This is the 11th installment of the I Can. We Can. blog series by Fitness Firestarter, Kathy Palokoff, and Self-Care Coach Extraordinaire, Carolyn A. Brent.
I just had an average week. I didn’t hit it out of the park in terms of my fitness plan, but I didn’t blow it either. I pretty much ate like I was supposed to. I enjoyed Thanksgiving, but did not end up comatose on the couch. I exercised as much as I could, considering a bout with vertigo, which made aerobics and swimming pretty impossible. I kept myself moving and stretching, however.
I didn’t experience any highs or lows emotionally. I had a wonderful time with family and didn’t wax nostalgic about the ones who could not make it. I worked hard with my clients during stressful situations, but got it done. I finished a couple of big deadlines and did not do a victory dance.
Yep, it was an average week. And I realize that I am not very comfortable without drama. It turns out I am a bit of a drama junkie — something that probably doesn’t come as a surprise to my family and friends. Crying, yelling, laughing, singing, and arguing are all within my comfort zone. Excelling or failing does not send me on emotional rollercoasters, But average feels pretty blah to me, and I don’t like it. Average is boring.
I think this may be one reason why routines and habits seem so foreign to me. And this point of view is not great for self-care. Pretty much everyone I know who has succeeded in losing and keeping off a large amount of weight lives a life of habits and routines. They eat the same stuff every day. They keep a steady exercise schedule. Slow and steady is their mantra, and it works. They strive for average, drama-free living as they work toward their goals.
More than 30 years ago, I was at Duke University on a six-week intensive boot camp to lose weight. Most of the people who were attending were high-powered people like me. An instructor was leading a session on perfectionism. Her premise was that perfectionism in people who are striving for self-care leads to failure.
This was her logic. Perfectionists say they are going to exercise five times a week but if they only make it to four, they quit. Perfectionists need to find the perfect time to start a diet. If they “mess up” and eat something unplanned, they go full monty on junk food because they didn’t do their food plan perfectly.
“You don’t need to be perfect. Being average is okay,” explained the instructor as she asked, “What does average mean to you?”
You would have thought she had just played matchmaker between Donald Trump and Rosie O’Donnell. The room went crazy. “Average is settling for mediocrity.” “Average is not trying.” Average is giving up.” “Average is for losers.”
When the room quieted, she then asked a simple question: “Is there anyone in this room who would like to be an average weight?”
Maybe, I do need to embrace average.
Since we’ve begun our Fitness Firestarter journey, I’ve often wondered — and I have asked you to think about — why has it been so difficult for you to take your fitness journey to the next level, keeping your weight off once you lose it and losing more?
I had an epiphany when I read your words this week, and I clearly recognized a significant answer to my “why” question. You are a perfectionist, and ordinary to you means dull and unsuccessful. Having a routine, eating the same-old-stuff, and doing the repetitive, boring exercises is a drag for you.
I get it. Believe it or not, I suffered from boredom doing the same old thing of going to the gym, eating the same tasteless foods, and just being average. Because of this experience, I started looking into bodybuilding at the age of 54. I needed more, just like you. I needed a new challenge, just like you. I needed to surround myself with people who mastered their fitness goals and recognized their “why” just like you.
I needed to aim for new possibilities and be around champions. I needed to get out of my comfort zone, and so do you. Once I made up my mind not to be average, I committed to fitness at an entirely different level.
As a competitive bodybuilder, I have met the most extraordinary people who overcame life’s most difficult challenges — beating cancer, fighting chronic illness, overcoming pain, ending obesity, working out as an amputee, and much more. There was one lady at The National Physique Committee 2018 Awards Ceremony who won the Inspiration Award. Born deaf, she took her life to an entirely different level. She created a beautiful body and a fitness health institution, marketed to deaf-mutes. That’s how she took the blah out of her daily workout regimen.
I firmly believe that transforming your life through self-care should be for a purpose. You have to understand both the“why” and “how.” That’s what I did to take the blah out of my regular workouts because I know being bored is a distraction that will make any person quit.
So, Kathy, I challenge you to create excitement about why you are doing this. Then you can take the “blah” entirely out of the ordinary. My “why” was competing in bodybuilding, and I became a winner at age 60. What’s yours going to be? I expect to hear about it next week in this blog.