The START the ADVENTURE. . .for the Rest of Your Life Fitness Challenge I’m co-leading with Alyssa Kuhn, doctor of physical therapy, through the REVEL* platform has a simple premise. Eat well and exercise for four weeks in May. Participants set their own goals for working out and design their own eating plans. I’m a participant in my own Challenge. Two weeks in, PERFECT on the exercise. Failure on the eating plan. That’s leading me to write about mindset.
Examining our mindsets
Looking at the graphics above, what describes your mindset? Oh, sure, you say, “ I have a growth mindset.” I embrace challenges, I'm doing the Fitness Challenge, after all. But maybe, like me, you have areas where your mind seems fixed? How about yourself as a cook, a meal preparer. Fixed or growth? How about as a technology learner, a good sleeper, honest in relationships, a regular exerciser, someone who eats well. Fixed or growth?
Referring to the Fixed Mindset graphic, mine feels fixed around maintaining moderate eating habits when I’m excited, nervous, depressed (which I’ve been cycling through the last two weeks). I think, down deep, efforts to eat well are fruitless and I’ll just wait until I’m on a more even keel. But I know from experience this is not true. I have made changes to my eating habits. Now I need to remind myself how I change my mind.
Science tells us we can change what we think about ourselves!
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck's groundbreaking research shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about ouselves. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. We can increase our neural growth by the actions we take, such as using good strategies, asking questions, practicing, and following good habits. (Learn more about Dweck, her talk at Google and book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.)
We can redefine failure
Dweck found that exceptional people seem to have is a special talent for converting life’s setbacks into future successes. We've all heard stories like Edison's failing 1,000 times trying to invent the light bulb. But what sticks with me is the knowledge that we can actually rewire our brain to think differently. Here, Tech Tello, talks about failure. " Failures teach us what success can’t. Instead of running away from failures and giving up when faced with a setback, you can take advantage of your failures by reviewing them, identifying what did not work and then devising a plan to correct your mistakes. "
There's no failure in the Fitness Challenge
That's why we called the challenge START THE ADVENTURE...for the Rest of Your Life. There is NO FAILING in this challenge. The take away, I hope, is to get a start.
For me, I wanted to hunker down and lose weight by being really disciplined with a goal for that beach wedding, I wanted to track my food, and follow the #800gChallenge. I'm not going to criticize myself and start eating chocolate sundaes. I'm just going to remember my son's neon sign on his wall . . .
3 THINGS I'M GOING TO DO
TO ADJUST MY MINDSET
AND STRENGTHEN MY RESOLVE
Ok, it's going to takes some effort. But I'm gonna get my brain strong!
1. GET BACK TO MY MORNING ROUTINE
Getting up a bit earlier allows time for myself before the day starts for reflection. I'm recommitting to meditation and morning pages, my current journal practice. In The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, author Julia Cameron advocates writing several journal pages first thing in the morning to reveal and purge thoughts that get in the way of fulfilling our dreams. Also, meditating is essential for me to be connected to my inner life.
2. THINK ABOUT MY THINKING
Pahla B Fitness personality talks in her video, Having Trouble Losing Weight? about how she experienced difficulty meeting her weight loss goals until she examined her mindset, uncovering a belief that she didn't deserve to be happy, a very subtle but powerful force sabotaging her efforts.
Rachel Hart, host of the podcast, Take a Break from Drinking, is a guru when it comes to metacognition, or thinking about our thoughts. She teaches five parts to self-coaching towards behavior change: 1. Develop awareness of thoughts; 2. Accept negative thoughts rather than self-criticize for having them; 3. Name the thoughts and feelings that go with them 4. Examine the thoughts with curiosity and interest in learning more; and 5. work towards eventually interrupting unhelpful thoughts .
I am committing to developing awareness of the messages I'm giving myself.
3. CREATE AN INNER SUPPORT TEAM
Talking to ourselves in a positive way helps. Taylor Swift, in her documentary, Miss Americana, about changing her eating habits, is shown talking to herself in the form of we, "We don't do that any more." We all need a team of "we" to support us! Other ideas along these lines is to create a coach of our creation who advises you and cheers you on. Or conjure up an image of FUTURE YOU. You a year, five years, ten years from now, what advice would that wise you be giving? Not enough? Then create a whole imaginary Caring Committee. Put some wise people on it, a guru, a beloved relative, a special friend, a counselor then go to the Committee when decisions need to be made.
I'm going to create a team of WE and WE are going to begin again.
Success begets success
I know this. I feel it regularly from committing to exercise, then doing it. I feel success. It feels great. In this New York Times article, Dr. Yemiscigil, of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University, says “People often report more self-efficacy” after they take up exercise . . . which might prompt them to feel capable of setting new goals and developing a new or augmented purpose in life." The same holds true, for me, when I take up positive eating habits. Not only do I feel better from eating better but I feel better about myself.
What works for you?
Leave a comment below, I’m curious, what inspires you to come back from failure?
* Revel, recently named one of the top 10 Most Innovative Social MediaCompanies by Fast Company, is a social platform for women over 50 to connect with new friends online and in person.
You can still join the Challenge, the last two weeks, through Revel. Two more live Zoom classes, last two Mondays in .