Imagine you’re going to start learning a new skill, like playing the guitar.
Do you expect yourself to be perfect right away? Do you expect yourself never to mess up a chord? When you do, inevitably, mess up a chord do you see this as a reflection of your character or move past it as just keeping playing?
It sounds obvious in that example, but when a client “messes up” on their diet or misses a workout sometimes they really internalize it and take it as some sort of moral failing on their part. Getting a client to view their “missteps” more objectively and less personally is one of the most helpful things I can do for them as a coach.
But changing your mindset is hard. I find it can take lots and lots of analogies until it really sticks.
The most underrated fitness tip is to have reasonable expectations for yourself!
So here’s another analogy. Say you’re trying to stick to a budget with your expenses. The first month you have some successes (you didn’t buy any new clothes) and some failures (you spent more on eating out than you allotted and didn’t put any money into investments). What do you do? Do you give up on budgeting entirely, go spend your whole paycheck and say that it was useless? No, you probably feel a little disappointed (this is okay), but then go into strategy mode for the next month.
Strategy mode is so much more useful than self-pity or self-hatred mode. And it’s a lot better than giving up.
I wish I had the answer to why one client can go over on calories and be disappointed, but not devastated and another thinks they are the worst person ever for doing so. But I don’t.
All I can do is give you analogies and hope that one of them sticks. It might be scary to let go of your usual response to “messing up”. But I challenge you to see what happens if you stop making yourself feel so guilty. If you stop making yourself out to be the bad guy. Try blaming your environment for once! Or the food for being engineered to be too delicious! Try going into strategy mode.
And if you want a coach who can remind you that you’re not a bad person because you ate a “bad food”, I’d love to help you 🙂