My lovely girlfriend, success coach and co-author of our book “Who’s Your Gladys: How to Turn Even the Most Difficult Customer into Your Biggest Fan”, Marilyn Suttle, has transformed over the last year. While she always looked great, about a year ago, she was feeling uncomfortable with her physical condition. She did something about it that worked and now she looks AMAZING. I’ve asked her to share her story here so we can all be inspired by her commitment and success. (Marilyn currently coaches women to help them make “suttle shifts” to help them reach their dreams. You can learn more about Marilyn’s coaching work at www.facebook.com/suttleshift.)
Every year I make New Year’s resolutions to eat right and exercise. Why then, after only three days into it, do I end up eating an entire box of candy in one sitting? Working out was no different. Any time I even thought about going to the gym, my body would rebel. Can a person be allergic to exercise?
I wanted to be fit. I’d tell myself to eat steamed vegetables, but somehow a slice of pizza would end up on my plate. It’s like my appetite had a mind of its own.
There’s a saying, “The thing you teach others is the very thing you need to learn most.” Yep! That applies to me. When coaching women, I encourage them to imagine what they’d rather be experiencing in life. I’d rather experience vitality and fitness in my fifties than weight gain. I wanted energy and stamina to travel, work and play more. But instead of experiencing my vision, I was slipping into the next size pants year after year — until last year.
I started last year with a confrontational conversation with a business coach who said, “To achieve everything you want to accomplish, you need to be in better shape.” He even recommended an exercise program.
“How rude,” I thought. “And true.”
I was face-to-face with the choice to start a structured exercise program. And I felt that sinking feeling set in.
“Me? Exercise? I don’t like dragging myself out of bed extra-early to work out. ”
“I don’t want to eat right and exercise. I want to watch TV and eat cookies.”
Ah ha! I identified the pain I was trying to avoid – getting up early on a cold winter’s morning. I also identified the temporary pleasure of keeping things the same – a warm bed in the early morning, no limits on junk food and zoning out in front of the TV. It’s so easy to languish in those temporary discomforts and short-lived pleasures.
I researched the exercise program. It appeared to be appropriate for my fitness level, it required discipline, and it scared me to death. At my yearly exam, I asked my doctor about it, and he gave it his stamp of approval. Still… I … just … didn’t … want … to.
There I was, slipping back into my routine, avoiding the discomforts of change. Plus, I didn’t really believe it was possible. Can a woman my age counteract midlife spread? My coach thought it was possible and painted a picture of what it would be like when I reached my goals. Seeing it through someone else’s eyes made an impact. I contacted a friend who is a fitness and nutrition coach. He talked me through the program in detail and said, “I promise you this is not too hard for you. You can do this.”
Other people believed I could succeed. What might happen if I believed it too? It was a small thought that created a big shift. In that moment, it became possible, and I said to myself, “I will do this.”
I used some of my own coaching tools on myself too. I pictured myself at the END of each workout, feeling proud of myself. I pictured myself at the end of each day, feeling good after having nourished my body with quality food choices. I imagined myself noticing my pants getting loose. What fun!
I pictured vivid images of fresh green broccoli, blueberries, and other nutritious foods to make them appear more appealing than my less-than-healthy favorites. Before I got out of bed in the morning, I’d let myself experience the vision of a fit and vital me. The result? I overcame the temporary yuck of getting started, and changed my routine.
I ended 2012 fit, vital, and three pants sizes down. But then my husband gave me a box of my favorite candy for Christmas – milk chocolate coconut clusters. I ate the whole box, the same way I started the year.
That’s great news! Why? In the past, I’d use that retreat as an excuse to spiral back down the tunnel of temporary pleasures that kept me stuck. This time, I got myself up the next morning (out of a nice warm bed) and exercised. It’s not about being perfect. And I’ve stopped waiting for my fitness goals to conveniently fit in my schedule. It’s never going to be convenient. It’s about returning my thoughts back in the direction of that vision of health and vitality. Then, the actions automatically follow. It gives me a life-line to hold on to when riding the waves of temptations, demands, and distractions in life.
There are many benefits that come from keeping your fitness goals. Keeping them clearly in mind helps get you out of bed in the morning and snacking on crunchy vegetables in place of potato chips in the evening. Here are a few:
(This is where you’d typically find a list of things like, “you’ll live longer,” “be healthier,” blah, blah, blah… but you and I both know those things don’t have the emotional Velcro-like grab that keeps you inspired, so here’s a more feelings- based list.)
- You get a pat on your back at your next doctor appointment when the doctor asks YOU for advice in staying fit, firm, and vibrant.
- You get to live out that cereal commercial moment of admiring yourself in the mirror while thinking, “Is that really me?”
- You get to feel hot! (without it being related to night sweats or hot flashes.)
- You get new clothes!!!
Women live longer these days. My grandmother lived to be 104. My mom is currently 91. The way you treat your body will determine the quality of those golden years. I’d like to be feisty, fun and full of energy then, which means taking really good care of me now.
How about you? Have you made the “I WILL do this,” commitment to your fitness goals?