Through The Looking Glass

In April 2013 I addressed the downfall of having unrealistic or rigid expectations on the people in your life (Great Expectations). What appears to need a little more driving home today is that many of you set unrealistic expectations upon yourself, causing serious detriment to your fitness goals.

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While most people seeking to make a change to their body due to health or appearance issues lean towards a half-hearted approach to their goals, a significant demographic errs with an expectation-driven approach that only truly tenacious athletes can “win” with. In simple terms, you set your mind on an expectation (goal) that your body can be changed in a specific amount of time and into a specific shape that is usually unrealistic and therefore unachievably.

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Now some of you might be saying without these self-imposed “rigid” expectations, I won’t push myself or hold myself accountable. While that might be true to some extent, more often then not there are more cons than pros to this approach. Having too high expectations on yourself results in problems ranging from weight/fat increase instead of loss, to injuries, and most notably emotional stress, exhaustion, and depression.

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As an example, I once had a client who was scheduled to be married one month from when I met her. She was obese and had no muscle tone to speak of. She wanted lean toned arms, and to lose 3-4 inches from her mid-section. She said “I will do whatever it takes, I’ve made a commitment to myself to achieve these goals.” The problem was clear, her goals were impossible to achieve in the time allotted. I told her so. I told her that we could make headway, but that 30-days was not enough time to achieve her specific goals.

While we started out strong as the half-way point loomed large she fell into a funk, started cancelling sessions, and even considered cancelling her wedding, all because her goals could not be achieved. She finally came to talk with me, tearfully sharing that she felt she’d disappointed everyone and let herself down.

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I know this is a very extreme example, but I really want you to look at what expectations you place upon yourself, even in a subtle everyday manner, that can cause you to feel self-doubt or disappointment all because of an imposed “need” to make something happen.

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But good news, there is a simple solution – I call it The Looking Glass perspective. When you create an expectation upon yourself, imagine placing that expectation upon someone else – someone that matters to you, like a daughter, son, sibling, or parent. Whether the goal is to get a better job, find a mate, or just be in a different shape for summer or an event, it’s always easier to ascertain if your desires are too much by imagining someone else trying to achieve them. See those goals through the eyes of someone else and you’ll very quickly know if the expectations are too high.  Then all you have to do is think about what you’d advise them to do. How you would modify those goals to fit into the realistic shape of their (and your) life.

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Give it a try, you’ve nothing to lose but stress and disappointment. As for keeping a fire lit under your butt, that’s what I’m here for. Anytime you need a little kick to stay on track, drop me a line.

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