The Importance of Perspective

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Today I want to share two stories. The first is about me…and you..and working to improve ourselves. The second is about a woman who has done incredible things to improve her health and her body, and will keep doing even better things as time goes by.

The story of me and you.

I’ve recently been doing a lot of soul-searching and personal growth. I’m trying to take more risks and get more done. But for someone who has been a little too comfortable with the status quo for too long, it’s difficult to make those changes. So today I was looking around a blog called 99U, which is a creative/ designer website geared towards helping artists and designers find success. I’ve found that my business is very similar to freelance creative work, so I’ve taken a few hints from them. Today, the theme is Focus on the Process, not just on the Desired Results. We spend so much time worrying about how something will turn out, or how I will appear if it doesn’t come out well, or if I fail, or what things will be like once I reach that goal.

Unfortunately, focusing so much on the outcome leaves us little time to actually work on the process, getting the actual work done to get there. And I realized that fitness works in much the same way. I spend most of my first meeting with clients discussing goals and outcomes, which everyone gets excited about, but very few people understand the process of reaching those goals. I’ve been giving you tips about arriving this concept of “health”, and my goal is to help you with the process, but often times I get stuck with these will be your results instead of take these steps to make progress.

Which is silly. Especially because fitness and health aren’t endpoints, they’re a continuous process that you will literally have to work on for the rest of your life, as long as you want to be healthy for the rest of your life. We also have to realize that there is a whole continuum, a whole range of health levels to fall between, and it’s not a matter of having health, but improving or maintaining a specific level of healthiness. So as we continue this writer/reader relationship, remember to focus on the process of getting and staying where you want to be, because really, you’ll be in that process for the rest of your life.

Putting Things Into Perspective

I have been meeting with a woman at work for a few months now, and she has made an incredible improvement to her health and life. She has worked extremely hard to lose nearly 50 pounds over the past year. Anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows that 50 pounds is an incredible number. She has been focusing on the process the whole way. She cut her portion sizes in half, she went from having debilitating pain in her knees and other joints, to having run three 5k races in the last three months. This woman has worked so hard, and she knows it, and I know it. But a few weeks ago we spoke, and she was upset that she hasn’t been losing any more weight. She is still very much overweight and still suffers a great deal of pain. She’s had a few setbacks with her eating habits and exercise habits, but we both know that she’s been working hard to get where she is. We talked about what kinds of food and how much she’s been eating, what kinds and how much exercise she’s been doing. We talked about the setbacks, and we talked about our goals. And then I had to do the hard part. I had to give her a reality check– I had to put things in perspective.

She’s been working hard, but now… she has to work even harder.

How could I do that? How can I tell someone who’s turned their life upside down to get healthy that she still isn’t doing enough? Because I had to be honest. And we need to look at things differently. For two reasons: 1, Because your definition of hard depends on where you are, and 2, Because you earn the body that you want.

The first part is very important. She worked hard– SO freaking hard– to get where she is today. It has been a constant struggle to stick with everything that she’s been working to improve. The problem was that she is still comparing herself to where she started out a year ago. Everything she does today to have the body that she has still seems like it’s as hard as it was on day one. But we’ve reached a benchmark. She’s reached a new level. She went from level 1 to level 5. But in order to get to level 10, it seems like we would need to do an insane amount of work. Level 1 to level 10– holy cow. We needed a shift. We need a smaller jump. We’re not in the process of going 10 levels anymore. We’re at level 5, we need to go 5 more levels, so start thinking that way. Everything that was hard at level 1 through 5 was hard, but now it’s just every day life, and her body knows it’s normal. We’re at a brand new level 1, and now we’re trying to get to level 5. And for those of you (including her) who feels like you haven’t gotten anywhere if we have to “start over” from scratch, put things in perspective. We’re never going back to that old level 1, so stop looking at it as level 1. That old level 1 is no longer even a possibility, because if we end up there again, we’ve done a huge disservice to ourselves. Today is a new baseline, a new level 1, and we can only go forward from here.

The second part is doing the work for the body that you want. I don’t know her weight, but let’s say she was 250 lbs. She’s been working hard to get to 200. But if she wants to be 150, she needs to eat what a 150 lb person eats, and she needs to work out as hard as a 150 lb person. I don’t expect her to do that today. I would definitely have not expected her to do that when she started. But if she wants to get to 150, she needs to work like a 190 lb person, then a 180lb person, then a 175 lb person. And if she wants to stay at 150 lbs, she needs to keep eating and exercising like a 150 person does, and can’t revert to the habits of a 200lb person, because guess what, she’ll get back up to 200 lbs. I’m not giving you these numbers to say what is good or bad. Each and every one of us has our own sliding scale of what healthy is for us, and what it will take to get there. But it’s a sliding scale, and everything is relative. I’m not saying you haven’t worked hard, and I’m not saying the process is easy in the slightest. This process is one of the most challenging that I’ve ever seen people go through. But I do want you to realize that if you’ve been working really, really hard for a really long time, it might be time to shift perspective. It was hard, but now I’m doing it every single day. For some of us, it might be time to work even harder. And guess what guys? I’m right there too. I feel like I’m doing everything right and working super hard. But I’m not successful yet, and I won’t be until I work as hard and as smart as a successful person does.

Let do this. Right now. Time to take life to the next level. Stay tuned, because that’s exactly what the next post is about.

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