How to get off the couch
Whenever you put your ideas out there into the universe, it's always scary and, from my perspective, takes courage.
Yet whether you're a painter or a director or a choreographer or a writer, regardless of your intention, once you make your stuff public, it's like a free-for-all. It's 100 percent up to your audience to make sense of your message, interpret or reinterpret your ideas, and like or dislike your work or even you.
So when I published Getting My Bounce Back, I braced myself for what I might see on social media or in reviews. I've heard enough authors and public figures talk about how petty and hateful some people can be on social channels, and in general I have a thick skin. But especially because my book is my personal journey, I wanted to prepare myself for whatever might come my way.
While I've had an overwhelmingly positive response, I did get this 2-star review on Amazon from a person who admitted she did not read the book. (I'm assuming it's a woman. Don't ask me why. Just a feeling.)
Here's what she wrote:
121 pounds? Try at least doubling that, then tell me your solution. I understand she's 4 ft 10 inches, but still get the issue. I should have paid attention to the title "Getting my Bounce BACK". That presumes she had a bounce to begin with, knew was [sic] bounce was. I didn't make it far enough into the book to find out how she even "started a yoga practice". How does one even get motivation to do even that? Some of us are stuck on the couch or working long hours at a desk.
I know I need to read further to find out her answers, but I don't have motivation to wade through all of her exercise routines and trainers to get to that point.
Aargh!!! Right? Not exactly a review. More like road-rage.
A lot to unpack here so I'll just stay right on the surface. We've all been there when you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.
How quickly we beat ourselves up for not having the motivation to accomplish our goals. For not even knowing what our goals are. And then lashing out at others, turning ourselves into victims.
So before I go any further, I'll just say at the outset, can we please try to be nice to ourselves? Give yourselves a break, people.
But this, too.
Don't take your anger out on your job or your genes or your situation or me or anyone else because you find it hard to get up and go. I'm sure I did this for years before something clicked in my brain.
It is hard. I know that. And in fact, that is the point of my book. And it doesn't matter whether you need to lose 200 pounds or 20 pounds or 10 pounds - what's important is how you feel in your body and what kind of person you want to be.
We do this to ourselves all the time. Even when we've turned a corner and we've got a meaningful exercise habit and we genuinely look forward to exercising, it takes conscious willpower to keep from beating ourselves up over missing a workout or sleeping in or vegging on the couch.
But here's something else. If you've ever been a member of Weight Watchers and attended one of the weekly meetings, you know the importance of accepting what's in your food diary and facing what appears on the scale and moving forward. You're literally surrounded by people who admit they fell off the wagon while they were on vacation or celebrating a graduation or over indulging at a work event.
"It's ok," the leader will say as she shares a new recipe or strategy for sticking to your plan, the one written in your little points book. (My favorite years ago was from a leader who said, simply, "when I'm out of points, I go into my bedroom, close my door, and go to sleep.") Ask my kids - they'll tell you I've done just that on more than a few occasions. At 5 pm.
But I also noticed when I attended Weight Watchers meetings in San Mateo when I was living in the Bay Area that the same people were falling off the wagon week after week. They were constantly seeking support for not sticking to their plan. And while they were asking for compassion from the members around them, they were beating themselves up. What I know now is that, like me at times over the years, they lacked confidence but most importantly self compassion.
Yet having self compassion isn't just about giving yourself a break and being kind and gentle to yourself, which of course is part of it. It's also about giving yourself permission to, in the words of Nike, "just do it." Even if you don't know how, or if you don't always succeed, or if you're not particularly good at it. In my podcast conversation with Dr. Chris Friesen on how to learn to crave what is good for you, about re-framing the narrative in your head about what you want versus what you should do, Chris talked about the idea of "doing." He said the one character trait that all successful people have - including professional athletes as well as entrepreneurs and other high performance individuals - is that they do.
"Confidence comes from doing," Chris told me. In fact he said if I'd waited for the best idea or the best moment or the perfect sentence to pop into my head or even a guarantee that I'd sell a bunch of books, then I never would have written my book. Or in the Weight Watchers scenario, if I'd waited for the perfect day and the perfect amount of time and the optimal schedule, I'd never lose a pound.
While I suspect the person who lashed out at me on Amazon might need more than exercise to get herself to feel good, what I want her to discover is the compassion to forgive herself for not knowing all the answers. Few of us do. I certainly don't.
And to love herself enough to invest in herself 1. In time by scheduling exercise into her workday, even if it’s a 1-mile, 20-minute walk or during a coffee break, 2. In money by buying workout clothes that make her feel good and maybe even a gym membership or better yet a trainer and buying expensive fresh fruits and vegetables instead of eating cheap fast food, and 3. In finding a community of people who exercise by joining a walking or running group or signing up for a short race or even volunteering.
Then maybe she'll be able to learn from others about good nutrition, time management, how to exercise, motivation. That's the irony of self-help. You've got to know when you need to reach out to others in order to help yourself. Sure my so-called reviewer took the initiative to buy my book, but lacking any compassion in herself and any confidence in her ability to do, she gave up.
Early on in my training, Reu, my first trainer, told me many of his clients relied on him to motivate them, to inspire them. "Think 'drill sergeant,'" he said. In the beginning, I told Reu I didn't agree with that. I told him what motivates me is me, moi. But later, as I began to grasp what it means to progress my level of fitness to the point where I genuinely feel good, I was won over. This stuff is complicated. And hard.
But first I needed to get some compassion for myself and discover my why. Only then was I able to open myself to being inspired and motivated by others. To trust and be led by others. So I could have the confidence to push myself. No excuses. Get myself out there.
To just do.
See you next time.
P.S. If you like the book, put a review on Amazon or Goodreads or ReadItForward or anyplace else where you go to look for inspiration. It's a journey, and we're in this together. We got this. :)