5 years into this here fitness business and, holy moly, nothing like growing up in public to make you want to crumble in any pursuit. "Failure is beautiful, blah blah blah blah," they say. Yeah yeah. It is. However, it still hurts like crazy. And I don't blame anyone for ever calling it quits when the grind becomes a Groundhog Day of Failure Overload. But, I will say that one of the greatest gifts of still being here is that I've been able to witness firsthand some really powerful "myths versus truths" about the pursuit of human wellness. Here's 5 of the top ones. I hope they blow your mind a bit, as they have mine:
#1. Your weight is not controlled by exercise, it’s adjusted entirely by nutrition and very much dependent on genetics.
Period. Exercise strengthens you, improves your brain function, provides you resiliency, makes you playful, optimizes your metabolism, gives you a reason to wake up, and utterly changes your life for the better. But, does typical exercise help us lose weight? Nope. Nada. Get over it. Face the truth. Unless you’re doing a ridiculously abusive program where you burn more calories than you eat each day, get off the idea that your workout is gonna make you lose weight. This is liberating! Why? Because you get to take back exercise for what it is truly designed: Access to pleasure, to endorphins, to your true self, to the hum of your mojo, to your deserved and needed physical strength, and to the fighter in you.
#2. Weight loss is a terribly ineffective and perhaps even dangerous goal.
I know with 100% certainty that weight loss is something that causes the human mind to completely melt into misery. Yet, we still try. We still get conned into that idea being a good one. But, I promise you, trying to lose weight will never work. And, along with it not working, you will get depressed. However, if you focus on fighting to show up and fighting to be a rebel in a world that wants you to consume blindly? Done deal. Guess what, while you’re fighting for that, your body will lose the extra weight it doesn’t need.
#3. Most of us are miserable, busy, and stressed because we are abusing our brain function every second of every day.
We all feel rushed, we all feel irritated by our kids, and we all feel on the brink of meltdown. Why? Because our brains are constantly being pinged by notifications and emails and events and messages and we can’t ever really be anywhere. It’s biologically impossible. We are destroying our attention span and attention span is the access to joy and fulfillment. Why? Because we can’t go deep, we can’t think clearly, and we can’t connect with each other and with information. So, it’s not meditation you need or self-work on how to be happy. It’s doing a very simple thing: Simply get strict with your digital use. You don’t have to abhor the medium or cancel your accounts. Just get smart. Get protective of that which makes your world colorful and worth it. Try this: 1) Turn off unnecessary notifications; 2) block internet usage while doing work/tasks/deadlines; 3) stop reading emails and social media when you open your eyes in the morning (shower, exercise, breath first and then dive in) and stop the screens right before you go to bed (30 minutes is the key time to provide restful sleep); and 4) Don’t allow phones while with people. If you can’t do it to be a polite human, do it because you’re exhausted with feeling drained and irritated.
#4. Humans are rarely motivated to get fit for fitness-related reasons.
You see, being truly, sustainably fit requires one thing: Consistency with daily activity and exercise. Weight loss isn’t enough to get you there, I promise. Getting a six pack isn’t enough. Being a better mom is not enough. Combating addictions is not enough. Being without pain is not enough. You think they should be, right? You see all these people seemingly changing their bodies and their lives because one of these motivators finally clicked, right? NOPE. DOUBLE NOPE. First off, some of those folks might be suffering from a compulsive exercise disorder, just watch out. But, you know what changes us legitimately, in a real way? When your need to be fit becomes a response to two things: 1) A rock bottom; and/or 2) people are holding you accountable.
Rock Bottom Motivation: When shit gets handed to you and you hit a low, that’s a motivator. And the essence of that is the beauty of surrender. You say to yourself, at long last, “FINE, I’m a screw-up. This isn’t working. I’ll do ANYTHING.” Surrender. Works every single time.
Accountability: If being fit becomes your job, this means it becomes your connection to providing worth and value to the world. It becomes your willingness to participate, to face failure, to be vulnerable, and to be a part of a bigger piece. And when you're facing the boss or your group of amazing friends or you're put in a pressure cooker of showing-upness, guess what? You'll usually take action.
#5. Self-improvement "work" is for the birds
We hear it all the time: Get more rest! Turn off your phones! Meditate! Stop eating sugar! Ask for help! Delegate! And we try, try, try, try and fail, fail, fail, fail. And we assume something is wrong with us. But, it’s often not our fault, but rather that we’ve put self-improvement in the wrong container of "Big Life Work." This reality was handed to me recently through the expert guidance of someone you all need in your life, Catherine Seaver, executive strategist. I was struggling with too much on my plate and not enough to show for all the hustle. More work than profit. More hustle than return.
So, Catherine suggested I join her in Seattle for a strategy session where she and an incredible consultant, Katya Matanovic, would dig into the daily operations and to-dos of MommaStrong. The goal was to help me identify what was feasible to do and what to prioritize, rather than just be a reactive CEO. And, I tell you what. It was a magical land of markers and white paper and two brilliant women boiling down every aspect of MommaStrong into digestible nuggets. Fierce, this was.
And, at the end of the session, can you guess what the number one thing was on that list? Get ready for it: Sleep. Now, I’ve known this before. A gazillion incredible people have told me that my level of sleep deprivation is dangerous and a liability to my business and my life. And, while I heard them and while I wanted desperately to make that change, I still couldn’t do it. I couldn’t. I would get close and then I'd attach all this stuff to it: Self-worth issues, past trauma, single mom drama, yada yada. It got SO BIG that I couldn't even take a bite. However, Catherine showed me something powerful: When we take self-improvement and self-care out of the personal landscape, we can then retrieve it from the dark, smelly rabbit hole of our subconscious and our isms. By doing that we give ourselves the gift of exposure and we give that huge problem area of our life less unwrapping to do. What if it we handled ALL self-improvement at an executive level? What if we started with that first and then let the healing happen as it needs to after? Executive care for self-improvement. How simple, right? And, FYI, It’s working for me. I’m now on week 3 of 7-8 hours of sleep a night, after literally TEN YEARS of maybe 4 hours a night.
Ok. That's all I've got. Maybe I should go take a nap. Zzzzzzzzzzzs are the new buzzzzzzz.
Go do your thing. Be human. Be graceful. Be powerful. Be smart. Be a rebel. And don’t get caught up in a current other than common sense wellness. Deal? Deal.
Oh, and if you would like to work with Catherine Seaver, click here to check her out ASAP. I love her tagline: "I specialize in showing entrepreneurs, who also happen to be mothers, how they can be focused and productive within the mess of life." And, a huge thank you to her AND to the incomparable Katya Matanovic for sharing their expertise and work in the world with MommaStrong.