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August 5, 2011

Where is your head at?

“Most people think that the world is outside them. They live life backward, running after security and approval, as if by making enough money or getting enough praise they could be happy once and for all. But nothing outside us can give us what we’re really looking for.”
–Byron Katie

I love the experience of working with clients. I learn so much, not only about what nutrition and training protocols get the best results for each individual, but also the psychological perspectives that each unique client brings.

As a coach, it still surprises me that one client can lose 5 pounds in 12 weeks and be ecstatic, while another client can lose 10 pounds in 12 weeks and think they are a complete failure.

What’s up with that?

In this post, I am going to explore some issues that I have been hearing about from clients, as well as sharing some things I have experienced, in the mental-emotional realm.

Expectation Management

This is so key in the quest for fat loss and optimal fitness. It can really can be summed with a simple 2-word statement: get real. “Realness” comes from learning and adopting perspective.

At JillFit, we work with female clients all the time that say something like, “my goal is to get down to 10% body fat and stay there.”

First of all, as coaches and clinicians, we don’t feel this is safe or healthy.  Many lose their menses at that leanness and will simply be malnourished.  However, for some reason, that 10% number is in their head–who put it there? Where did it come from? WHY is that the expectation? And even if we can get down to 10%, will you be happy or miserable? Will you be killing yourself to stay there and will any fluctuation cause anxiety?

I have talked many times about my early years in the competition world and though I had early success, I was never happy, never fulfilled and always felt fat and “out of shape” even though I was 100 times more fit than any other person on the street. If I wasn’t in “show shape” I was embarrassed to be seen by my peers and wouldn’t even *think* of setting up a photo shoot without being ripped to shreds/abs popping.

In short, I was making myself miserable because of the discrepany between THE EXPECTATION THAT I SET FOR MYSELF and where I actually was. E.g. “I *need* to be 12% BF and because I am 16%,  that 4% difference makes me want to hide and drown in my unworthiness,” INSTEAD of recognizing that 16% is pretty damn lean and you know what, I look pretty effing good! Ha!

But, instead, I could not see outside myself.

My perspective was negative and I beat myself up because I couldn’t stay at such a leanness, and of course I deserved to feel bad because “look at all those other girls who are able to do it.”

In short, I was doing it to myself.

I was creating my own personal hell of disempowerment. Besides, I had to stay feeling guilty and inadequate because if I didn’t, than I would blow up, right?  If I stop “caring,” it’s like throwing in the towel and saying its ok to get fat, right? WRONG. In fact, I was so preoccupied with staying lean that I could not see outside myself and I was miserable–beating myself up every time I overindulged and then vowing to get back on a competition-type plan come Monday and then doing the same thing again.

The key to it for me was understanding moderation. It was simple: when I denied myself, I ended up overindulging–every time–and without fail. Thus the cycle continued. Adopting a more gentle approach toward myself and realizing that it never has to be all-or-none. In fact, the more balanced an approach I took, the less obsessed with food I became. I started eating more moderately, though still clean but no foods were “off-limits” anymore. It is a leap of faith though to start looking at things this way, especially when we are used to looking at certain foods as “bad” or “off-limits.”

Ironically, becoming less obsessed with diet and exercise allowed me to stay leaner year round, with a lot less effort.  However, making this type of switch takes practice, relinquishing control a bit and most importantly, introspection.

The first step when feelings of anxiety come up is to try to RELAX. I know it is hard when you feel like you aren’t where you want to be or you *should* be leaner/smaller, etc. But remember, the idea that attaining a goal like a certain body fat % or dress size alone will provide happiness or peace of mind will only leave us disappointed. There is temporary relief, joy and pride when a goal is attained, but it is usually brief if there is no appreciation, joy or love for the process. Without innate feelings of happiness, security, gratitude, joy and peace regardless of the numbers, these issues will always cause us feelings of remorse, guilt and stress.

So let’s continue to tackle the *bigger* issue–self-acceptance.

Personality Management

Where is your head at? Do you constantly find yourself irritated, annoyed, impatient and negative?

I used to! Ever snap at a loved one because “you have to diet” and they don’t?  LOL this is funny, but I am sure we have all done this–it’s all soooooo unfair! “Look at what they can eat! They don’t have any right to be upset, they can eat CARBS!!!” (lol, my personal favorite).

You competition ladies know what I am talking about! And it all leads to one simple conclusion: you are being victimized by your own thoughts about fat loss. YOU decide it is unfair. YOU decide you have it rough. YOU decide that dieting sucks. YOU decide that no one can possibly know what you are going through. And I feel you, because I have done all of this and worse. Remember this post: “Can’t someone just tell me that I am a good little dieter!??” Lol.

Well, the time has come for us to get over ourselves, ladies.

We decide what we do in life. We decide how we interact with the world everyday–whether to be hopeful or pity ourselves, whether to be open or closed to experiences, whether to be happy or pissed off, whether to be kind or be a bitch.

We get to choose how we perceive people and situations. We get to choose how we respond to negativity or discrimination. We get to choose every second how we interact with the people in our lives and with both successes and challenges that occur.

We can embrace them, good and bad, and learn OR we can wallow in self-pity and wait for some imaginary person/plan/program to rescue us, all the while remaining frozen with self-imposed disempowerment.

IMHO, it’s time we rescued ourselves!

So get out there–push around your heavy-ass weights, cook your clean eats, keeping chugging along and embrace how fit you are RIGHT THIS SECOND. And don’t forget–nothing happens to you, it happens for you–created by you–in order to teach youif you are open to it :) Good luck! ox Jill

Related: Post-Competition Blues Part 1: Understanding the Mind Game When It’s Over
Related: Post Competition Blues Part 2: Preparedness & Expectations

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