I took a look at the numbers that people had previously put up for this same challenge last spring and learned that absolutely no one had deadlifted under 200 lbs. Well, I’d stopped deadlifting for a little while to reestablish a strong foundation that would eventually allow me to get to that number but, after talking to Sean, we’d decided that 185 was probably a good conservative goal for October 4. I. Was. Gutted. How embarrassing would it be if everyone hit a number in the 200s+ and I was the ONLY one — a PERSONAL TRAINER — who was still in the 100s?
After some friends I’d opened up to said, “WHO CARES what other people put up as long as you do your best?”, I finally decided to listen. I decided that I would walk into the gym and just do my best every time. Of course the first few times I walked in, the recording in my head sounded very sarcastic but eventually the recording started saying, “Do your best and KICK SOME ASS!”
Here are 5 things I am mindful about as I try to dampen my perfectionist tendencies and get out of my own way:
- Decide, once and for all, that I am doing this fitness thing for ME, first and foremost. I think we get distracted with thoughts of, “My doctor told me I need to lose this weight,” or, “I’m doing this for my husband so he can find me more attractive,” or, “I’m doing this for my kids because they depend on me being healthy.” Those reasons are 100% valid but I’d like to rephrase them to sound more like this: “I want and need to be healthy so I can feel my best every day and live life to its fullest.” “I want to be strong and reclaim my body so I can feel confident in my own skin.” “I want to learn to move better so I can be an active participant in my children's’ lives and keep up with them.”
- Understand the only way to get better is by NOT being perfect. Because if you’re perfect, you have no way TO get better. The scary part about this is allowing yourself to put your ego aside and embracing the possibility of being in the room with people who know more than you. And, frankly, that is what you should want because THAT is how you’ll learn and get better.
- It does not matter what anyone else in the room is doing. Women often tell me they stay out of the weight room because they’re scared of being judged. It can be intimidating for sure! The thing is, though, if the other people working out are really there to exercise, they won’t care AT ALL what you’re doing. So what you need to do is focus on your program completely so you can tune everything else out. One way I help my clients get over this fear is by creating their own programs that they work on for 4-6 weeks plus another program to do on their own. Over those weeks, I can progress my clients as they get stronger, plus they keep track of and write down their own weights on their program sheets so that they can actually SEE the progress they’ve made over that time on paper. They also become better acquainted with the exercises themselves and become autonomous, fit human beings! It becomes all about them and their accomplishments and all the worry about anyone else melts away.
- Have FUN. If your training isn’t fun (and, by the way, hard work really can be fun if you’re with the right people/in the right place) and fulfilling, don’t keep doing it! Find something else active to do! Have you ever said, “I really don’t like running but I do it anyway because I know I need to.” NO!!! That is one sure-fire way to either run your way to an injury or to give up altogether. There is SO much out there for every personality: From Zumba to strength training; from Crossfit to yoga. If one mode of exercise doesn’t feel right, explore another one. Sometimes all it takes is to quit being so serious about the workout and lighten up!
- Take it one habit/one day/one good choice at a time. Don’t think you need to be “on” all the time. There are days I walk out of the gym thinking, “Well, that workout SUCKED. Oh, well, the next one will be better.” And there are times I eat a chocolate-covered pumpkin-shaped marshmallow but instead of beating myself up about it, I let myself enjoy it and make better choices after that. Don’t let that day’s happenings dictate how the future will unfold. Fitness and nutrition are NOT all or nothing. All you can ask yourself to do is to be mindful with each decision you make throughout the day.
I certainly work hard at all of the above as much as the next person. And I think that, thanks to this work, I’ve been able to hit my deadlifting goal of 185 lbs three and a half weeks before the Challenge date! I fully intend to hit 200 by October 4th but as long as I do the best I can personally do, I’ll be proud that I followed through and accepted the challenge.