This goes out to the people that say they want to workout, they may even start a gym trial here and there or pay for some expensive package but do not really follow through.
And despite wanting to be in better shape, for all the good reasons, you can never get there and stay there.
There are two main reasons we’re going to focus on why you’re not already in the best shape of your life:
- There is some benefit you are getting from your current less-than-ideal situation with health, fitness, or your body composition
- Being in the best shape of your life may be just outside of your Upper Limit for the positive or good stuff you will allow yourself to have (referencing The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks)
Even within self-sabotage, there are benefits that you get out of the sabotage, no matter how short-sighted they are. These secret benefits make it tough to quit these habits cold turkey and adopt the lifestyle we really want.
Below are a few examples one can get from sabotaging their health and fitness goals:
- Using extra weight (or under weight) as an “armor” and protection or way to “hide” from the world and from being seen
- Keeping a child-like or responsibility-free identity by not taking care of one’s health
- which may minimize other people’s expectations of you
- Using food as a way to deal with or numb uncomfortable or high sensory emotions
- Wearing an identity of illness or disease as a way to get attention or to prevent you from fully committing to living your life
- Maintaining connection with a group/culture/identity/label
- Reaching your positive health and fitness goals may threaten this bond
- Using an unhealthy lifestyle to punish oneself or confirm beliefs of unworthiness or wrongness
- Displaying a martyr identity where other people’s needs are always put before your own, which makes you “good”
- Even though giving without boundaries and from an empty cup usually leads to resentment and feeling obligated which is a lose-lose for everyone
Without identifying the benefits you are getting from your current health and fitness situation, it will be a very turbulent battle trying to change your situation. Even if the unhealthy health and fitness habits are mal-adaptive, often these benefits fills some need for safety, connection, or validation. This may take some mindset, meditation, or communication work to shift this strategy and fill this need with something that is more productive to the kind of life you want to live and the person you want to be.
For example, instead of using food to numb the uncomfortable emotions, maybe you journal, or listen to a guided meditation, or take a walk around the block, or scream-sing your favorite song in your car. Or instead of staying unhealthy to stay attached to a certain group or label, you try an art class or join a hiking group to meet new people or talk to a qualified person to help you set better boundaries.
Aside from the secret benefits you are getting from your current situation, even if you’d like to change it, getting in the best shape of your life, or even in slightly better shape, may be just outside of your Upper Limit.
Gay Hendricks in The Big Leap talks about how we each have an Upper Limit of how much good stuff and positive energy we will tolerate in our life. He references many famous and not so famous examples of people getting a huge raise or job accolade and then having a earth shattering fight with their spouse. Or someone finding real love but then suffering a large financial loss. Or having a big career accomplishment and getting terribly sick. It’s the Upper Limit problem. If you can’t accept too much good stuff, you’ll sabotage in another area or completely prevent yourself from getting there.
Our relationship with our body and health can be like that too. A healthy and fit body may be just outside of your Upper Limit of the good stuff you’ll tolerate. Maybe you have a good relationship and comfortable job, a good family life, and being in amazing shape would just be too much good stuff to handle. This is an Upper Limit problem but it can be resolved. Hendricks offers tools in his book, the Big Leap.
If any of these strike a cord with you, it may be something work looking into with the appropriate mindset tools.
The good news is you don’t have to be perfect or fixed to start slowly adding in healthy habits into your weekly routine, one teeny tiny step at time. Maybe it starts with a weekly walk or a homemade coffee instead of a sugar-filled cafe one. You can slowly add in these good habits one at a time as you build awareness and good tools to process the benefits you may be getting from sabotaging your health and fitness goals or expanding your Upper Limit of good stuff. It’s worth the effort, I promise.
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