Saturday, February 24, 2007

Be Bullet Proof

About a year ago or so, I went to Fort Lewis to run a small group of soldiers through a CrossFit workout. It was a sinister plan by my friend Chris Davis who I knew as a fellow grappler but who also happened to be enlisted. Chris is exactly the kind of guy you want protecting you which makes him exactly the kind of guy you don't want to risk losing. Anyway, he thought it would be lots of fun to see soldiers struggle to keep up with a girl. He thought it might be a mighty good lesson, too.

After the workout we were loading the kettlebells back into my car and he was telling me that a month after he returned from his tour in Iraq, he got a letter from the military telling him his Kevlar had been recalled. All along he'd been walking around as if he was bullet proof and he might have been a bit more cautious if he had known he was not.

Recently, I was wondering how we'd live differently from day to day if we thought we were something other than what we've always believed. It came to mind when I was talking to a client who was struggling to get to that coveted last few pounds of weight loss. Like so many people in that spot, she could maintain her weight but she couldn't seem to inch her way downwards.

I realized as I listened to her, that she was stuck in that trap that we all get stuck in sometimes. We justify our bad habits with the resignation that comes with the phrase, "I always do that." Whatever bad habits kept tripping her up where no big surprise, it was the obstacle she'd tripped over hundreds of times which you'd think she might have seen coming. She did. All my clients are clever and they don't need me to point out the obvious.

Simply seeing, however, isn't a plan and it isn't a belief that you truly have a handle on it either. In order to step over that obstacle you have to believe you're bulletproof. In her case, she wants to be 130 pounds and what I told her that day was to get out in the world that very minute and live as if she was already 130 pounds. What would someone at that weight live like? What would they do differently? How would they take care of themselves and what would they eat? How confident would they be and how proud would they be of their success? She certainly looked a lot thinner the moment she thought about it.

The fact is, part of losing that habit is losing the mindset that goes with it. If you keep expecting to be the person who does 'that thing' you will continue to meet your expectations. If you're waiting for the world to give you the sign that you've suddenly become something else it won't, but if you just alter you're understanding of who you are, you're habits will change to suit those expectations.

On Friday a former client beat me at a workout. Admittedly, it wasn't my best day but that doesn't really matter. What matters is that he's put in the work, he's lost 40 pounds, and he continues to improve. At the end of the last run, I was ahead of him and, as I began to falter, he yelled, "keep going, you don't want me to beat you!" I struggled and in the last 50 yards he passed me. No, I didn't let him, he was just faster than me that day.

What surprised me is that it surprised him. He still wasn't ready to let go of the guy that always gets beat by me. What would it mean if that were suddenly so? And how would life have looked for him if he had always known that one day he'd beat me?

I'll still want him to see that for himself even though I'll get him next time. Afterall, I still have to believe I'm bullet proof.