lessons learned so far

It’s been just over a week since I started doing the daily walk, and will soon be two weeks since I first emailed Britt with my marathon suggestion (or, as I call it, major brain meltdown). In all honesty I’ve had no real issues at all, I put this down to 2 things; firstly I’m doing pretty low impact stuff and simply making a few adjustments as part of the lead-up to “real” training. Secondly is my thinking (or “mindset”) which is doing a very good job of keeping me positive all the time.

the “magic” of mindset

Burning at the back of my mind is the purpose underpinning all this; namely to become fit enough to compete in and complete a marathon. Allied to this are other important things such as becoming a fitter, healthier person AND proving a point (that you can do anything if you control your own thoughts).

From that burning desire everything else flows freely. In a short space of time I’ve changed quite a few things and never really found myself resisting those changes. I think the sheer size and audacity of the goal helps here – everything else becomes a trivial matter in comparison!

So what lessons have I learned, and can they be applied to YOUR circumstances (answer is a resounding “yes”) ?

1. stop thinking, start doing

You can spend all day coming up with the reasons not to do something about your weight, fitness, job, smoking… Nothing is going to change until you take the first step. It all starts with a definite decision, followed by a simple action.

For example, you might decide to quit smoking then back this up with the action of throwing away your pack of smokes. In my case I decided to become fit and healthy – the first action was sending an email to Britt. (Notice how that didn’t even involve any exercise, or anything physically hard at all?)

2. make yourself accountable from day 1

You know what’s going to happen – it’s happened time and time again. The gym membership will be paid but you’ll stop going, the good intentions will fade away, the old habits will return… UNLESS you make yourself accountable.

You don’t have to go to the extremes that I have done (with a public blog and Facebook page) though I CAN thoroughly recommend it if you have any inclination to blogging whatsoever. Let a few close friends and family know what you’re setting out to do, ask them to be honest with you and tell you when you’re slacking off. They probably will never have to – once your plans are voiced to another person something happens in your own mind; the fear of public humiliation becomes a powerful motivator.

The other benefit of telling someone else of your plans is SUPPORT. It’s far easier to make changes if you have someone in your corner, urging you on. Accountability comes in stick AND carrot form šŸ™‚

3. knowledge is personal power

If your goal involves health and fitness, get a trainer or join a gym. If it’s giving up smoking call the Quitline. If it’s a career change or business idea, talk to the relevant people.

Not only will you get good advice, you will arm yourself with specific, useful, knowledge. The more you understand about the direction you are heading in, the better decisions you can make along the way. You can also avoid making the WRONG choices like following extreme fads, pushing yourself too far too soon etc.

4. small changes stick easiest

Don’t launch on day 1 with a complete lifestyle overhaul; take it baby step by baby step. The first thing I did was start walking the dog in the morning – simple! From this simple step I’ve added things like drinking water, walking more (e.g. getting off the bus a stop early), eating less, eating more healthily… If I had tried all those on day one I would have been back to the old routine by day two.

Change just 1 thing today, stick with it and it’ll soon establish itself as a new habit. Then add another small change, and another, and another…

5. walk first, run later

The potential downside of having a powerful, all-consuming goal is the frustration that you’re nowhere near that point yet. It’s easy to become disheartened because it seems that your “big hairy goal” is out of reach. You’ve got to manage your thoughts and filter those negatives out. The fact is that every mountain is climbed one step at a time, every major achievement comes off the back of an investment of time and effort.

As long as you keep working towards your goal, you will get there. The evidence of this is all around you. In terms of weight loss and fitness, just look at what the Biggest Loser contestants achieve in every single series!

So, while you might not understand how you’re going to get there, have faith that you will, step by step.

to summarise

The overriding lesson so far is that it’s all, quite literally, in the mind. Whether you find the process tough or easy, whether you accept change or resist it, whether you dare to dream or not… it’s all controlled by the way you allow yourself to think!

Now switch this computer off, make a decision and take the very first action – NOW!

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