You know the one.

That feeling when you have bitten off more than you can chew?

When it seems that you will never reach your goal?

That the mountain is too high to climb?

I am fairly confident that everyone reading this will have experienced this at some point in their lives.  Perhaps just in so much as having a gigantic “to do” list.  Or perhaps in a much deeper way, where you feel like you’re never going to find happiness.

I was prompted to write this after a discussion with one of my clients a couple of weeks ago, and I think that the “sinking feeling” can be applied to many people seeking to improve their health and wellbeing.

The client in question said something that I have heard a lot.  It’s a conversation that I have had with numerous clients both face to face and via distance coaching.  But I felt compelled to share on this occasion, because I could completely empathise with her words, albeit under different circumstances.

“No matter how hard I work at this, I’ll never reach my goal”

My words, not hers, but it’s essentially paraphrasing the discussion I have had with so many people.  If you have a lot of weight to lose, it’s easy to feel like you have an impossible task ahead.  Even if you manage to shift 12kg (2 stone) – which is no mean feat – you might be faced with the knowledge that really another couple of stone needs to go.

If we always look at things in these terms, we’ll never ever get started.

If you’re going to have to study for seven long years to qualify in your chosen field and there’s no guarantee of a job at the end, then why put yourself through years of exams?

Why go through the pain, deprivation and hard work of losing a whole bunch of weight, if two stone down the road you’re still going to feel dissatisfied.  Easier not to start at all, right?

When it comes to losing weight, the important thing is to not focus on weight.  You’ve all heard me say this before and anyone who has read my emails for a while will know that I am not a fan of the scales.  Simply because they only measure one thing:  Weight.  And weight on its own is not a marker of health.

We all know it is entirely possible to be on the larger side and still be strong, injury free, and  free from disease.  On the flip side, you can be slender, yet suffer from illness, poor fitness and have terrible cellulite!  (Ever heard of the term “skinny fat”)?!

So my point is this:  If you ever get that sinking feeling when it seems like you’ll never get there (wherever “there” is), remember that every step in the right direction is a positive one.  A good friend of mine recently used the analogy of the tortoise and the hare.  If you take small steps you will eventually get there.  Trying to run before you can walk often ends in failure.

In my own personal example, I am currently training for a big kettlebell strength event in May.  I signed up last August (!) and the plan was to start swinging those bells a bit more regularly before going to Australia, and then come back and have five full months of hard training from December.  Of course I came back from a month off, having done zero training in that time, head first into what I knew was going to be a very busy December, and somehow just couldn’t find the time.  Not even for a 10 minute burst.  In the back of my mind I had this niggling voice saying “don’t put it off any longer”.  I kept looking at the training programme and getting THAT sinking feeling. The longer I left it, the more daunting the task was going to be.

In the new year I thought things would be different, that I’d be leaping into action with only four months to somehow get super strong.  It actually took until around 20th January for me to finally get my butt in gear.  For the past four weeks I have been following my training plan to the letter.  Yes it is hard work, yes it means not doing other things in order to find the time required, but I am definitely getting stronger.  Whether I’ll be strong enough for May remains to be seen.  But one thing is for sure:

I’ll be a darn site stronger than if I hadn’t done any training!

So what did I do differently?  What made me ignore that sinking feeling and finally take action?

Perhaps it was fear?  Blind panic?  Or just plain sense?

Truth is I don’t even really know.  The only difference was that I wrote down all my training sessions on a calendar.  I scheduled the time, which workout to do, what weights.  Since I did that, I seem to be able to crack on.

I’d recommend the same for all of you.  When it comes to your health, planning and diarising (is that even are word?) are key.  If you just leave everything to chance, you’ll slip up.  So be prepared!  Schedule your exercise, plan your meals, write a shopping list.  Remember you don’t have to change everything at once – be the tortoise not the hare!

If you go at it hell for leather, deciding to go running every day, increasing your miles each time, and at the same time decide to try cutting out carbs in a bid to lose weight…  You’ll end up exhausted, injured and miserable.  If you look at planning a few sessions a week, starting small and gradually building up, eating by listening to your body as mother nature intended, you’re far more likely to stick things out in the long run and see those changes.

Sure you might not lose heaps of weight quickly, but that’s kinda overrated unless it stays off and you are genuinely happier at the end.  Coming back to my first point, rather than just using that number on the scales to determine your success, look to other markers:

How are your energy levels?

What about your skin?  Your hair?

Do you feel stronger?

Does your body perform as you want it to?

Are you still getting aches and pains?

How do your clothes feel?

I have had to make do with simply knowing that I am getting stronger.  It was tempting a few weeks ago to just start training with the weights I need for my event in May.  I quickly realised, however, that it would only lead to injury and probably disappointment.  So while I still feel like I have a mountain to climb, at least I am going in the right direction and, more importantly, I am enjoying the journey.  (I confess to rather enjoying climbing mountains – the literal ones anyway)!

 

Me atop Striding Edge in the Lake District

Me atop Striding Edge in the Lake District

That turned into a bit of a long post (largely because I lost the original and had to re-write it), but I hope it’s something that many of you can relate to and that it helps you to realise you don’t have to get to your end goal overnight.

Take your time, do change things, but enjoy the journey.