We all know that our quality of life will be better if we are fit (get sufficient exercise and rest, eat a healthy diet, keep a healthy body weight). We also know we should pay our taxes and get regular dental cleanings.
I somehow forgot to show up for my cleaning 2 weeks ago and you’ll notice that the government doesn’t trust us to save our own money to pay our taxes — they take their cut right off the top, even before we get paid!
So it seems that if we don’t really like doing something or view it as a chore that we’re likely to neglect it — even if it’s something that benefits us.
I used a workbook awhile ago called Why Weight? by Geneen Roth. It’s an excellent tool and I highly recommend it. One of the exercises in her book focuses on your attitude towards weight. What do you associate with “thinness?” What do you associate with “fatness?” I don’t think that “thin” and “fat” are the most helpful terms. I like terms like “fit” or “active,” but those aren’t the terms she used.
But this is my blog so I’m changing the rules! YEAH!
So when you think about a “fit” person, what associations come to mind? I think a fit person is strong, committed, goal-oriented, motivated and capable. I associate positive things with fitness.
But not everyone does. For example, some people might think a fit person is vain, self-centered, air-headed or conceited.
These associations aren’t necessarily true. I’m sure there are a lot of fit people with positive qualities and some with negative qualities listed above. The point is, if you have negative associations in your mind about fitness, such as “Fit people are dumb and conceited,” how committed do you think you are going to be to your fitness program? Who wants to be dumb and conceited?
Think about the teen movie formula. The pretty, sporty girls are often portrayed as mean, dumb and often trampy (there’s an old word, we don’t say “trampy” very often). The klutzy girl who hates sports is often the heroine (hello Twilight). Look at movies like Mean Girls where, once Cady starts caring about her appearance she turns into a major bitch. And Regina George channels her anger issues into lacrosse. What kind of positive fitness role model do you see here?
One example of a negative association Geneen Roth uses is “Thin people are vulnerable.” Yikes, that doesn’t sound like a good thing! If you believe that being “thin” is dangerous, you are likely to avoid behaviors that will make you thin (this is why being “fit” is better than being “thin”).
So if you’re struggling with your fitness plan and you don’t understand why you’re having a hard time, I suggest this exercise:
1. Take out a sheet of paper and grab a pen. Don’t use your computer.
2. Write down 5 things you associate with being fit.
For example: Fit girls are nice. Fit girls are bad at science. Fit girls hurt puppies. Whatever. Get it out on paper.
3. Write down 5 things you associate with not caring about fitness.
For example: Girls who don’t care about fitness care are less shallow than fit girls. Girls who don’t care about fitness are weaker than fit girls. Girls who don’t care about fitness are better drivers. Just write.
4. Write down the benefits being fit brings to your life.
Being fit means I am confident about my body. Being fit means I am healthy and strong.
5. Write down the benefits being unfit brings to your life.
Being unfit means I eat whatever I want. Being unfit means I don’t receive unwanted attention. Being unfit allows me to focus on more important things.
Once you write down your responses, check to see if you have any negative associations with fitness. If you make sure your belief system about fitness aligns itself with your goals, you’ll enjoy an easier time working towards your goals.
When you picture a “Fit Girl,” what qualities does she have? What does she wear? What does she do? How does she act? I’d love to hear your thoughts!