This morning I finally woke up to some breathing space. It was pretty great. Between the uptick in business thanks to New Year resolutioneers, a nasty cold that has hung on for two weeks, some ouchy injuries and the fact I had to learn two classes worth of new choreography for new group exercise classes that our gym debuted yesterday, I’ve been up against it.
In fact, there were a few days this past week when I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through the day without bursting into tears because I felt so tired, and I’m not a person who is prone to that kind of thing.
When I woke up today the sun had already risen. My pets actually let me sleep past six o’clock. I drank my morning cup of coffee in silence. Pure heaven.
Then I turned on a podcast and started puttering around my place, a combination that never fails to calm.
I listen to a lot of podcasts, and probably 90 percent of them have to do with self development. I’m interested in those topics for myself, yes; but also for my clients. One of the truths you learn after a short while as a personal trainer is that often your clients don’t only want you to give them great workouts. They also are looking for support, guidance and help pushing past their self-limitations to reach goals.
Several times this past week I felt like giving up because I worried I had nothing left to give.
For real: I’ve had clients tell me that sometimes they cancel their appointments with me if they are busy/tired/stressed/you-name-it because it’s “just” for a workout, and then in the next breath tell me they would never cancel a massage or nail appointment. Ouch! Or they promise to show up for something — a class, a session, whatever — and when I look at the crowd, they’re not there.
Or I help get them into great shape for a vacation or an event and then off they go. And when I see them several months later, it’s to get them into shape for another trip or event, and we are starting almost back at Square One.
And the thing is, all of those things are absolutely fine. I mean really: they are FINE. (I am not saying that in the fake “that’s fine” tone, by the way. I mean it.)
Heck, I am constantly restarting when it comes to certain habits in my life. I get it. Anyone heard of The Flylady? Baby steps. Sometimes I have to go back to them. It’s a process, but I will never be one of those people who have to have the house 100 percent clean before I go to bed at night.
I have loads of success stories with people who I have helped make fitness “stick.” Some are featured on this blog. Some are on my training website. Others fly under the radar. Others have brought home trophies from figure and bikini shows. There are triathletes, octogenarians and business leaders.
But I always wonder: what can I do to help these people who appear to want to make that fitness connection but can’t quite get there? The ones who bail? What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do better? I put on what I call the Wendy show for them, pumping them up. I cajole, encourage, advise, pep up, motivate, and sometimes I even sing and dance. (Well, I do that sometimes anyway, because it’s fun and funny.)
This morning I listened to a podcast about “emergence,” and even though for some of you it will fall within the “woo” spectrum, it resonated. Basically, the whole concept of emergence is that you’re already OK. You’re more than OK, in fact, you’re exactly as you are supposed to be at this moment. And it’s when you accept and embrace this fact that you experience growth — you “emerge” to grow into your potential.
Woo to the hoo, perhaps, but even so, I’m letting all that “gotta work harder” energy go. I’ll still do the Wendy show but I’m not going to own the outcome so much because, frankly, it’s out of my control.
So much of what we focus on both in the gym and in our lives has to do with how we don’t measure up, how we have to fix ourselves to be acceptable (whether in our own eyes or how we think the world views us). Many of my clients literally grab a part of their body and shake it at me, telling me that that they want to change it NOW! They want their belly/butt/thighs/triceps SMALLER and TONED! Not tomorrow. Not next week. They want it done NOW. They want the fastest diet, the quickest and most badass routines, that will make that happen.
Slow down, speed racer, I think. Let’s work on the strength and the fitness level and the rest will come.
This past week I told one client to step away from the scale — to stop weighing themselves altogether. This was someone who is a role model to many people; a positive, uplifting force who (like me last week) was being driven to tears of frustration because they felt like they couldn’t give more than they already were, and yet the results weren’t coming. This person needed to let go of the outcome (for them, the number on the scale) and find their love of fitness again. To do it for the joy of it. And when that happened, the results they were looking for emerged. No joke.
When you’re engaged in something for punitive reasons — exercise, diet — to help you get “better” or more acceptable (or, even worse, less unacceptable), it’s not going to end well. Actually, it likely WILL end, as in you will not find it motivating to stick with your fitness routine. You likely will decide to quit.
However, when you look at those same actions — nourishing your body with healthy food and working out to get stronger and fitter — as a way of letting your light shine, you’ll get so much more out of it. It can be a tricky mindset switch, but when you finally make it that mental and emotional turn, you’ll feel pretty awesome. One of the best gurus in this area of thinking is Penache Desai (again, a little woo for some people, but for those of us who constantly are striving, he might have some words of wisdom).
Let “you” emerge, over time. Masterpieces aren’t created overnight. In the podcast I linked to above, they noted how Michelangelo said he didn’t create his sculptures — instead, he winnowed the marble away to let them reveal themselves, so that the marble could become what it was meant to be. He let it be.
Work out. Nourish your body. Do it with good intent. Enjoy it. Have fun. It’ll come together, I promise, just as it was meant to be.
And I’m going to do that same thing — letting it be, rather than trying so hard to change things — the next time I feel up against it. Sometimes all you need is some breathing space to let the good stuff emerge.