Disappointment and dieting seem to go hand in hand. Failure and fitness has a pretty good ring to it too. But why, even though we want the results we know come from exercising and clean eating do we struggle to see through the commitments we make to ourselves?
Take new year. It starts with a flurry of activity. We feel lousy after December and the staple diet of roasted meat, champagne and mince pies. We’re ready to move on with something new; to get back to feeling good, or at least better than we have over the last couple of weeks.
So we do some push ups, eat some broccoli and buy some running shoes. We start to feel better. But for some reason we struggle to keep the momentum going. And it gets harder to see through the commitment we made to ourselves not 2 weeks ago.
So we stop doing push ups. The broccoli goes rubbery in the fridge and the running trainers still look embarrassingly pristine 12 months later.
We feel like we let ourselves down and as a result come to hate our inability to keep our commitments.
It was early 2006 and I’d been a bona fide personal trainer for a year. By now I’d expected to be getting calls from the stars to seek counsel with their training programme. I’d read like 2 text books and done a course. A COURSE. But the celebrities weren’t knocking down the door of my office (ahem, my bedroom) to work with me just yet.
So when I got invited to give a workshop on health and fitness at a local uni I jumped at the chance. I saw this as a chance to launch myself into the spotlight, along with the fame and fortune that’d come from reaching a wider audience.
At the same time I was seriously nervous. It would be the first time I’d got up to speak on my own in front of a room full of people. And after agreeing to do it I discovered I was actually really afraid of public speaking.
The day drew closer and each day I was supposed to be planning and preparing. But I didn’t. I put it off, told myself I’d do it tomorrow.
The day of the workshop came round. The organizer emailed to confirm the session was fully booked – 25 people were due to attend! While that doesn’t sound like much it was 25 times the number of people I was used to speaking to at any one time. So I did what anyone would do when faced with a life changing opportunity. I called the organizer and I lied.
I explained I’d just been notified my dad had suffered a stroke -which he had – and went on to give a heart breaking pitch about how I was still shaken up so understandably I wouldn’t be able to deliver the workshop.
The thing I left out was that my dad had the stroke months earlier and was well on his way to recovery. I also ‘forgot’ to mention to that when I could of been preparing I was too busy worrying about what would happen if I froze, or if my nerves made me throw up in front of a room full of people. I was totally unprepared, and my lack of confidence made me crumble.
WTF? why did I do that? Calling and cancelling fair enough. I can live with that. But letting a group of people down last minute? And lying about the reason why? Still ashamed of the way I handled that to this day.
After failing massively to take the opportunity given to me in 2006 I decided to get some help. While I’d tried bigging myself up by looking in the mirror and reciting the immortal lines from cool runnings:
Yul Brenner: Tell me what ya see!
Junior Beville: I see pride. I see power. I see a bad ass mother who won’t take no crap off of nobody!
But when that failed I reached out to Carl Hopkins of Kloog. Carl helped me out in the early days of setting up my PT business, and I knew he spoke to large audiences and delivered workshops on a regular basis. So I asked for help.
We met, chatted about what I wanted to achieve and what I had in mind for my talks. He helped me analyse my approach. He suggested ways I could make my points more relevant and interesting. He showed me how he planned his talks, prepared slides and refined the message he wanted to convey.
Carl gave me an insight into how to cope with the nerves tied in with doing new things. He mentioned that maybe the nerves would never go away, but a way to cope is by saving the worry for the moments right before the talk.
He spelled out that it’s OK to stumble, and that I should expect to bumble along a bit at the start. But eventually I’d find my stride and by the end they’ll probably have to drag me off the stage.
Carl gave me something that’s become an essential part of how I attack new challenges in my life: The 3 P’s. And these simple steps were the key to helping me overcome my failure at speaking in public.
Planning. This helped me get my head round what I’d talk about. How I was going to fill the time available, and what info and tips I’d share with my audience. The plan gave me a framework, and with that a level of confidence. It made at least part of the upcoming event ‘known’ in an otherwise unknown territory.
Preparing meant getting all the things needed for me to deliver the workshop to standard. All the props I needed. All the slides, and the equipment for the exercise demos. The preparation made my presentation more likely to be successful, because I’d have everything close at hand as and when I needed it, rather than trying to wing it.
Practicing was the final piece. Practice would give me a chance to get to thoroughly know my plan. To iron out any kinks and to realise what parts worked and what didn’t. The beauty of practice is it didn’t have to be perfect. So there was less pressure.
I came to realize that while comedians and other people who get up on stage seem like there performance is off the cuff, in reality most of what they deliver is planned, prepared and practiced ad nauseum.
Even great speeches like Martin Luther Kings’ ‘I have a dream’ speech delivered in 1963 in front of the Lincoln memorial had been planned, prepared for and practiced for a couple of years prior.
Apparently great things rarely happen by chance. And while MLK did freestyle a little during the speech (‘I have a dream’ wasn’t part of the original script, but a ‘lyric’ he’d spun at speeches and sermons past) the plan, preparation and practice gave a platform for one of the greatest speeches of all time.
While I used the 3 P’s to hone my speaking and presentation skills (still a work in progress!) they can just as easily serve you in pursuit of the fitness goals that are important to you.
You might start with the outcome you want; what you’d like to see happen as a result of your efforts and why that’s important. You might also include what you’re going to focus on doing each day to move closer to your goals; what exercise you’re going to do, where and when. And what foods you’re going to eat more of and what behaviours you’re going to avoid.
Your plan doesn’t have to be complicated. And it doesn’t have to be for life. Just enough to get you started on the road. It might look something like this:
What do you need to execute your plan? For the example above the preparation might look something like this:
– choose magazine with easy workouts in
– buy magazine
– join gym (or dust off current gym membership)
– book workouts in diary for the week ahead (like an appointment I want to keep)
– write shopping list for 3 days worth of veggies (6 varieties)
– buy veggies (6 varieties)
– prepare and put lunch salad/veggies in tupperware night before so can take to work
The beauty of moving towards healthier eating is every meal is practice. Same with working out. There’s no pressure to get it perfect. It’s just a practice that you’re trying to get better at. Sometimes you improve. Sometimes you don’t. But that’s cool, because each time you practice gives you a chance to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Practice shows you where you’re nailing it and where there’s room to improve.
Let’s say you wrote your 3 workouts in your diary and you made every one. Nice! (*follows with fist pump). But you ran out of veggies after day two. No problemo – note to self – add more veggies to shopping list.
“Ok Kieran” I hear you say, “that’s all good in theory. But I’m probably just going to nod my head and agree that it’s a good idea to plan, prepare and practice the things that’ll help me reach my goal.
“But for one reason or another I’m just not going to remember to do this. In fact as soon as I’ve finished reading this I’m going to get sucked back into my life and probably forget all about the 7 F’s (or whatever) and it’ll be like all that other stuff that I know I should do… but don’t”.
If you’re looking to make progress with your health and fitness and know it’ll only happen if you’ve got someone else on board to help direct your focus and set up a plan then let’s work on it together.
Like Carl helped me overcome some of the challenges I faced when trying to break through my public speaking fails, I’d like to spend some time with you to work on your plan for your goals.
So if you’re ready to refocus just register for a free consultation today or text me on 07766 808 553 and we’ll arrange a time to chat at the DF studio to thrash out a plan.
After getting some help I’ve managed to get up, tell my story and share the little knowledge I’ve gained on changing habits, getting fit and living a healthy lifestyle many times over.
And any time I feel like weaselling out of something I feel uncomfortable doing I think back to how I felt after backing out in 2006 and that’s usually enough to make me do what I need to do.