I know, it seems crazy to say that a financial guy like Dave Ramsey taught me something about fitness and nutrition, but he did. In fact, I’ve used one major concept of Dave’s to help my coaching clients for years.
Before hearing about Dave Ramsey, every financial guru I had ever followed, or read, told me to do the same thing. To pay off your debt you need to start with the debt with the highest interest. It makes sense, financially, I’ll give them that. That high interest, usually also high balance, card is costing the consumer the most in actual dollars. In fact, the advice I often heard was throw most of your money at the highest interest card and pay the minimum balances on the remaining.
But not Dave. After going through Dave’s Financial Peace program, reading his books and listening to him on the radio, I am to the point where any time I make a purchase I hear a little Dave in my head, “Don’t pay the stupid tax.” Dave is a straight forward, country boy from Tennessee. He brought one concept to the debt pay off scene that, in my opinion, most of the personal finance leaders of the time didn’t…common sense.
See, Dave knows that debt is not a money issue. Dealing with debt and the discipline to pay it off is a human behavior issue. Dave attacked it from that angle, with a sprinkle (or more) of faith, and it works.
Unlike the other financial authors I had read or watched, Dave doesn’t have his students start with the biggest debt, or the highest interest rate. He ignores the usual convention and teaches them to start with the smallest debt, regardless of interest rate.
Starting with the smallest debt is your quickest way to a win. We need the wins. We thrive on the wins. In fact, it’s not just a happenstance that we feel good when we get the win. When we pay off our debt, and celebrate it, our brains actually pump “feel good” chemicals thorough our bodies. Not unlike what it does when we feel good about swiping our card to get us into debt, we can get the same euphoric feeling when we celebrate a win for paying off a debt. The more you do this and set up this positive reward system, internally, the more likely you are to stay on track and actually pay off the next bill and so on. Dave calls this his Debt Snowball. Start small, and as you roll down the hill, paying off the smallest, then the next smallest, and so on, you’re creating a snowball effect in your brain and in your bank account.
It works for one simple reason; it works with how we work.
Starting with that largest bill, with the largest interest rate, may financially make sense but it makes zero human sense. If that first bill is going to take you 3 years to pay off, how likely are you to ever get to bill number two? How likely are you to wait 3 years for a win? You know how many will do this? About 1%. Maybe.
For years now I’ve been using this same concept for fitness and nutrition. Yes, again like Dave, it’s counter to what my industry teaches. My industry, no thanks to shows like Biggest Loser, has an all-or-nothing, hit-it-hard, go-hard-or-go-home, you haven’t worked out until you puke or die, mentality. But, I’m not getting in that line.
I have a life rule. It’s been a rule of mine long before I knew I had it. But I just recently (a couple years ago) got words to put to it. Here it is:
If everyone is in a “line,” that means it’s a line I probably need to get out of.
Most people will die regretting never chasing their dream.
Most people in our society are on multiple medications, overweight, and/or sick.
Most people dread going to work.
Most people don’t create time to chase a dream, go to the gym, cook healthy food, or eat at the dinner table, yet spend hours binge watching Game of Thrones.
Most people read less than 3 books a year.
I made a conscious effort (and yes it was a lot of effort) to get out of those lines.
We’re all standing in a line leading to somewhere. The lines we are in decide our direction. Direction decides destination. The lines are our habits, beliefs, and really just general BS we put up with from ourselves.
So any time (and I’ve taught my kids this too) you’re doing something that is going with the crowd, meaning it has a long line – GET OUT OF LINE, it’s most likely not going a direction you want to go.
Back on task here….
Where was I? Oh, yes, the fitness industry.
When I teach my clients or have the opportunity to talk to groups about nutrition and fitness, I talk to them about Dave Ramsey because I know what Dave knows; changing our nutrition is not about the food, its about us. Changing our fitness routine is not about the workout, it’s about us. It’s about changing a habit, and I work with humans not machines.
If you’re hooked on several soda’s a day, eating a crappy diet and ending your day with several glasses of wine to get you to sleep, and you come in and overhaul your entire life in one day, you’ll be overwhelmed within a week. I give it three days. Am I saying you’ll quit? Maybe. Maybe you’ll hang in a bit longer. Maybe you’re one of the 1% that actually does work this way (warning: everyone thinks they are part of that 1%). But for the majority, they are done in one week, max two. How do I know? Years of experience. And it’s really what most clients come to me wanting. They want a whole new routine…today. And want it to work now.
Trust me I can tell in about three minutes of conversation if a client is of the 1%. I’m not saying that the 1% are better, I’m not. I’m just saying they work different and they are uncommon.
But how do the rest of us work? How do you work? How did I do it?
Studies have proven that change, lasting change, works best when we change one small habit at a time. One thing. And maybe even take that one thing and break it down into even smaller steps.
It can look like this:
You drink three sodas a day or hit the drive through five times a week. Maybe you do both. First step is for the next two weeks you’ll pick just one of those to work on. Look, you’ve been doing this for years, waiting to deal with one of them a couple weeks or a month will not hurt this situation. In fact, my whole point here is to show you how to make each of these stick for good.
So, you choose one. Let’s say you’re going to attack the soda first. Currently you drink three a day. We are going to drop that to one a day for two weeks, and you’re going to rock that. (Drop it to two a day first if you need to). In two weeks when you hit that goal, we’re going to celebrate the crap out of that. There are many ways you can do this, but I highly recommend you get somewhere alone if you need to and DANCE! Yep, dance! Let your BODY feel the effects of reward. This is a great way to begin to create your own internal reward system. Yes, you could “treat” yourself with something, but let’s start to adult and learn to reward ourselves for doing good things without creating a new problem. Let’s build up a new confidence within.
I cannot overstate the need to dance. Tony Robbins would say “change your state.” One of my new favorites is Joseph McClendon III, he would say, “Get up and shake that ass!” Do it with flare! Do it with your family and friends if you can. Have a full-on living room dance party. Do it alone if you need to, but DO IT. It’s important.
Then choose your next two-week goal. Yes, goals can be smaller, and they can be weekly instead of biweekly. Each of my clients sets different goals.
The same is true with starting a new fitness routine. Most of us want to jump in, do two workouts a day, six or seven days a week. I highly recommend you avoid this. It’s not good for your body, it needs rest, and it’s the fastest way to burnout that I know. I’ve seen this one over and over.
I recently helped a client find thirty minutes, twice a week for her workouts. She is a single mom of three, has a full-time job and deals with a pretty crazy commute to and from work. She literally could not see when she would have time. Can you blame her? NOPE! So, she wrote down her schedule for me; call it a time budget. She is doing the things y’all! She needed someone else to look at her calendar and tell her where to put a workout. She is now coming in twice a week for 30-minutes each session. Yes, she is working hard while she is there, but right now that’s not even what it’s about. It’s about her making a new habit. It’s about her owning this 1 hour a week for her. That is her new habit. The snowball has started rolling down-hill.
And that’s how the fitness and/or nutrition snowball works. And let me add that when I have clients who start at the gym, I tell them to give the new routine of showing up to workouts about two weeks at least before we even meet to talk about nutrition. Habit one needs to get some momentum. Then in two weeks we’ll meet to examine where we’ll start with habit two. And so on, and so on, until that snowball is rolling so hard and fast it cannot be stopped. Life will happen; birthdays, graduations, summer vacation, illness, death in the family. It will all happen to all of us. But when your snowball is rolling with vicious momentum you can handle what life throws at you and jump right back on that momentum. A rock on the mountain won’t stop you. You’ll hit it, we all do, but then you’ll bounce back and keep on rolling.
And I have clients all the time that want to tell me, “No, Jen. I’m an all or nothing type.” and I’m here to tell you that way doesn’t work. Whatever way you “succeeded” before that you’re fooling yourself into doing again because it “worked before” is a lie. If it worked then you wouldn’t be in my office crying over a new 40 pounds gained. It didn’t work! No, counting your freakin points didn’t work if you’ve had to do it five times in the last ten years. Stop it! The program doesn’t need to change...YOU DO! The reason it didn’t work LONG TERM, is because you did outside work on an inside job. So, if you find yourself thinking this snowball stuff is a bunch of hooey and telling yourself (aka, lying to yourself) that you’ll just do _______ because it worked before. I beg you…just give yourself the gift of going low and slow and create a new mindset. This time do more than lose weight. Create a new momentum in your life.
Start your snowball. Where will you start?
The day started strong. I had trained, maybe not as well as I had wished, but I felt ready. My only goal this race was to beat my last time and conquer the downtown Nashville hell, I mean hills.
There is always a point in every race when I’m confronted with the urge to quit, or should I say the opportunity, to quit. I’ve also learned that this is just a moment, maybe a few minutes, maybe a mile, typically not longer, but a moment that if I dig down deep, I can push through until I’ve found my second wind.
I’ve learned a technique for checking to see if my wanting to bail is actually my body ready to quit or my mind going into flight mode due to the discomfort. I have also learned when it happens. I know the mile and I know when I’m racing in Nashville exactly the place; just about mile ten, just as I’m going through what is called the Gulch.
Definition of Gulch: a deep or precipitous (dangerously high or steep) cleft : RAVINE especially : one occupied by a torrent (Italics mine)
Definition of torrent: : a violent stream of a liquid (such as water or lava)…or sweat????? Just sayin!
Consequently, the Gulch is almost always the place the torrent of negative self-talk likes to creep in. So, in order to check myself I do a body check. No, I don’t take out the closest runner…I check my own body. I begin at my feet. How do my feet feel? Tired but ok. How are my calves? Actually, pretty good. And I work my way up my body, stopping at each body part. This does two things. One, it occupies my mind while I’m slowly making my way through the dreaded tenth mile, and two, it reminds my mind that my body is ok. “Stop freaking out.” I’ve trained, I’m ready. I’m tired but I’m not done. Stand up tall, breathe deep, keep going. It works like a charm.
But not this time. This time nothing was working. I was spent and no amount of self-talk, body-checking or water station was going to help. The only thing I needed was a finish line or an ambulance or both. It was hot, like fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk-hot, or at least that’s how I remember it. I had made it through mile ten but in Nashville what awaits you after mile ten is still quite treacherous. It’s three and a half miles of hills, switchbacks, and all the while you’re in sight of the finish line. One minute you think you’re headed straight for it then the next your headed in the opposite direction. FOR THREE MILES. Meanwhile, you’re watching the truly insane head off for another 13 miles of this dreaded hell. How do they do it?
I was walking, although I don’t know how. I could no longer lift my head. My only view was the pavement for the next two feet in front of me. I began a mantra to get one foot in front of the other. My mind was fighting with itself. One of me was begging me to sit down. The other of me was telling the quitter to shut up, “You know if we sit down we will never get back up! Keep going!” (I talk to myself in “we’s.” It may seem crazy but it’s one of the most-healthy habits I have.) I knew the smart thing to do was to stop. I don’t always do the smart thing. And it’s really hard to be smart when you’re dehydrated and weak.
Her voice coming from behind me is, to this day, still something that makes me want to cry. I was at my end. I had no gas in the tank, no energy, nothing. The only thing I had left was desire to finish what I started. But I needed help. And there she was. My friend Heather, who was also running the race, came up from behind.
From the moment Heather took the wheel I went on auto-pilot. I didn’t need to think, I didn’t need to navigate the crowd, I didn’t need to do anything but stay upright and follow the sound of her voice. All I could see was her shoes and the pavement. All I could hear was her voice, not the words, just her voice. I do remember her saying, “Is my talking driving you crazy? I can shut up if you want me to. Or, I can talk. I’m an only child I can talk to myself all day.” Sometimes all we need is the sound of a familiar voice and a bit of humor to keep us going. I replied, “I can’t talk back, but please just keep talking. I’m following your voice.” And she did.
Once I had Heather at my side, I even allowed myself a couple of seconds to stop and rest. My hips were on fire. I knew if I sat down while I was alone, I may not get up again. But now I wasn’t alone. A couple times I told her, “I’m going to sit on this curb. Give me 30 seconds.” And I meant that literally, and she knew it. She timed me and in 30 seconds I got up and tried again.
And that’s how it went, all the way through the finish line.
Fast forward about 6 years (I’m guessing) and my friend and I now both own businesses literally in the same parking lot. We did not plan it. Back then it wasn’t anything either one of us would have ever even seen coming. It’s just happened. And every now and then we find ourselves in that same race. One of us spent, unable to lift our heads from the grind, and hustle, and long hours. I love the moments when we get to lift one-another up and help the other through that day’s “race.”
When I hired my first coach, he did the same thing for me.
I started this business because I liked changing lives. I had no idea how to get clients, or how to build a staff, or how to….well, really do much of anything. As someone who had been in my industry and succeeded, my coach helped me see what I couldn’t and led me. He helped me remember who I was when I would doubt. He reminded me that this is supposed to be hard. If it was easy then most businesses wouldn’t fail within the first three years (I’m about to double that, thank God).
I’m not saying all of this to scare you out of your dream but to urge you on. GO! Do the thing. Do it scared. Do it without all the training. Do it without all the money yet, make it along the way. If you have a desire to do something and it’s not going away, it’s your duty to go after it. You didn’t ask for this desire that keeps knocking at the door of your heart. So why is it there? You have to ask yourself that question. I believe God is knocking and that desire is your purpose. I have mine. I’m jumping. It’s scary. It’s new. It’s BOLD.
I told you this story to remind you that even when we don’t have everything we need to finish, we can start and trust that the people, resources, and knowledge will come when it’s needed, and usually not a moment before. Make sure you have Heathers in your life and if you don’t GO GET YOU SOME! When you leap I promise you that you’ll freak out. You’ll need a voice to listen to to keep going. I actually have several now. I've had moments when the people have already been in my life (Rob, friends, family) and times when I had to seek them out (coach, therapist, spiritual director). Both work. I've sought actual people to talk to and help me through, and at times I've dove deeply into personal growth books and audio books to pull myself through. Both work.
I have learned something that is as true as the sun coming up in the morning...Every time I take a big step, I WILL be given a test. Each leap is followed by the opportunity to let go of the new scary adventure and let the safety net catch me. Something big happens to try to scare me back into my comfort zone. But I’ve learned, just like running a race, it’s just a moment. Maybe just a day or two. I have to breathe. Do a reality check. How am I today? How are my kids today? What if I fail? That's not the question that keeps me moving forward. This is: What if I don’t keep trying? That last question is the one that moves me through the moment. It’s mile ten all over again. The “Gulch.” But see, now I know what to do there. And over time, so will you. Trust that. See, I have made a decision; I would rather deal with failure rather than the regret of never trying.
Every day I get to be that voice to someone. If you need someone to talk you through “the race,” I’d love to be that for you. Check out my Action Circle Program. Let’s get you in the race! If you're worried you don't have what it takes to run the race, let me tell you that you do. But, at times, you'll need someone to remind you of that. Make sure you're running with people who will remind you.
This past Saturday while teaching Spin I had a bit of an ah-ha moment. For years I’ve guided hundreds of people on rides on an indoor bike; we sweat, and work, and my favorite, we visualize overcoming our obstacles.
I really didn’t love Spin the first few times I attended a class because it was really all about the workout. Add gear, stand up, sit down, yada, yada, yada, snore. Even when I decided to bring Spinning to our studio I did it reluctantly. Even when Rob and I traveled a state away to get my Spin certification, I went with hesitation and a bit of an eye-roll attitude. But then I met Martha. Martha is the master instructor that led us through our certification course. She is a master at bringing the rider into the moment and guiding them through powerful visualization. I entered my class unimpressed and left in tears of joy, and relief. If I could teach the way she just did, I had found something I could love. It’s almost 6 years later and I am enjoying my time teaching Spin more than ever.
Many think teaching a Spin class is easy. Let me assure you it is not. Most instructors spend hours prepping for a class. It sometimes takes years to really find your voice on the bike and it takes a passion to see others succeed and overcome to show up class after class and bring energy and inspiration.
My favorite part of Spin is leading my class through visualization. The challenges we face while on the bike are so similar to the challenges we face in life. Life is an everchanging cycle of hills and valleys, so is Spinning. Where spin and life differ is that in spin you decide the length of the hill, you decide the elevation, you are in control. It’s not unusual for me to throw a hill, maybe even a grueling hill, at my class and just when they assume that we are finished with it, I keep us on it. We keep going. Why? Because in life we rarely have the ability to decide how long a hill, or mountain, will last. When someone we love is sick, we don’t get to decide how long, we must endure. When we suffer a financial set-back we often don’t know when the next relief will come. When we are working on a project, if often goes longer than planned and we will have to remain in the climb. In my class we learn how to overcome when the hill gets longer and steeper than expected. Sometimes we practice recovery ON THE HILL. We learn to breathe, and regroup, and focus all while still climbing. We finish the hill when we reach the top, and not before, and sometimes we do not get to decide how long that will take. And let’s be honest, in life it almost always takes longer than we wish.
So here we are last week, and I say to my class, “See your hill! See the top! We are headed there! Together!” And this may be super-obvious to all of you, it is to me now too, but this hit me like a WHOOOSH! Suddenly, as if I could see little thought bubbles above every head in the room, I could see their hills. I mean that in my mind I could see this. So crazy (the brain on exercise is amazing but that is another post). EVERY HILL WAS DIFFERENT! Some were rocky, some were short, some were mountains with jagged tops, some were somewhere in the middle, but they were all unique and different and personal.
Call me Captain Obvious, I know, but stay with me.
For years I’ve closed my eyes (because I can see better that way), and I visualize a hill as I urge my class to see the hill. In my mind I have always just been on my hill. It never even occurred to me that we were all seeing different hills. I just saw mine and made a crazy assumption without even assuming. It has never been and actual thought…it just never occurred to me consciously. And again, there is another lesson here on how we see the world through our lens, but still it’s not the point I want to make today. I’m trying to stay on topic here.
What hit me was that each of us has the power to change our hills as much as we had the power to create them in our minds in the first place.
Whoa!!! Hold on….keep going.
Look, I’m going to take a side route here from the things in life that truly are hills that we must stay on as long as they are there. There are things that happen TO US in life that we need to strengthen ourselves for. We need to learn and practice mental endurance because those things are part of life and we must stay in the game, we must press on, we must CLIMB.
BUT (I want so bad to change the font of that BUT to about a 1000….so just imagine it for me because I’m fired up here) let me ask you this all-important question…
What “obstacle” or for the sake of staying on our metaphor here, what mountain are you getting up every stinking day and climbing and it’s nothing more than a hill YOU’RE CREATING IN YOUR MIND? It’s there waiting for you when you wake. It’s there when you sleep. It’s there when you go to bed, brush your teeth, breathe, or try to breathe.
And if you don’t have any of these, good for you. You’re special (sarcasm). I bet you do though. I do.
Here is where my mind was on a regular basis. This is what I was telling myself. These were my mountains:
Written like I would hear it…
You’re not smart enough (this is my childhood plague).
You’re not fit enough.
You’re too much for people.
You’re too bossy. (I’m an oldest child, this may actually be the most true 😂)
You suck as a boss, wife, mother, daughter…pretty much suck in general.
And God forbid I mess something up in our bank account….OH MY GOD HOW DID ANYONE EVER LET ME START A BUSINESS!!!!!! This could take me down for days. I’m guessing because it played so well into my belief that I wasn’t smart enough. No! It proved it!
What are your mental mountains or hills?
I’ve been doing a lot, and I mean a LOT, of work on these thoughts. These days these thoughts come to mind less and when they do I have built in tools (in my mind) to get them out faster. I even have something that is working like a charm for my middle of the night worry time that had tortured me for years. I’ll tell you about that soon.
But this all leads back to what hit me on the bike last week when I “saw” in my mind, all of the hills of everyone in my class…
We built the hill, we created it, we are its breath and life that keeps it alive in our mind. WE CAN FLATTEN IT!
Yes, trust me, I understand that the first toss of dirt that began the mountain may have been thrown there by someone else. I realize that many of us are carrying around insecurities and fear that began from somewhere, or usually someone, outside of us. But how long have WE been piling dirt onto that mountain long after that situation or person has quit.
I can’t tell you how often I hear literal quotes from women of something a boy said to them in elementary, middle or high school. They can quote what that person said word-for-word. What if that person was a parent, or a grandparent, spouse? Words hurt and they leave wounds. Very often words are thrown at our feet and instead of walking away and leaning into our truth, realizing that people that say hurtful things are usually hurting, instead of all of that, we believe them. Then we spend the next 20, 30, 40 years piling on our own dirt until we’ve built a mountain of untruth and shame and fear and anger.
I spoke with a woman who claimed she was no longer hurt by it but still recanted the day a boy in school looked at her and placed her name in the lyrics of the song, “_________ got a big ‘ol butt.” “Oh, it doesn’t bother me anymore”, she says with tears rolling down her cheeks. He threw the first pile of dirt, she has spent years piling it on.
Believe me sister you CAN do the work of ridding that little shit-head from your mind. But first you have to stop piling the dirt on. You and only you have that power.
Here’s a hill I see a lot. I’ve named this hill the “Hill of Day’s Gone By.”
If you were ever an athlete in high school or college, or if you ever competed in a competition that required athleticism, or possibly worse if you ever competed in a body building or figure competition, this may be your hill. You’ve seen your body at its peak, or at least you think, and it looks nothing like the body you have now. With my clients, because I myself am nearing 50, my clients, typically, are too, that time where our bodies were “ideal” was a LONG time ago. These people are sitting at the bottom of a very big, often unrealistic, mountain unable to even begin the climb because they either, one, fear they will never get back there, or two, know the actual work it took to get there and just don’t want to do it anymore.
The amount of times Rob and I hear high-school, glory days stories would pay for our kid’s college if we charged five bucks to listen. Rob will often just throw it back in their laps, “That doesn’t count now buddy. What did you do today?” Rob’s grueling, time-consuming, muscle taxing Ironman training has made him extremely intolerant of BS from men who like to talk a big talk about their football days. Rob was a swimmer, football player and ran track. He’s seen his share of victories and his parents saved every newspaper article to prove it. Yet he knows, that was yesterday’s victory. He got the praise, the awards, and yep, I’ve seen the pictures, the body, that keeping up with three sports would reward you with. But two kids later, we too went through our period of time that we let ourselves go. He was fully sporting the dad-bod. But now he gets up at 3:45 am Monday through Friday to get stuff done. He is literally running, biking and swimming miles (yes swimming miles) every day, every week, so that he can reach the finish of the Ironman competition and claim today’s victory.
So, if your hill is the “Hill of Day’s Gone By” you’re most likely in one of two places:
You’re still sitting on the top. Your victory is years ago. Life moved on and so did your waistline but mentally you’re still living in the past. It’s time to get off the hill and start a new one. Here’s the beauty, while you’re at it use the momentum of coming off the hill to push yourself up the next one. You know you can do it. You know you’ll have muscle memory at some point. But don’t sit at the top of a 30 or 40-year-old hill fooling yourself into thinking that there is anyone there but you. Go grab yourself a victory today. You’ll feel so good.
Here is the other option for Hill of Day’s Gone By, you’re at that bottom of the hill and not wanting to start because it’s a long way up. You don’t want to do the work all over again, this time maybe with a body that is a few years older, and has a few more aches here and there. If those in the last scenario were being honest with themselves, I bet this is really one of the greatest reasons they sit at the top of the hill and stay there…they don’t want to admit they are really at the bottom. Here is the greatest power you have at your disposal; admit you’re at the bottom of the hill and start. All you have to do is something, anything. Start again.
This next self-made hill may be my favorite. I love a coaching session when this one arises.
The hill of perfection:
“Jen, I’m just a perfectionist.” Really?! At what? Because if you’re a perfectionist there should be something you’re actually PERFECT at. If you’re a perfectionist, I mean this is THE identity you’ve given yourself, then let’s see the proof. What exactly are you perfect at? And if you are truly perfect at something, anything, then you my friend should be raking in the dough at whatever it is your so damn perfect at. That makes you an expert. But you know, and I know, and everyone else knows you’re not really perfect. In fact, you don’t believe you’re perfect at anything. Your perfectionism is just a front for non-activity. It’s a stall…it’s all smoke and mirrors for what it really is, procrastination. Perfectionism is most often the mask that procrastination wears to hide its identity.
So here you sit at the bottom of the hill called perfection, procrastinating. Why? Fear? Fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear of your pants falling off in class? What? What’s the fear? You have to name it. You have to call it to the freaking matt. You have to get it out of hiding and shed light on it. Fear hates light. Drag it out to the light.
All of these hills have one thing in common. And I’ll warn you, if you have built one of these hills you’re not going to like this. Here it is; if we could take all of these hills and give them all one, all-encompassing title, if we were to pile all of these hills into one mountain and give that mountain a name, we’d call it Mt. BS.
All of this is just one level of BS or another. It’s all lies we tell ourselves, and here is something that may surprise you. Sometimes we lie to ourselves because we haven’t yet built up the mental strength to fight. Sometimes we lie to ourselves to give ourselves an excuse to stay where we are…yes even if we are miserable where we are.
The lies may have started as dirt someone else threw on our hill, someone else spoke to us, or even believed about us. But their words, or their beliefs, do NOT make it true and it does not get to decide that it’s our TRUTH. You do. You my friend have 100% control of the size of that mountain. You do. Period.
Here is what I saw last week as I saw all the hills. We each have our own hills. The size is proportionate to our perception of the struggle, time spent on the hill, mental toughness, and a million other factors. But there is yet one fact; we, and only we, are the one with the ability to flatten that hill. And that is why I love visualization in my class, with my clients, and for myself. It can be accomplished in an instant. And by that I mean that mountain can be flat in an instant. Done. The work of keeping the hill small or flat will take time and practice and we’ll get the opportunity to practice over and over. But one day, one day you’ll have a moment like I had. You’ll have the moment when you “stand up inside yourself” and your own mind comes to battle for you. And that is a glorious day that is when it all becomes worth it.
See the hill. Now see it melting into the sea. You have that power. And you’ve had it all along.
Mothers with daughters, if you are putting yourself at the end of your list of things to take care of you are teaching your daughter to do the same. You can like that or not, but it hitting an uncomfortable spot doesn’t make it less true. More is caught than taught.
Imagine your daughter where you are now. She has many demands; children, work, household, volunteering, and who knows what else. She is tired and at the end of her rope. What is your advice to her? Just keep going? Just dig in and work more? Keep saying yes to things that drain her? No. You’d tell her to stop, take a vacation, take a breath. If she is hating on her body, you’d tell her to take care of it. You’d tell her that she matters and those little hellions, I mean angels, will survive if she takes a bit of time for herself. You’d tell her to put herself at the top of her list because you love her and want her to be healthy and sane.
If you want these things for her the best thing you can do as she is growing up (and even now if she is already grown) is to model what that looks like. Her survival through your “me time” will give her confidence that her children will also survive in her self-care absence.
I’m always so proud of our moms who bring littles to the gym in dancewear and karate gi’s. We have a big table in our lobby and the kids hang out for 30 or 45-mintues while mom or dad get in a Spin class, then off to practice they go.
Do you know how many parents will sit for hours watching their child play a sport, or practice a sport, but for some reason think it’s not okay to have their child sit while they do their thing. That’s crazy.
My daughter Chloe was a swimmer from 4-years old through her junior year in high school, making her state team all three high-school years. I have spent my time in the bleachers for sure. And seriously, swimming is the worst! Three days of hotel, 4-hour car ride, board the dog, eat at restaurants, buy the over-priced swim meet sweatshirt, sit in an uncomfortable seat for 25 hours all to watch your child swim for 28 seconds. Hopefully less! Don’t get me wrong, she is leaving for college in a couple months and I’m already missing those days. However, I figure after all of that time I spent watching her chase a dream, if I needed her to wait for me for 45 minutes to get in a workout it was teaching her several things.
I know that last one sounds harsh. But trust me my kids are loved, and they know it. We spend more time together than the average family, I’m certain. Yes, it may be at our business, but it’s still together. I homeschool my younger and we spend many hours in my office at the gym doing science and grammar. My parents owned their own business as well, so this is the only “growing up” I know, because I literally lived in my family’s business. We lived there. So, I know what this life is like as a child and now as a parent. And boy do I have a new appreciation for my parents.
So maybe your “me time” is that time you need to start the new hobby you’ve been wanting to take up. Do it. Do you know how much better a mom you’ll be if you are allowing your creative genius to escape on a regular basis?
Maybe you have wanted to start a side-hustle, or main-hustle, do it. Your daughter will see you making your dreams matter.
Are you sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. Show your daughter what it looks like to set a goal, make it a priority, and get your health back. Your whole family will benefit. I know this one from personal experience.
This is a 5-year journey between the photo on the left and the one on the right. And if you think my body changed....that's nothing. It was the mental work that really mattered. More on that later.
Here is the key - That desire you have deep inside you, the one that feels trapped. Let it out. Show your daughter that it matters. As she grows, becomes more independent, has a family and a career, she too will go through those years where she loses herself. Show her how to get back to her by YOU GETTING BACK TO YOU.
Your greatest desire for her, model it. Don’t spend your life telling her “Don’t do what I did,” even if you feel it’s too late. If you’re reading this, it’s so not too late. Get your body back, light your passion up, start that business, go back to school. Whatever it is that would make you more you, do it. Show her how it’s done, even imperfectly, and most of all show her that it matters. Show her that how we take care of ourselves matters. Show her how that dream matters. Show her that she matters by making YOU matter.
Okay, so, I started to end this post right there. Felt like a fairly good ending. Maybe not “mic drop” worthy, but pretty close. But I couldn’t finish without acknowledging a couple of things. If this has made you feel worse rather than better and fired up, I’m going to guess that one of two things may be the case.
First, this was never modeled for you. You may have had a mother who never taught you that you matter. You may have not grown up with a mother in the home at all, or maybe you had one in the home but not present. There are a million scenarios that we could come up with here. Bottom line is you have no point of reference because you don’t know what a healthy level of selfishness looks like. That’s ok. This is a skill and a skill can be acquired. I too lost myself along the way and had to work to get me back. It wasn’t easy but it’s been worth it. Zone was born from that. This blog was born from that. So much good has come from that. And all along the way I talked with Chloe about it. I have been a super role-model at times, and at times I’ve failed and had to ask her for forgiveness. I don’t know if she understands or not. I don’t really expect her to…now. I know, one day she will. She will be a mom, she will mess up, she will ask for forgiveness and she will think of me, and then she will know. I am ok with all of that process. So, even if it’s messy, find a starting place, get help, get a coach, join a group. Just do it.
And to make sure I'm being 100% here I must admit to you that my youngest is permanently scarred from me leaving him, not just once, but twice! Once I left the gym and forgot he was there. I was home, glass of wine in hand when the phone rang. One of my instructors was on the other end, "Did you forget something?" And then there was the time that I walked away from the cart he was in at Target. Just left him there in the aisle. He had to climb out of the little child seat thingy and come find me. Y'all, take my advice with a grain of salt. I'm just doing this thing too. Some days better than others. I think therapy is a good thing. Now he and his therapist will have a few topics to dive into. You're welcome.
The second thing I must mention before I finish is because I’ve coached enough women to know that I have just thrown a big pile of overwhelm in some of your laps. You want it. You believe me. You’re ready but you don’t know where to start. My answer; anywhere. Do not overthink this. Find one small step you can take and just start. Sign up for the class, go check out the local gym, go for a run…do something, anything. And don’t get ready to start. Do not go buy the paints and then not paint. Don’t spend hours setting up your office or website or researching your side-hustle. If you want to run a half-marathon don’t just download plans. All of this just getting ready to do something. Take action! Do something today! Now! Let’s pull a Mel Robbins here and 5…4…3…2…1…GO! Do not hesitate, do not overthink. Do it. And tonight when you tuck your little lady into bed, tell her that you did something today that made you proud of yourself. Tell her. Share the journey with her. Not your plans, but your actions. You’ve got this!
Jen Mulford is an entrepreneur, speaker, author and champion for personal freedom.