not only taught me to eat, but stayed on me about actually doing it. When I became frustrated and wanted to quit, because you know, temper tantrums for the win, he just plain wouldn’t let me.
I know that isn’t the experience most people have. Most people go it alone, either due to finances or fear or something else unnamable. They join a gym—they head right for the treadmill because they don’t know what else to do. And because all the skinny, smiling girls in spandex are on the treadmills. (More on this later. Trust me, much more. Because this is a terrible plan. Also more on the going it alone bit. Also a terrible plan.)
Even for those that have a trainer, the path is not easy. The trainer has them at best for 2-3 hours a week, and cannot run around behind them slapping donuts out of their hands. The trainer can’t make them want it, or stay motivated.
One of my clients asked me a great question, “How do you stay motivated when you know, life gets in the way?” She’s a mom of several children of varying ages, and the demands on her are many. She doesn’t have a neat little pocket of “me time.” She tells me a trip to the bathroom alone is a luxury.
I didn’t have time to put on any fancy pants trainer face. All I could think to tell her was the first true thing I learned about losing weight: Just show up.
But that’s a much bigger statement than it seems to be at first. It means actually showing up at the gym, sure. (Which I definitely get…sometimes that’s the hardest part of all. Not just because of life, but because it’s intimidating and overwhelming to start.) But just show up also means showing up for yourself during the workout—give it whatever you have to give it that day—even if it’s not much. Just show up also means showing up for yourself at meals, when you finally got your kids to eat fried nuggets and gooey mac n’ cheese because that’s all you could handle and why yes, that is a cheerio stuck to your hair. Show up for yourself by making sure you give your body what it needs, not just what’s there. And Just Show Up means showing up for yourself by claiming this as a priority in your life, and realizing that one hour is 4% of your day. You are worth that.
But here’s the kick. You have to keep showing up. Over and over. One of the books I’m reading right now that I love is Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog! It’s a productivity and time management book that teaches you how to prioritize things so you’re actually achieving things, not just doing the hamster on a wheel thing. One of the things Tracy says must happen in order to start achieving things in any realm is to pick a goal, and then every single day do something that gets you closer to that goal. He contends that that single act keeps the momentum going.
Struggling to find time to get to the gym? Go for a walk. Play with your kids until you are breathless. Use weights at home. Just show up. Can’t stick to a meal plan? Try making enough chicken/beef/whatever so that you have healthy choices that you can grab when you know fries and McNuggets do not a meal make.
Something else that Tracy suggests is asking yourself what are the consequences positive or negative of doing or not doing something. Whenever you have a choice, ask yourself that question. How can you do something to get one step closer to your goal? How can you show up for yourself, over and over, day after day?
You matter. Your health and happiness and comfort walking around in your skin matter. You’re worth showing up for. Super-hero cape optional.