room on the edge

inspiration (+ a push)

Putting off getting fitter or slimmer? 7 Steps to help you Get on with it!

Ow! everything aches!! Today I officially started my 31 Day Challenge to lose that not so little bulge round my middle that I’ve been putting up with for far, far too long.

Why now?…  Well, why not now?!   I’ve been hiding behind words up till now…

Time to come out into the daylight… The shift happened for me, mentally and emotionally, several weeks ago. I was Taming My Dragons, as one does on a Sunday afternoon in leafy Hampstead, (fantastic course!), when a single sentence hit me like a brick and I had one of those ‘aha!’ moments.

I was in the middle of an exercise designed to change an unwanted behaviour. My unwanted behaviour was putting off exercising indefinitely. The conversation went something like this:

Aina (coach): “So, what stops you doing exercise?”
Me: “Being reminded all the time that I should do it”
Aina: “And how do you feel when you’re told you should do it?”
Me: ” I feel annoyed – he should be able to love and accept me how I am”
Aina: (brick sentence!) “That’s interesting coming from someone who’s on a self-development course…”

And so her sentence hit me, simple as that – why on earth was I being so stubborn about starting to exercise in order to care for and improve MY body? The stubborness evaporated right there and then, and I no longer felt annoyed. I even accepted, right there and then, an offer from a fellow Dragon Tamer to send me a 31 Day Challenge exercise programme – just 20 minutes per day – that I could do at home without needing gym equipment.

Yet when I get back from Dragons, I didn’t immediately start exercising as I’d intended. I downloaded the 31 Day Challenge and then somehow didn’t read it for days. When I finally did, I took ages to digest its 52 pages. Then, last week, as old habits die hard, I tried everything to ‘accidentally’ not be able to be taken to a Kundalini yoga class with some friends… but somehow they tracked me down, picked me up (thank-you guys!) and I spent two blissful hours (yes, blissful) actually exercising instead of working!

This week, I know I’d like to go, but again can feel the excuses welling up inside me – I can’t afford the time, my cash flow is too tight, it’s Harvest Festival at my son’s school (!!) etc. etc. But, I know this is just the same old Dragon, wanted to keep me just how I am, playing the same old self-sabotaging tricks on me…

So, today, having successfully avoided jumping out of bed and doing any exercise at home this morning, I decided, albeit skeptically, just to get on with it (the 31 Day Challenge) and simply make a start right now and see how it goes. Stepping right into the Dragon’s mouth…

What changed then to allow me to start?

1. Finding a strong enough Negative Motivation or a Kick up the Ass!! – Stepping into the elevator at my parents’ apartment, I was greeted with my own full-length reflection in the mirror (is that really me?) and it became crystal clear to me that it would please me so much more to look at this reflection again if I didn’t have that not-so little wobble round my middle.

2. Making a Definite Decision – I just decided, right then, gazing at my own reflection, that it was no longer necessary for me to carry round this ‘extra’ bit that I don’t need.

3. Changing the Way I was Looking at It – One of the fab Philosopher’s Notes distinguished the difference between ‘exercising’ as an end in itself and ‘training’, which is how athletes approach their fitness programs. So I just needed to find a specific goal or target to work towards – in the elevator, looking at the wobbly bit, I reminded myself that it’s just about one month (31 Days!!) until my brother and his wife arrive for a visit. So my self-talk was ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to not have this wobbly bit by the time they come?”.

4. Being Brutally Honest with Myself or Being Totally Vain! (whatever!) I’ve been working on a slideshow presentation for Aina’s Body Transformation Programme, which starts in the new year and I want it to be authentic. How can I do a presentation about overcoming the blocks that are stopping you having the body you want, if I’m not doing it myself? I think I want to prove to myself that I’ll only be doing the course as a coaching exercise rather than actually needing to do it! How funny is that? How vain am I?!! I can’t bear the thought of admitting to myself that, aged 42, like a lot of other people my age, I’ve let my body slip into a middle-aged I’ve-had-children-you-know shape. Why do so many of us let that happen?

5. Finding a strong enough Positive Motivation – Also, as if all these conspiring factors weren’t enough, I interviewed Winifred Whitfield last week, who makes beautiful idealised portraits of women. Our conversation set me thinking too – we were talking about the positive effects of seeing a beautiful image of yourself every day. Looking in the mirror today, I was aware that, with a little extra daily effort, I could appreciate myself looking great rather than OK. Who wants to settle for OK for the rest of their life?

6. Turning the Big Fear into a Single, Simple Action Step – So, after all that, I have actually started – hoorah!!! How? Well, I took the rather daunting 31 Day Challenge 52 page document and I copied out the first exercise set – Set A, nothing else. Then, I just read the instructions for Set A and followed them blindly. I didn’t have to think too much at all – it was just a case of getting on with it. Tomorrow the same for Set B… one foot in front of the other, one step at a time.

7. Know That if You’re Capable of one Step, you’re capable of more – Having done Day 1 (hoorah!! what a momentous event!), I look forward to 20 minutes worth-it pain per day now! I know my muscles will hurt tomorrow and that I’ll likely be reluctant to do Day 2 – but not quite as bad as my reluctance to start in the first place. I’ll need to encourage myself as much as possible and remind myself of all these 7 reasons to keep the momentum going. And let’s see if me, the great starter and not-so-great finisher can keep something slightly unpleasant (for the moment at least) going for 31 days…

Thanks here then to Paul Mansfield, (Black Belt & Dragon Tamer) who runs Martial Arts Mastery Derby for sending me the 31 Day Challenge!! I’m doing it!

What about you? Want to get ahead of the New Year Resolutionaries already?

Please feel free to share your own comments and motivational tips below !!

(Taming Your Dragons is running again in February 2010 – click here to find out more.)


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