Confidence, comfort and capability are all within your reach
I was a fat guy.
I was a sick guy.
I was a sad guy.
Those three things, more than anything else, defined me. People who I worked with, bands I played with and people I knew casually might disagree, but I’m pretty sure that stems from politeness more than anything else.
I am a fit guy.
I am a healthy guy.
I am a happy guy.
As true as the first three things were 10 years ago, these are the true things about me today, and I have no doubt the people around me would agree.
So, how do you make this kind of a shift?
Ultimately, it’s this kind of shift many people (I hesitate a little bit, but I’m almost inclined to say most people) aspire to.
Amy Cuddy offered this solution (and honestly, take 20 minutes to watch and really focus on what she’s saying here):
When I was young I wanted to be on stage more than anything. I really did not care what context it was in. I took acting classes, performed in plays and learned to play both the guitar and the bass. One of the things I learned from acting classes is basically what Amy Cuddy is talking about in this video – your body governs your emotional and mental state, not the other way around. If you are doing a scene in a play where you need to authentically convey anger, and you need to access that feeling, hit something. The act of slamming your hand into something – punching a bag or smacking your palm on a table – causes adrenaline and other chemicals in your body to surge, and your emotions will follow that lead.
When I was trying to recover from depression and manage the horrible anxiety attacks that were an unwelcome feature of my life since high school I took the advice of a friend and began to learn mindfulness meditation and practice. Once again I learned that the body, the physiological response, sets the table for the mind. Mindfulness teaches you to learn to be aware of your breath, and by gaining this awareness you can learn to control it. By controlling the breath you can stop the tide of chemical reactions that lead to an anxiety attack. By controlling your body you can control your mind.
That’s a part of turning the sad guy into the happy guy. It’s also tied deeply in with turning the fat and sick guy into the fit and healthy guy.
If you’re a coach potato, becoming active, losing weight and improving your health prospects can seem utterly daunting. How do you start? How do you find the confidence that you can do any kind of exercise without failing?
Well, it’s really the same thing. You have to show up. You have to tell yourself, “I can do this.” And as Amy Cuddy says, small tweaks can lead to huge changes.
I started out by getting on my bike and riding regularly (which, by the way, was great for my emotional and mental health as well). Then I started doing push-ups every morning, which led to grabbing some dumbbells, heading to the garage and doing some basic lifts every morning.
I think the feeling that we need to do hours of work to improve is a false one. You can improve your confidence two minutes at a time. You can improve your fitness five or ten minutes at a time. What’s important is you tell yourself you can do it. You can and will improve.
Step back for a moment and visualize who you want to be. Then inhabit, live in that feeling of being that person. Try to spend a few minutes, at least, every day wearing that skin, that feeling. Do it long enough and consistently enough and you will become that vision of your possible self.