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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Big Click

I've been thinking a lot about how being on a fitness/nutrition program can either be relatively easy or freaking impossible. It feels to me like a train track - if I'm on the rails I'm great, chugging away. If I fall off the tracks, getting that locomotive going again is gonna take some heavy machinery!

Hiking around this weekend with The Husband, we had a conversation that led to this theory, which is not yet fully formed:

Imagine that you are on a path. On one end is an image of Who You Are. On the other is Who You Want To Be.

Imagine that you are, in fact, dreaming. When you are awake, Who You Are is Unlimited Potential. But since you're dreaming, you instead have a picture of yourself, which we'll call Who You Imagine Yourself To Be.

OK, so you're standing on this path, trying to take small steps (i.e. meet goals) to get from Who You Imagine Yourself To Be to Who you Want To Be.

Imagine that these two images are magnetic, and you're a magnet. So, you're being pulled towards each of the images, but more strongly by the image that you're closer to, and moreso sometimes than others (as the magnetic force is variable depending on circumstances).

Ok, so, for one person, Who You Imagine Yourself To Be may look something like this:
  • Size 12/14
  • Professional, career aspirations
  • Wears black
  • Likes cats
  • Drives a Ford Taurus
  • Tends to overeat, loves pizza, ice cream, cheese and crackers
  • Hates exercise, not athletic
  • Loves to read mystery novels and watch movies

I'm writing kind of silly details because that's the stuff that makes up Who You Imagine Yourself To Be. There are so many of these silly details that you've created quite a complex imaginary world!

OK, so you're on the path, and moving toward Who You Want To Be, but it's tough because Who You Imagine Yourself To Be is still the stronger magnet, since you're closer to it. At times it may be easier because you recalibrate the magnets by getting help, setting goals, etc., but in general each step is tough.

But, at some point you reach the center of the path and the magnet of Who You Want To Be starts to pull on you more. Each step becomes easier. You don't have to engage so much willpower to get to the gym or eat well.

But then your Who You Imagine Yourself To Be magnet goes ballistic, gets super ultra strong, and yanks you back towards the old habits or just somewhat off course. Or perhaps there are other magnets on the path that do this, I'm not sure. Anyhow.

The point is it got easier, but then sometimes it's hard again or feels impossible.

BUT sometimes magic can happen.

What happens?

You revise your image of Who You Imagine Yourself To Be to be closer to the truth of your unlimited potential and closer to the image of Who You Want To Be. When the image matches your goals, it gets super easy. It's like these images are holograms, and a new data load can revise them.

For instance. That description up there? That was me 5 years ago. It's not who I am now. At all. I've spent a lot of time and energy moving towards Who I Want To Be, but it wasn't until I installed new data in the Who I Imagine Myself To Be image that I went easily from a size 10/12 to a size 4/6, from being stuck at 140-150 pounds to 128 and shrinking, from pushing myself to work out to begging for my workouts so that I would be strong for my outdoor activities.

I'm focusing on fitness goals because that's my particular obsession. I believe that this applies elsewhere.

Who do I imagine myself to be now?

  • Size 4, naturally athletic, strong, and lean
  • Creative, free individual with many irons in the fire, many of which earn good money
  • Wears bright colors
  • Total dog person, though cats are ok too
  • Drives a Subaru wagon covered in mud, would love a sports car for the weekend
  • Talented healthy chef who loves finding ways to make healthy food taste good
  • Loves to move, dance, hike, swim, run, play! Can hardly stand to sit still long enough to read all the interesting books out there!
  • A badass - the only chick in my gym working on her clean and jerk

And so, this being my image of myself, there aren't two forces pulling on me all of the time (not, of course, that there isn't data that still needs or will need replacing). How much easier if I had figured that out from the beginning!

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