Too Scary for the Beginners

Attitude can be a really big deal when you’re trying to make changes and set goals. Sometimes it’s one of the only things you can actually change in your world.

You cannot tailor make the situations in life, but you can tailor make the attitudes to fit those situations — Zig Ziglar

You can approach life with a positive or negative outlook. A lot of people who are just beginning their road to better health and fitness have become burdened down by the negatives in their lives. Negative emotions, self-image, job, housing, health. Sometimes you can fix these things, sometimes not, but the one thing you can always fix is how you see these things and oftentimes how you react.

Fat Pants fit January 2010
Fat Pants - 20 lb ago I had a muffin-top in these

When a person first begins, they start like a baby learning to walk. You have to do all the steps in the right order or it generally won’t have the best of results (in spite of the few oddball exceptions). Roll over, sit, scoot, pull, crawl, hobble, walk, run. Just like that. Most parents intuitively know this, and don’t go yelling “NO! Stay Down Where It’s Safe!”. Unfortunately, most outsiders aren’t all that supportive and utter blatantly negative statements.

Don’t run, it’s bad for you.
Here, eat, you look tired.
Why are you exercising all the time?
One won’t hurt you.
Take a few days off – you earned it.

Sometimes though, even very strong fit trained people will say something inadvertently negative, with far-reaching impact, and it never once occurs to us. How about a discussion like this:

Trainer: You should eat more cruciferous vegetables, which have many cancer fighting properties as well.
Client: Like what do you mean?
Trainer: Things like kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts..
Buff Friend>: Oooooh yucko! Brussels sprouts taste like nasty dishwater!
Client: Oh, never mind then.

For one thing, that’s only an opinion, probably based on a childhood experience. Many kids don’t like the stronger taste of cruciferous vegetables, but grow to like them as they age and their tastes mature. You have no idea what someone else will like or dislike. Also, the relative taste of the food in question has no bearing on the fact that you should eat more of it 😉

Perhaps now this client will quit the whole program, assuming it will demand that they force down detestable food that no normal person could. This is a wild example only of how a brief negative utterance could seriously impact the future of someone who really did want to make a change.

When you’re a beginner, you’re more sensitive to the world around you, the world you’re afraid you’re leaving behind, the world you’re still tied to in so many ways. You’re afraid of the future, and what it means, and you’ll jump at any excuse to bail on your “goal”. Look at all the New Year Resolutions falling by the wayside – gym attendance peaks in January and is back to normal by March.

I like the approach of Shawn Phillips in his excellent book Strength for Life: The Fitness Plan for the Rest of Your Life wherein he lays out one possible approach to the fitness journey for a total beginner.

When an activity ceases to be something you do and becomes a way of life, you begin to experience the pinnacle of freedom: Mastery … Your body is strong and vital not because you train; rather, you train to celebrate your strength and vitality. Training is a natural movement for you.

I made the commitment some time ago to be less negative, to attempt not inadvertently halting a person’s progress – whenever I could. It has changed the way I Facebook, Tweet and blog. I avoid sensitive topics when possible, to avoid being responsible for someone quitting over something that has nothing to do with their training.

Help me be positive, and help your brothers and sisters be positive, and commit to be positive yourself. Enjoy the ride to mastery and give a hand when you can. Thanks