Everybody has a story in them, a string of events that together forms a narrative and influences their choices and behavior. Think about it, when you tell people that you are a good cook what does this mean? You may reference several meals that you have prepared over the years and the praise you received from friends and family for your creations. At a deeper level you might even remember the time you spent in the kitchen with your parents learning the nuances of putting together a meal.
You can wear a culinary badge of competence based on a history of success and you enjoy the confidence that goes along with it. The thing is, story telling works in both directions and if you are still mastering the art of boiling water you have a pretty different story. The stories we tell ourselves can both carry us forward or hinder our progress; you get to choose which one you want to listen to.
Creating a lifestyle where you achieve a healthy weight and confidence means learning a story that aligns with what you are trying to accomplish. The thing is, if you have had a difficult time with weight loss in the past your story may need revisions. In fact, you may need to do a bit more research and find co-author if you really need to make some significant changes.
Before you know where to go you need to write out where you have been. Take the rest of the week and think about your healthy living story. Who are the main characters, who are the villains, what plot twist caught you off guard and what successes did you experience. Once you have this down you can start to write the rest of the story.
Note, you don’t have to write this story alone so don’t be afraid to ask for help.
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I’m a personal trainer and a counselor, I workout because it is fun and I really enjoy pushing myself. When it’s not -25 here in Chicago I like getting in a morning run but in the winter I opt for some early morning Yoga to get things going. Later in the day I block off a couple of hours for a gym workout.
Often, when I talk to my friends about my lifestyle they point out that they would workout like this if it was their job too. Well, it is your job. In fact you are the CEO of your healthy lifestyle.
I spend 30 minutes in the AM and a couple of hours in the afternoon that includes my commute to the gym and a stop a Whole Foods after. If you break down my actual gym time I work out for just a little over an hour. The thing is, I make the time, I get up early, I schedule my clients around this break in the day. I prioritize my health.
It is Monday, you have the whole week ahead of you, schedule the time you are going to dedicate to yourself today. You are the boss of this life.
There is no action without thought, if you don’t believe me try it. Even mindless task like brushing your teeth, commuting to work or listening to your client complain about cellulite has cognition behind it. Most of us are able to go through our day without even paying attention to the noisy mental processes behind mundane task. This doesn’t always work to our benefit, just think about a time when you were out with friends at a Mexican restaurant and the bowl of chips in front of you magically vanishes? It’s as if our brain goes on feeding autopilot while you talk sports/fashion and take in new information from the individual sitting in front of you.
When you are coaching weight loss with you clients one of the first things that will get the process started is to help them become aware of these thoughts. I usually have my clients keep a two week journal of their thoughts, feelings and impulses behind each meal. When we were younger eating was pretty much dictated to us, you were given a bottle either at certain times of the day or when you wouldn’t stop crying. Your parents would take you to McDonald’s when you did well in school or wouldn’t stop saying, “I’m loving it” every time they drove by the golden arches. While it didn’t seem like much at the time these occurrences were hardwiring habits that many of us have taken into adulthood. Think about the last time you thought, “I deserve a drink for getting through such a hard week,” or “cookie dough ice-cream won’t get mad at me for not turning in the brief on time.”
We all have these thoughts bouncing around in our heads and as a professional part of your programming should include helping your clients to listens the productive thoughts. After they develop their awareness around the foods they eat the next step is to get them to actively dispute the voices that have them ordering Frappuchio’s after work each day. Disputing dysfunctional thoughts is a method championed by Albert Ellis the father of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). He would have his clients really pay attention to irrational thoughts like “eating will make me happy” and turn them around to “I eat when I’m hungry and while meals are a pleasurable experience I don’t need them to be happy.”
Helping them find their voice in the matter is a very powerful tool. It will encompass everything from what they order at a restaurant to their ability to turn down double-fudge brownies at school functions. So, encourage them to listen to those voices in their head just make sure the things they are saying don’e involve chain saws and hockey mask.