Testing your mental conditioning through awareness.______________________In my introduction last week as The Derailleur at Terry Bicycles, I mentioned that I coach, among other types of clients, athletes of all shapes and sizes on their mental conditioning. Your body can be as fit as an elite athlete’s but if your mental conditioning is lacking, you may perform like you have “cement shoes” (as my friend from Jersey says.) So what is mental conditioning? I know you are about to click off this blog because the last thing you need to be told is to do more exercising. But listen up, this form of exercise is important. This isn’t about your athletic strengths; this is about how you show up on a day-to-day basis in your life. This is about how your mind performs.
I am…a Derailleur.
I am…a Certified Performance Coach.
I am…an agent of change.
I am…a firm believer in getting outside and playing.
What would happen if you stopped holding yourself back?
What would be possible?
We so often blame the world around us (and those who inhabit it) as to why we aren't going anywhere or making significant change. We claim that "someone" or "something" is holding us back. And yes, this is partially true.
"We" are the "someone" holding us back, not someone else.
No one can hold you back...just your belief that they can.
So what can you do today to break the habit of holding yourself back?
A fantastic reminder of what "Mindful Eating" means shared by Ginny Erwin MS, RD, CSSD, CPT;For many people nutrition and diet are synonymous. However, over the past seventeen years of practicing nutrition counseling, I know balanced nutrition is more of a mind set than a prescribed diet.
I have been fortunate to be a part of many emerging theories and practices of what makes up how, what, where and why we eat. The actual food we put into our mouths is important, however, there in one thing that separates a balanced way of eating from a "diet", and that is the mindset of that person who is making those food choices every day.
Want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer? Look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular physical activity are hard to ignore. But let’s address the most forgotten and underdeveloped muscle in our bodies. This muscle is often our weakest muscle but one of the most important muscles we could strengthen. So while you are making resolutions to get into shape in 2013, don’t forget to include exercising your “Change Muscle”!
Where exactly is your Change Muscle located? It actually covers every inch of your body and every inch of your mind. It’s the muscle we use for creating changes in our lives, and like our physical muscles, it becomes weak if we don’t train it. Ariane de Bonvoisin, introduced us to our Change Muscles in her book “The First 30 Days.” She suggests our Change Muscle develops from “all of the changes that we have been through – the big ones, small ones, unexpected ones and the ones we have initiated.” And if we learn to strengthen our Change Muscle, it can become the most useful muscle in our bodies! The stronger it is, the easier it is to navigate change. Increased comfort with change means increased comfort with anything that comes our way.
Strengthening your Change Muscle is similar to strengthening your physical muscles…it means effort, a little sweat and incredible results if you stay dedicated. For the beginner it is important to build a base of core strength and flexibility before moving on to more complex workouts. The same can be said for strengthening your Change Muscle.
Step 1: Assess your fitness level and your Change Muscle strength. You probably have some idea of how fit you are physically. Assessing and recording baseline fitness scores give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. The same is true for assessing your level of strength of your Change Muscle. By determining how quickly you traditionally navigate change, how often you get stuck in change or how much change scares you; you will have a good sense of your Change Muscle fitness level. If your answers to these questions include “change is hard, change is paralyzing or change is terrible” then it requires a different level of strengthening that if your answers are “change is ok, I welcome it”. Assessing your comfort level with change is the first step to understanding the work that your Change Muscle needs to become strong and powerful.
Step 2: Design your Change Muscle fitness program It's easy to say that you'll exercise every day. But you'll need a plan. As you design your fitness program for your Change Muscle, keep these points in mind:
- Consider your change fitness goals. Having clear goals can help you gauge your progress. Determine what success looks like and estimate how long it will take you to strengthen your Change Muscle to the level you desire. And be realistic. If you haven’t used your Change Muscle recently, like a muscle in your body, it won’t snap back into shape immediately. It will take time. But remember the rewards of putting in the effort.
- Put it on paper. A written plan may encourage you to stay on track. What change are you focused on and how will you know when you are successful? By writing it down and logging your progress, you dramatically increase your odds for success.
- Go at your own pace and load gradually. If you're just beginning to exercise your Change Muscle, start cautiously and progress slowly. The goal is to gradually improve your range of motion, strength and endurance for your Change Muscle. Not to burn it out in the first workout. By increase your load gradually the little changes that once seemed huge will appear tiny in the rear view mirror. By starting small in the beginning you will ensure sustainability in your workout. And your body gets used to the new challenges you introduce to it. With each day, you will build up the stamina of your Change Muscle.
- Build activity into your daily routine. Finding time to exercise your Change Muscle can be as much of a challenge as finding the time to work your physical body. To make it easier, schedule time to exercise your Change Muscle as you would any other appointment. Plan to take 5 minutes a day to exercise your Change Muscle and focus on the change you wish to make.
- Deliberate practice. Daily effort and deliberate practice will be key to your Change Muscle. Like anything you practice, if you “half attempt it” you will get “half success.” So practice the change with dedication, intention and mindfulness.
- Allow time for rest and recovery. Many people start exercising with frenzied zeal — working out too long or too intensely — and give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured. Plan time between sessions for your Change Muscle to rest and recover. Don’t try to change everything, all day long…remember that with 5 minutes of practice everyday, the Change Muscle will get the workout it needs and the recovery to continue the change the next day. There is a great deal of “under-recovering” in workout regimes as we seem to try and make up for all of the time we were not working out, but this creates burn out and is unsustainable.
- Fuel your Change Muscle properly. Like with any workout, the body needs fuel to continue its effort. The same with your Change Muscle. No fuel, no energy to face changes. The fuel to provide your Change Muscle? Motivation and celebration! By charting your progress, celebrating small victories, or inviting a friend to join you in your “change-workout” will increase your success exponentially.
Now you're ready for action. Remember to monitor your progress and listen to what your Change Muscle is telling you. Too much too soon brings pain and decreases your chance for success. Not enough effort won’t give you the results you want and you’ll give up sooner. Picking the right “equipment” for your Change Muscle workout is also important to your success. Your equipment may mean exercising with a friend who may also be looking to make similar changes so you aren’t working out alone. And if you do lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Stay creative and keep things fresh.
Starting an exercise program to develop your Change Muscle is one of the most important decisions you can make. But it doesn't have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can establish a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime. And like any good exercise program, small movements, gradual load increase, deliberate practice, and rest and recovery are key components to strengthening your Change Muscle.
If you are still unsure how to strengthen your Change Muscle in 2013, please reach out to one of our Coaches at The Coaching Center of Vermont and we will collaborate with you to create an exercise program for the most important muscle of all!
But in the end, the only steps that matter are the ones you take all by yourself.
What steps are you willing to take before the end of 2012?
There are few more satisfying rites of spring than the annual spring-cleaning of our homes. For many of us in Vermont, spring means scouring our front entry room of salt tracked in and the mud from the inevitable mud season. Clearing out snow boots, mittens, and warm winter hats is also in order. We scrub the windows; we change out heavy winter blankets for warmer weather covers, and dust our surroundings from top to bottom.
For many people, however, the pleasure comes only after the work is finished. Paula Simons of Finely Organized, a professional organizer offers us that “The new beginnings of spring always seem to energize many people with the inspiration to reassess, among many things, their personal belongings. Spring-cleaning is a wonderful opportunity to clear out and donate the items you no longer use, need, or want, and to take charge of your space. The act of de-cluttering and organizing your stuff frees up your mind to think about the things that are really important to you.”
So what if we took the time this spring to not only clean out our physical spaces, but also the other parts of our life creating clutter? What if you took the notion of spring-cleaning to clean out the clutter in our minds, or our finances, or our personal network? Spring is a great time to remove the tolerations in our environments that keep us weighed down, or worse, keep us from growing!
So this notion of cleaning your other environments is based on the idea that there are 9 environments that surround us. Most of us know about the physical environment – where we live, where we work, but there are 8 other environments that support us (or derail us). The 9 environments include the physical environment, the financial environment, the memetic environment (your thoughts), the network environment, the relationship environmental (AKA…your inner circle), the self-environment, the spiritual environment, nature environment, and the body environment. Our environment always wins. We have the choice to have our environments support us, removing obstacles or draining factors that ensure failure. Or we can choose to ignore the obstacles and have them work against our dreams and us. In fact, by creating a supportive environment, our environment does most of the heavy “lifting” allowing us to reduce our energy output and save it for celebrating our success.
Sheer will, determination and stubbornness have a finite tank. Eventually, we will run out of will-power fuel. If our environments create obstacles, our determination and will power are spent fighting the challenges and we lose energy…fast. If however, the environment is designed to support us, we have to use much less willpower fuel (if any) and we flow through the change feeling supported and successful. With designed environments will power and commitment become optional.
So what happens when our thought environment (memetic) or our financial environment are cluttered? What happens when they have the proverbial “mud” stuck to them? They drain us of our energy and drag us into summer. They way heavy on our minds and keep us from being able to move forward. Or grow, which is the purpose of spring, right?
Imagine if your mind is full of “should” (I should do this, I should do that, I shouldn’t do this, I shouldn’t do that”)? Your mind is cluttered with one of the worst draining thoughts you could have and it keeps you from being able to move forward. What would happen if instead you took a little Windex (or in this case, positive mantras) to those mind cluttering negative thoughts and said instead “I am able to do this, I am able to do that, I am capable of this, I am capable of that, I believe I am this, I believe I am that.) That is a much different kind of conversation to have with ourselves. And since we are what we think, we are changing our belief pattern to what we CAN do, not what we can’t.
Ok, so let’s look at our financial environment (I literally just heard you groan). Most folks do not have a strong financial environment. And by strong I do not mean a LARGE financial environment meaning having copious amounts of money. Instead I mean that you feel you have a handle on your finances, understand them, value them and feel good about money in general (even if there is very little in your bank account). If our belief pattern around money is that “money is bad, money is scary, money is confusing”…guess what? If we are what we believe, than in this case, money will fight us every step of the way. Our bad relationships with money will haunt us even when we have money. For example, we have all heard of lottery winners who win millions of dollars only to be broke in less than 5 years. What happens? They have a poor financial environment. They might not value money or they may fear money. So money is poorly managed and handled. So have the courage to be rich – at least in the sense of valuing money. One step towards creating a strong financial environment is to clean out our wallets or purses of those receipts littered everywhere that might help us with tax deductions or at least with keep track of where our money is going and file them. Then arrange the money in the wallet to face the same direction. Treat it with respect and you will take the first step towards building a strong financial environment.
These are two examples of de-cluttering the tolerations in our environments that keep us from success. So why not “throw out” those things that have been weighing you down this winter and make room for growth? Try Comet on your kitchen sink and try zapping some tolerations in your other environments. And just like spring-cleaning, it will feel so good when it is done!
For more information on Environmental Design, please contact Amy Magyar, Performance Coach and Owner of FromWithin Coaching where she can help you put on those rubber gloves and help you get “Cleaning”!
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Being Elmo…“The Single-Minded Pursuit of Excellence”
I just watched an inspiring documentary called “Being Elmo, A Puppeteer’s Journey.” It is the true story of Kevin Clash, a Jim Henson “Muppeter” who as a young boy was fascinated with puppets. Kevin did not come from a white-collar suburban neighborhood of Chicago, where the family sat down in front of the TV every morning before school and work, but instead struggled to feed themselves, keep the roof over their heads and fight to survive. The projects of Baltimore across from a polluted river were where Kevin practiced his craft under staggering odds. Upon seeing Sesame Street for the first time when Bert and Ernie addressed him directly (or so he thought thanks to the magic of Jim Henson), he was captivated and knew that this was what he was going to do for life. The New York Times called Kevin's life "A Single-Minded Pursuit of Excellence." I call it inspiring.
Imagine being a boy at age 8 sewing, playing with puppets and talking in a falsetto voice in the “hood” of Baltimore? Then imagine what it was like for him to be a 17 year old doing the same thing. He never quit. Imagine the pressure he felt, the “shoulds” he ignored, the bullying he withstood….why? Because he LOVED something so deeply and KNEW that it was a part of who he was.
Thanks to amazing mentors such as Kermit Love, the man who taught him to hide the seams in the puppets, Jim Henson who gave this young 18 a shot on Labyrinth, and his parents who instead of getting upset that he ripped the inner liner of his Dad’s coat out to make a puppet, supported him 100% in his dream.
I couldn’t help but be in awe of his dedication, his vision, and his belief that he would someday be on the Sesame Street set as a puppeteer. He did not change who he was, instead he went out and found a way to make a living out of his passion. And he never doubted himself.
He had thousands of external obstacles in front of him, but not one internal obstacle. Poverty, friends who disapproved, a million in one chance to meet Jim Henson and a one billion in one chance to work for him….but he did not doubt. He is a shy, unassuming man who admits that his own shyness has kept him in corners at parties and yet, if you have watched his Muppet, Elmo in action, you would never say he was scared or shy of anything. Elmo is full of life, love, and curiosity. What would it be like for YOU to live like Elmo? To live full of life, love and curiosity?
More importantly, what would it be like for you to live like Kevin Clash? Priceless.
So if you have a chance, invest in 58 minutes watching this move that will make you laugh, cry and get your courage up to live a life that is authentic and whole like Kevin has. And ask yourself when in doubt “what would Elmo do?”
Thank you Kevin for showing us what life is like inside of the most famous Muppet on the planet right now and what it means to live a true life. Enjoy….
It is the choice of attitude that sometimes is your only choice. But it is a choice.
How many times have you been faced with a situation and realized that you have absolutely no control over it or the outcome? What would happen if the one thing you had control over in the situation is a choice of your attitude towards it? Suddenly, when you feel you have no control, you do have control over how you perceive or respond to the situation. Decide to get mad, decide to find the lesson, decide to look ahead...you have a choice. You always have a choice.
So when you are faced with no choice situation, remember you will always have a choice...and that is how you feel toward the situation. And which response and feelings you have towards it is up to you. And only you.
"Remove the old garment which no longer suits you
and step bravely into the new one - weaved from an awareness gained after years of struggle and pain.
Do not lose sight of who you are in that quiet space - where only reality exists.
You've paid a high price to get here -
no sense in giving it all back.
Your life is here and now
Be present for it.
Live it wisely."
Thank you Mimi for sharing such an inspiring message....your timing was perfect.