Let’s Talk about: The Long GameMay 23, 2022
At the end of March, I was super motivated after a full three months of pursuing my new health goals for the year. I shared, liberally, about my physical journey of exercise, healthy eating and gut health practices.
Then April dawned.
Within a week, I recognized an old, familiar feeling creeping over me. Permeating my attitude, mindset and even my motivation.
I call it the “what’s taking so dang long” syndrome.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. You were probably able to name it long before you got to that sentence. It happens to all of us, with every long-term goal we embark on, no matter who we are or how long we’ve been at it.
It showed up in little ways…
- That pair of pants that didn’t quite fit last week STILL don’t quite fit this week! WHAT?
- The list of workouts seems awfully short, doesn’t it? Where’s the variety?
- Gosh, I’m sure tired of logging every gram of my food… does it really matter?
But that’s all it takes, isn’t it? No matter what goal you’re working toward, or habit you’re building, those little questions, doubts, and offenses start distracting you from where you’re headed.
Of course, it’s easy to SAY things like “hey! Keep your eye on the prize! Don’t lose hope, don’t give up. You’re doing this for ‘future you,’ so keep going, you’ll be happy you did!” It’s even easier to say those things to someone ELSE.
But what about when it’s you. Staring at myself in the mirror, discouraged that my progress seems small, those platitudes only get me so far.
Until I remembered, there really is no “finish line.”
Life, growth, health - it’s a long game, and if you’re not looking at it from that perspective, you WILL get discouraged.
This year, however, is my year to get STRONG. Initially it was just physically strong, fit and flexible - but it’s become bigger. STRONG in every aspect of my life - emotional, mental, spiritual - with the physical as an object lesson. One I can see and touch.
As I began to share these things with my friend and accountability partner, Personal Trainer Pam Sherman, we decided it would be a good topic to have a real and honest conversation about on my podcast. We were right! It’s a good one! You can find it here: Episode 87: Let’s Talk About: The Long Game.
While this all started with my own physical journey, and that’s what most of the conversation revolves around, it’s a very short walk to apply these principles to every growth area of your life.
Having that conversation was really helpful - it gave me answers - but I still need to apply them. So I’m sharing them with you, in order to help ME apply them and hold me accountable.
First, we should define “the long game.”
The long game: until you're no longer living above ground. *sigh*
There are some areas in life that really never end - health/wellness, personal growth, spiritual growth, mental wellness and acuity - these have no finish line. Once you calibrate to understand this is ALL a journey, then you can work on a few others. They won’t sound new, necessarily, but we all need reminders, and these are timely.
Tackle These Mindsets:
Eliminate Negative Self-Talk: Letting go of your negative thoughts about yourself, all of them, is truly a long game. It’s also something that is usually ingrained in your thinking, which means you have to be dedicated and intentional about it. There are practices (see below) you can implement, but it has to begin with awareness and a decision.
If you say things to yourself that you would never even think of saying to another person, it’s time to really pay attention. These show up most readily when you’re frustrated, angry or upset. When they surface, take note, and decide to speak/think something else. Your brain defaults to the negative, but you have the ability to flip that.
Integrate Gratitude: Develop practices daily of gratitude and appreciation. This can be as simple as (my own practice) of writing three things I’m grateful for, every morning. Pam gave the example of taking it one step further byt naming three positive things about yourself.
She does this with any client who is stuck in the “negatives.” She’ll sit there for 5 minutes waiting on you, if she has to - it’s that important. I can promise you, she will NOT let you speak in negative terms about your body - I tried once on a call. I thought I was being descriptive, but she stopped me COLD. Shut me down, saying “I don’t want to hear it.” It put me on the path to changing the way I speak about my body. THAT’s the kind of dedication you need to stop the negative and develop gratitude.
Respect Yourself: It’s time to respect your body and mind - they got you where you are today. Once you understand everything your body has accomplished just to get you where you are today - you WILL treat it with more respect. Especially if you’ve been through some big things like giving birth to a child, battling cancer, surviving a traumatic injury or running a marathon.
When you respect your body enough to make better choices, you’re also respecting and benefiting your mind. Your body and your mind - these are the things that will carry you for the long haul. All the way to the actual finish line.
Give yourself grace: All changes take time - in habits, mindset and results. Give yourself that time. There’s always a difference between your body image and your actual body, and Pam noted, “the body you’re living in now, is a direct reflection of what you’ve been doing over the last 6 months.” We’d like to think that what we ate this weekend is reflected on Monday and by the time Friday rolls around it’s gone. Nope. It’s the same in your habits and your mindset. I have learned that peace comes from being consistent in the uncertain in-between - when you’re not yet where you want to be, yet you know you’ve made progress. Give yourself the grace to be at peace with it.
Develop Some Wellness Practices:
Log your food: Obviously this is for the health and wellness area of your life, but you can easily cross-walk it to others. The discipline of doing the small things that will keep you accountable to yourself, help you grow, and benefit the development and achievement of your goal is imperative. If this is something that comes naturally to you, awesome! For the rest of us, though, this is a challenge. It’s a habit you have to build, with each instance being a small vote for “the person you are becoming.”
Move Daily: Incorporate some kind of movement and strength training. It doesn’t need to be much. Pam’s mantra is “just a few minutes a day,” and I can promise you, she’s right. I recently tried to increase all my exercise (cardio and strength), and couldn’t figure out why I was feeling so fatigued and my left shoulder hurt. Well, she pointed out that I’d gone too far. She told me to back it off a bit and “wa-lah!” I felt better.
Drink water: You feel better when you’re hydrated. Your body will function better, feel less fatigued and more resilient. Your brain will function better, giving you a leg up on your mindset. When you feel better, you tend to think better. No one is getting any younger. No one gets a pass on aging. Taking care of your body now, means aging better.
See YOURSELF everyday: This isn’t just about self image or being able to see the changes in your body. It’s about seeing your own strengths. Your unique abilities, your unique beauty. This helps develop your self-respect. Gives you more confidence to make new choices - Pam said “it’s empowering to say, you can do something different.” She’s so right.
When you have the ability to make a different choice that respects and celebrates the future to which you are striving - that’s empowerment.
Talk to yourself with kindness and love - only: This feels redundant to state here, but it’s that important. One of the BEST ways to end negative self talk, foster gratitude and build self-respect is to speak to yourself with love and kindness. When you do that, you are more likely to believe that you CAN make new and different choices. The kind of choices that will take you to a different destination than where you were headed yesterday.
Figure Out What Keeps YOU Motivated:
Everyone is different, but these are universally helpful, and a great place to start.
Start the day off strong: All you need is 15-30 minutes of physical movement 6-7 days a week. It’s easy to think you don’t have time to put “yet one more thing” in your morning, but even 15 minutes of bodyweight strength training will make a difference. The key is to DO it - and do it with accuracy and consistency. Just reducing the amount of cardio and switching up the weight size I use on my left arm made all the difference. So more isn’t always better, “better” is better. Doing a little bit well, makes the difference.
How you do anything is how you do everything.
Find yourself accountability partners: Committing to the work, doing the work, can be highly satisfying. What happens, though, when you hit that “why is it taking so dang long” wall? You reach out to your partners on the journey, and get your strength from them. I have several. Pam is my accountability partner for my food and exercise. My husband is my accountability partner for my spiritual practices. The Launch From The Beach community is a whole group of accountability partners for my business goals. It makes a difference.
Setting your mind on playing the long game is a process that can take years. Having the support and the strength of others on the journey is imperative. When I look at women like Pam, who has been doing this work for 25 years, I find hope that I can do it too. Just the fact that she can do 10 pull ups is amazing to me, but she said “I’m not a superhero - I’m just a woman who puts the work in.”
So, how do you (and I) become STRONG - physically, emotionally, mentally & spiritually?
Put the work in.
Find yourself a partner or community to support you along the way.
It’s a fabulous journey - this road to “STRONG.”
Want to join me?
To learn more about, or work with Pam: The Perfect Balance Guru
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