Although my main focus is on psychology, I’ve had the privilege and advantage of working in a domain that is physical. For the last 5 years I have worked with people as a personal trainer and it has provided me with an insight into how we use our bodies and what that means in terms of confidence and ultimately, change.
What is one comment people make when they see someone who is confident?
“They are so comfortable in their own skin”
Yet as a personal trainer I can see that, even when you take away the psychological side, there are aspects that make that statement impossible to achieve. Horrific nutrition, excessive sitting down, over-stressed can result in you moving and feeling like
Over the years I have learnt a lot about people’s attitudes to their body and also the stepping stones to change that is universal whether you are looking for fat loss or change.
Here are 5 learning lessons I’ve learnt and as you read them, maybe you can see where you have found these to be present in your life
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I always comment to my PT clients, if people vomited as soon as a McDonalds touched their lips, obesity wouldn’t be a worldwide epidemic. Both fortunately and unfortunately, we are MUCH more adaptable than that.
Look at health like an expert would describe a saving’s account; It’s best to start early and reap the benefits of cumulative returns later in life. Yet if you only start to think about savings when you are 50, it can be considered too late to make any real impact.
The same is true for health, you don’t want to be thinking about health whilst staring out the window after a triple heart bypass.
So I connect health to a higher value, in the same way I always say that confidence should be directional, namely towards a higher purpose.
People don’t want confidence just to have confidence, they want confidence because they are more likely to be more successful in attraction, more likely to get the promotion, the jobs that yield the big money.
Health is the same. You become healthy because it gives you more energy, less illness, and perhaps more importantly you look better.
Without fail, around a couple of months into having PT, a client will have a moment of despair that ‘everything’s ruined’, ‘I’ve failed’.
As a PT this is expected, to the client its a disaster. It is here I remind them that, what we do here, is not for a specific period of time, it is to set them up for the rest of their life, to create habits that will ensure they are healthier than they’ve ever been.
Failing, faltering, falling flat on their ass is the nature of habit building. In an experiment conducted on habit building, researchers has participants carry out a simple task such as having a drink of water in the morning.
In the end they found that the time period it took to make the act a habit was 66 days. They also found that there were times where the participants didn’t do the act. They missed days and yet they still made it a habit because they continued.
With confidence, there is an attitude you are developing, but you are also creating new habits and as a result there will be times where you revert back to old habits. Hesitation about contacting new people for work, speaking to a person you don’t know, being judgemental about yourself.
The important thing is to notice this, brush yourself off and get on with it again.
I had a client who came to me last year who liked to drink beer, like to eat a lot of take aways, didn’t do much exercise. Vegetables was as foreign as meat to a vegan. We started with small steps, reduce a pack of crisps to once a week. Once this was habit we moved onto something else to tweak. All the while we were having out PT sessions.
Fast forward 6 months and he’s lost a great amount of weight and doing a weekly 24 hour fast. What do you think he’d have done if I suggested a 24 hour fast at the very start? He’d have broke his running record just getting out of the building, that’s what he would have done!
But here’s the thing; he wasn’t the same person at 6 months as he was on day 1. He changed and so, what he saw as possible had changed as well.
Part of increase confidence is altering what we see as being possible. This is why the traditional SMART goals can fail; sometimes you are setting the goals in a state where just surviving a meltdown would be considered success. What kind of aspiration is that?!
This is why it is so important to continually check in with yourself and note where you are, where you’ve come from (in terms of progress) and where you’re going (in terms of possibilities).
“Im fat, I’ve definitely gain weight”
“How do you know?”
“I just know, I can feel it”
“Measurements show you haven’t gained weight, in fact you’ve lost ½ inch off your waist”
The above interaction is common if I encounter a client in a low mood. Our mood has a large effect on what we pay attention to. If you are in a low mood, it is common to focus on what can fuel the low mood.
This is the same in confidence. If you are experiencing a low mood, comparisons can creep in and all of a sudden you are comparing yourself to every person within the nearest vicinity.
The gym is a breeding ground for this. You just deadlifted your maximum, but it doesn’t matter because the person next to you just deadlifted double. In a high confident mood it wouldn’t matter, you’ve just lifted your best goddammit! In a low mood, your record lift may as well been a failed lift!
As you look to increase your confidence and what you’d like to direct that towards, be aware of what mood is influencing what you are focussing on.
I was speaking to a friend recently and he asked, with athletes, all things being equal what is most important, conditioning, nutrition or mindset. He was surprised when I said mindset. Let me explain; when you perform at a high level, it is very common to know and be practicing the same stuff, yet if you’re mindset is off, they’ve lost before it’s even started.
In PT, it is commonly the first time someone has been pushed beyond their level of physical comfort. They’re sweating, they’re tired, they don’t know whats going on – prime time to quit but the role of a PT is to recognise they have more in the tank even when they think they don’t. Thats how progress occurs and it is EXACTLY the same in confidence.
Pitching for a new job when you’re nervous as hell.
Presenting to an audience when every fibre of your being is pulling you off the stage.
Going into meet a group of people you don’t know that you think are on another level to you.
It will our brain that can give up first. It is important to practice hearing that voice and moving forward despite it.
As a continue personal training and coaching people to perform to a higher level with newly ignited confidence, I continue to see similarities and cross overs in how humans deal with challenge and how they change in an efficient way.
Your focus is no different to when standing on a stage ready to speak to a crowd or standing before a barbell ready to lift your record. You’ll either do it or you won’t – progress is what you do next.
What About You? What is THE most valuable lesson you’ve learnt in your career so far?
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