Curtis Robinson-NASM Certified Personal Trainer (Fitness and Nutrition)
Your mind, body, and emotions are so brilliantly intertwined it is often difficult to determine which part of you is expressing itself at any given time.
In my line of work as a personal trainer it is something I hear a lot of when people come to me for advice.
“I need to do something.” That’s what they say to me. They want me to simply tell them what to do in regards to getting fit. The thing is, they have already stated what they need to do! For most people, they need to do something, anything that will contribute to their own health and well-being.
The advice I give to people i meet is typically basic and I’m sure includes a lot of information they already know. Get active, commit to a clean eating regimen I tell them, and so on. Even 30 minutes a day of some light cardio will improve your health significantly.
We have that one thought, the one voice of reason in our heads that we know is true and we say it out loud. “I need to start working out” or “I need to quit smoking.” Then there is a flood of other thoughts that want to convince us that it’s not possible. “Not a good idea” they say, “I have bad knees it will never work”; “can’t do it”; “can’t afford it”; “don’t have the time”; “don’t have the energy”, and so on.
So now, I guess because I am a personal trainer, I represent the one voice in my prospective clients’ heads that is actually concerned about their health. So my potential client expects me to defend their one healthy thought against the barrage of oppositional thoughts that are weighing the person down and preventing this one action thought from actually getting the job done. Confused?
They have just made me the living embodiment of their idea to get in shape. Then they decide to become the living embodiment of their own enemy!
Let me be clear about something. If the idea of living with diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, morbid obesity, and a fair chance you won’t live long enough to see your grandchildren have kids, isn’t enough to persuade you to start investing in your own life then I seriously doubt that I am going to convince you to take care of yourself.
I cannot make choices for other people. When they decide for themselves to make a change I can help with that. It is my job to train and educate people. I can design programs scientifically customized to each individual person. What I cannot do is convince anyone to care about their bodies.
Health and fitness should sell itself. It is simply put “investing in your own life” and doing it consistently to ensure quality and longevity of life. I’m not here to sell anyone on my service. I’m here to provide services to people who have already decided to invest in themselves. I can help with the science and efficiency of meeting that goal safely.
You are that one voice of reason in you. You have to be the one voice of reason amidst all of those doubts. You are the one who is saying “Hey I need to do more for my own health! For my own survival!” You know what you need; you’ve said it out loud. You have also voiced all the thoughts that are convincing you that you can’t. These thoughts are opposed to anything that even smells like change or progress. If you’re in the “I need to” place still, then you haven’t decided anything. You are gathering information and flirting with the idea of change. But unless you align your will and actions with the one voice desiring change within you, you will continue to allow yourself to be aligned with the inactive, complacent doubt that is holding you back.
It’s our way of seeing if anyone is interested in the same idea and/or seeing if you will have a social life if you follow through on the idea.
If you think all of your friends and family will give you positive support you are wrong. You may love them and they may love you but because their mentality is not changing as yours is, they sometimes make compelling arguments as to why you do not need to change.
“Sounds boring, that sounds like no fun, sounds miserable, sounds like you are going to miss out on everything, oh you’re not fat, you look fine, one or two beers never hurt anybody.” Sound Familiar?
Without knowing it, in their efforts to be polite or complacent they are basically saying you are wrong. It’s sort of an invalidation that means you can’t think for yourself and should just do what they say.
When the rent is due you don’t spend a lot of time worrying about whether or not you should pay it. You don’t go talking to friends and family holding exploratory committees to find out what the popular vote is. You just do it. You pay the rent. You decided it’s necessary to maintain a residence.
Your HEALTH is necessary to maintain your primary residence, your body. Without health you will lose your body, without a body, well nothing else really matters if you lose your body.
I don’t waste any of my time convincing my friends or family to make different decisions. I don’t try and recruit them into a fit lifestyle. It’s their life and they are fully capable of risk assessment and making their own damn decisions. When someone decides to make a decision that leads them to me for advice I gladly help. It’s my job. I can tell people how to eat and exercise every single day. It doesn’t change anything. Only they can decide for themselves what they put in their bodies and what they do with their bodies.
I NEED TO DO SOMETHING BUT FOOD IS MY PROBLEM!!!! FOOD IS NOT THE PROBLEM IT IS THE WRONG SOLUTION! Without getting into eating disorders that spawn from childhood traumas (which are not uncommon) many people simply got behind on their fitness and health. And for many it just feels like a debt they can never pay now. This causes them anxiety and they treat that anxiety by continuing to eat and not exercise which leads to more anxiety. It is the solution causing the problem in a paradoxical cycle that can be broken.
“I need to”. I grew so tired of the anxiety and fear that is associated with knowing I need to do something and still never doing anything.
One day I started making small steps of progress toward my health. Each step gave me confidence that helped me reach the next step and I realized. I will either master my life or I will be a slave to another master. I started exercising. it took some time but I lost 30lbs. I kept it up and within a year I just gradually stopped desiring cigarettes, I desired that healthy feeling. It gave me confidence, cigarettes gave me anxiety.
Food, like a drug, triggers reward centers in the brain and chemicals are released into the bloodstream that leave us feeling good after we eat. Many people spend their whole lives trying to maintain a certain feeling.
Addicts and alcoholics are very efficient at maintaining their moods as long as the supply is available. It is the same way with food. It is often used as a tool to manage our moods. It’s a false solution. It’s easily abused. Food is here to provide energy for the body. Abusing its purpose sometimes feels good, hell it tastes amazing, but it has serious negative consequences just like drugs and alcohol.
The human makeup is so complex and every person so unique that there is no broad interpretation of why we do what we do. Only you can discover for yourself what is truly happening behind the scenes and propels you to behave like you do. Chances are it is a reward or punishment you are seeking.
I’ll leave you with these final thoughts. The correct action eliminates the need. The state of being in need can create anxieties and fears that will keep you in unhealthy habits. If you already know what you need to do you no longer have to convince yourself or anyone else. Just do it. As soon as it crosses your mind. You will see that even the slightest effort begins to cure you of the anxieties and fears that could be at the root of the real issue. Once you experience the benefits of something it becomes something you want to do, something you enjoy doing. There is no need to need for there is action. The right action doesn’t make you feel better about being in need, it doesn’t make you complacent in regards to your needs. The correct action eliminates the need.