A few weeks ago while I was working with one of my clients, I asked him how many times he was able to get in some exercise on his stability bike within the past week. Like so many of my clients, he sheepishly answered “Not that many. I know I should be doing more”.
His answer is pretty much the same answer I get from most of my clients regarding their solo exercise time. “I know I SHOULD be walking more, running more, swimming more, drinking more water, getting more sleep ect, ect, ect”. If I lived in a perfect world, the word “should” would be stricken from my clients’ vocabulary.
“Should” is a self-defeating word and has no place when speaking of one’s own health and fitness goals (or life goals for that matter). It’s a word full of regret and keeps us stuck in the past.
For years after suffering from my eating disorder, I thought of how I should be further along in life. I should be married, I should have a child, I shouldn’t be depending on my parents to help pay for doctor bills, and I should have a more sophisticated job. I was “should-ing” all over myself and nothing was ever enough. No amount of gratitude journals, daily affirmations or accomplishments made a dent in this regret because I of the over riding belief that I “should” not be where I am.
I “should” be somewhere else, further along and a better version of who I am.
When we “should” ourselves about our exercise and health habits we become disempowered; “Shoulding” yourself to stick to your well-intended health and fitness goals never work because a “should’s” focus is on shortcomings and makes us believe that we are not enough.
“If you become what you think about, and what you think about is getting what you want, then you’ll stay in a state of wanting” – Wayne Dyer
If “should-ing” creates the self-perception of not being enough, then believing and saying “I am enough just as I am” is the first step. Sounds easy enough, but it is actually harder than you think. Each time a “should” thought creeps into your head, respond back with “I am enough”. Thought precedes action and thought is the birth of every action, so in order to act worthy and in order to feel worthy, you must first believe it.
The second step is to act as if you're already the healthy person you want to be; basically going in reverse from how we normally opperate regarding goals. So many times when we decide we are going to become a healthier version of ourselves we make a list of goals we want to achieve or we make a list of actions we need to take in order to become that person.
Drink more water
Stretch every AM
Walk Every PM
Take the stairs
This list can become exhausting and overwhelming. So instead of making a list, I encourage you try a little exercise I used to do when I was in theater; character research.
If you were already the healthy person you are trying to be, how would you act and what would you do?
Don’t make a list, just keep this thought in the back of your head at all times. If I was already the healthiest version of myself, would I still be up at 2AM looking at Facebook? If I was already the healthiest version of myself would I push through my knee pain and ignore it, or would I take some time off from running and get it checked out? Most of the time, we already know what we need to do to become the person we are striving to be so I challenge you to start acting as if you were already that person. If this action illicits an instant feeling of fear or resistance then that means you are on the right track.
I leave you with a reminder that in a few short weeks, half of 2015 will be behind us. It is never too late to become the person you have always wanted to be. Start the second half of the year without your "should's" becuase they stink.