Who Says You Can’t Change?

I could barely contain my excitement. Something triggered a dramatic shift in the way you look at exercise. “Nothing we can do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.”-Ashleigh Brilliant  My interpretation is that this was a defining moment for you!  As I recall, when you began training with me, this drastic change of perspective could never have been anticipated. Those early weeks were filled with hesitation, uncertainty, and skepticism. They were literally ground breaking and back breaking. This fitness portion of the journey was unlike anything you’d ever done before. There was no blood, but a lot of sweat and tears in my gym. Despite the doubters in the noisy crowd and your own insecurities, you persevered. It was an honor to serve you. I would have loved to have been privileged to hear your perfect response to your co-workers and friends. With mild curiosity and a hint of sarcasm, the daily exchange was always the same. “Oh, so you have to go workout now, huh?” Without wanting to project any hint of frustration, exasperation, or desperation, you calmly said “Yes” and nothing more. The change in your outlook did not occur overnight. “Conversion will not be a single event or something that will last for just one season of life, but will be a continuing process.”-Henry B. Eyring  However, on one glorious day, in the span of a few scant seconds, you were able to verbalize that transformation with beautiful spontaneity, “No, today I get to go exercise with my trainer!” That is an instant classic! “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”-George Bernard Shaw

It has been said by some that one of the greatest pleasures in life is accomplishing that which others say is impossible. Now that you’ve done the impossible, never forget how it came to pass. Remember the tremendous opposition you faced and the courage you demonstrated. Remember that “sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’.”-Thomas S. Monson. Your joy is as exquisite as had been your pain. Remember your original goals and set new ones. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. In a very real sense, you have been reborn. Now, go live that new life! “Your future is as bright as your faith.”-Thomas S. Monson  My friend, keep in mind that “things don’t change. You change your way of looking, that’s all.”-Carlos Castaneda  By changing your mind, you proved that you really can alter the course of your life. Sometimes it is all between the ears.

Don’t Feed the Animals

Did you know that the road to a healthier lifestyle is often paved with trash? This type of littering has always been a serious problem. Unfortunately, no citations will be written, and, therefore, no fines will serve as a deterrent to prevent this behavior in the future. One seeking to reform his ways must always see beyond the garbage that may be heaped on his path, and even literally upon him. It is easier said than done, though. This can be a grueling journey, particularly when the guilty party, the person whose rubbish is in his way and in his face, is someone he knows. During the reformative stages of one’s D.I.E.T. the all too familiar offerings of refuse can make you feel more than a little uncomfortable. There are reasons why the dealers of “junk food” seem compelled to make your quest more arduous. However, if you are on the receiving end of these persistent efforts to sabotage your good work, the focus today must be on you, and not the offender. Nevertheless, you will have to deal with the litterbugs sooner than later.

You body is your responsibility, and yours alone. Yours is the task of protecting it from harm as much as possible. Strengthen it. Strengthen your will to do what you alone are commissioned to do. Yours is the task of taking charge of how it is fueled, when it is fed, and why it is filled. Take ownership of your body’s basic nutritional needs. Anyone, who is not “all in” with your health and wellness program is going to prove to be an obstruction. Nothing short of complete cooperation forms an acceptable alliance in this journey. So, despite whatever shortcomings you may think exist in your communication skills, talk about it. Speak clearly and emphatically to those in your inner circle about your goals and your expectations. You set the standards for what is appropriate. You must dictate to everyone, not delegate to anyone, your specific requirements. Your desire is to become supremely disciplined and regimented with your daily consumption of food. You need not fear broadcasting your plan to avoid the toxic, recycled, processed garbage that abounds in the daily feeding rituals of far too many. A press conference isn’t necessary. A bold statement of your intentions will suffice. Hey, it is great if someone else wants to help you steer clear of this poisonous onslaught. It is extremely helpful. But, don’t count on it, at least for now. You may be disappointed. “Though we may not be our brother’s keeper, we are our brother’s brother. And because we have been given much, we too must give.”-Jeffrey R. Holland  We should care more and not cripple one’s dreams. We should know better than to impair another’s progress. We should seek deeper understanding in order to avoid damaging our brother’s and sister’s efforts to become their best self. Sadly, we do not step up, and man up, and perform our job of lifting up those around us who need some support as they travel through this wasteland of trash. We are obligated to do better and to be better. “When a man is trying to change for the better, the worst thing you can do is to keep reminding him of his past.”-unknown  By shoving “treats” in your face, or treating you to meal in unfriendly territory, you are being forced to constantly confront your past eating transgressions. I am not going to mix words here. If you don’t open your mouth to speak your peace, it will be opening to eat a piece of something you have sworn secretly to give up. The tempting offerings from others will not end. When you make a declaration of your beliefs, it doesn’t guarantee that others will change. Remember, it is you attempting to change! So, speak up and stand up for yourself. They will be accountable for their actions. You are accountable for your reactions.

So, until the time comes when someone else gets on board with you, this journey is yours to bear. Though the stench from the endless junkyards of popular, empty food choices may grow to be overwhelming, keep walking. It’s amazing what you can do when you have to do it! Put on a mask and blinders if you must. Better yet, put on the whole armor, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of your eating adversaries. Above all, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts from the wicked who seek to keep you unhappy, overweight, and unhealthy. You will find a strength beyond your own. Coupled with a knowledge of who you are capable of becoming, this new found power to resist temptation will lead you safely on your journey. It has to come from within you. You could try wearing a tee-shirt that reads “Don’t feed this animal. I can take care of that myself. Thank you, very much.”, but something tells me that won’t be enough. The current mindset of many is that nothing is broken, so therefore, there isn’t any need for a fix. Don’t worry. I like your mindset. It’s not about fixing something broken. Maybe, as you say, it’s about starting over and creating something better.

Paging “Doctor” Drumm

Are you singing the golf swing blues? I’ve heard that tune far too many times. Peculiar, isn’t it? I actually very much dislike that genre of music, yet I seem to spend a great deal of time around those who have become addicted to its depressing beat. It so happens that I thoroughly enjoy the journey of helping others. In this case, those chained to the frustrating melody of golf swing maladies can find a peaceful rhythm and a new song to sing while strolling the fairways. Under my direction, I have helped many orchestrate a complete change. Not surprisingly, when it comes to golf, most would give just about anything to hear a new type of music playing between their ears. That tempo would have them brimming with confidence. This transition, under appropriate tutelage, takes time.  As a man who wears many hats, however, I intend to take you in a different direction. I have conducted many fun-filled lessons over the years. I have met so many great people with an incredible desire to improve their play. My experience has taught me that most golfers learn backwards. They are inclined or encouraged to focus on the long game. I’m sure you can guess where this is headed. Put that driver back in the bag. Allow me a moment to don my new cap, and let’s go greenside!

Though there might not be a quick fix for what ails your full swing, and I’m not about to recommend using Band-Aids, there exists a panacea for your short game. So, if you are interested in receiving an inoculation against chunky chips, I can cure that problem. If you desperately need a remedy which will prevent those painful skulls and mis-hits, I’ve got a solution. Are you tired of exhausting strokes around the putting surface? Are you sick of leaving yourself lengthy putts hole after hole due to serious issues with your chipping skills? Do you often pull out your putter, because you are terrified of what might happen? A check-up with the short game doctor is guaranteed to save you from the terrible agony you’ve been experiencing. It’s time to make an appointment to get some much needed relief. I can guarantee that its positive effects will last well beyond your initial visit. Yes, I am saying that your disorder is very treatable.

Now, as your primary physician, I am going to prescribe the following steps which will aid in your recovery:

1. Narrow up your stance significantly.
2. Load up more weight on your front foot
3. Physically move yourself closer to the golf ball
4. Position your lead hand just off the inside of your lead thigh
5. Place the ball in the middle of the stance
6. Experiment with different golf clubs
7. Relax your body
8. Count 1,2,3 in your head and chip away
9. Eliminate your wrists for easy control

This might appear to be some lengthy and intense rehabilitation. However, don’t worry. The key is in your set-up position, and it really is as easy as 1,2,3!

Maintaining balance is not going to be a problem as you chip the golf ball, so get those feet close together. Stick the head of the club between your feet to get an idea of just how narrow you can go in the set-up. You cannot afford to have any body weight drift aimlessly away as you swing the club back. Thus, when you plant more of it on your front foot, leave it there! This set-up position can help promote a slight descending strike which is desirable.

Constancy is the key to consistency.

So, never change the position of your lead hand in relation to the body. Regardless of whether you are chipping, pitching or taking a mighty full swing, set your lead hand in the identical position. Don’t make things complicated. Don’t fiddle with the golf ball and move it all over the place. If you start changing its position, then you increase the likelihood that you will tinker with your hand position as well.

I repeat. Keep it simple in the set-up.

Let me remind you of your previous approach? Your hands were pressed well forward, the ball was way back in a much wider stance, and the club face was hooded or de-lofted because of the severe angle of the shaft. What a mess that created! Most of my patients used to be trapped in the “one club” for all chipping situations mentality. All chip shots are not created equally. The worst case scenario: using a high lofted wedge everywhere around the green regardless of the distance to the cup, the lay of the land between you and the hole, and the manner in which the ball is sitting. Because of the fact that your big muscles are not actively involved in the chipping motion, it can quickly become a tension filled adventure. You are not attempting to move the golf ball very far. This requires precision, not power.

So, to be as stress-free as possible, relax your body. To control the distance and direction, you have moved closer to the ball and are almost making a putting stroke. You cannot possibly expect to become a good chipper if you are, in relation to the ball, standing just as you would for a full swing. If you use too much wrist action, you can’t reasonably hope to accurately gauge how hard to hit your chips. Conversely, if your arms and shoulders do the work, your expectations will change dramatically. You can and will begin to feel confident that you will hole-out shots from off the green. Yes, it is as easy as 1,2,3! You may take an extra practice swing or two when chipping. Unlike in preparation for a full shot, the additional rehearsing will aid your effort to develop the proper feel for how to play a particular chip shot with the specific club you’ve selected. When you “feel it”, step right up to it, count to three in your head, and show off that magical touch. If you follow my prescription, your fear of chipping will disappear. The days of mis-hitting these shots will be a distant memory.

Can you imagine the improvement you’ll see in your putting statistics? Those scary long putts are now stress-free tap-ins. Just as the doctor ordered! What a great feeling! Now that is something to sing about!

photo credit: Technology for medical use via photopin (license)

Too Soon to Tell?

“I know that this is going to sound silly. But, I feel different already.” One of my students made this comment to me upon showing up for only his second training session. Two days had passed since his initial visit and the commencement of our workouts together. He concluded his greeting to me by adding:”I think that it’s mostly psychological so it doesn’t really matter.” Could he possibly feel any physical change or is it all between the ears? Both his thoughts and feelings are equally important elements which will play a significant role in his near future. But, what he actually does in response to these impressions and sensations is of greater significance.

As our second workout was underway, this student had a revelation. I asked him how his day had been going. He told me of some healthy food choices that he had been making over the course of the past two days. This determined man spoke of several conversations he’d already had with co-workers. To them, he expressed his need to make some lifestyle changes. That is awesome. What is even more impressive is that some of these people actually acknowledged their own desire to do likewise. When we are courageous, we become leaders. Some may choose to follow our example. Well, furthermore he mentioned to me that he had chosen to go to bed early the previous night. He said, almost incredulous at the sound of the words, that he changed up a typical after work habit. This routinely involved kicking back and consuming a large amount of alcohol. It doesn’t stop there. With the weather cooperating, he told me that he was able to take a nice bike ride. Yet after sharing this information with me, this wonderful man asked me, yet again if it were even conceivable that he might actually feel something happening to him right out of the proverbial starting gate. I had him rehearse the events of the past 48 hours with me once again. He thought that it was somewhat peculiar, but did so nonetheless. Then it hit him, the revelation, that is. “No wonder why I am truly feeling “different”! He was already choosing to act on his great desire to change his body, mind, even his very life. “So, you mean these little things I’ve done are all-together difference makers?” Recall, that it has never been just about the exercise. Standing alone, it is never sufficient to meet your needs. Surely, though, you can feel a physical high, a fitness fix, great pleasure, and satisfaction by engaging in and completing a singular workout. My new friend confessed that he’d taken more positive steps in two days than he had in the past twelve years. It is not too soon to declare that this guy is on a roll! There was no psychological deception at play here. He feels good precisely because that is an immediate by-product of doing good.

Yes, as incredible as it may seem, you can and will feel better after a single attempt to move your body! Even if you do nothing else to supplement this early effort. Clearly then, anything that you do beyond the realm of exercise can only add to your positive experience. The human body is amazing, and so are you! Once you start treating it with T.LC., it responds with a choir of joyful “thank you’s”. Like my new student, you can begin to take back control in your life. You can overcome the physical and mental obstacles which have held you back from attaining and/or maintaining personal goals. You might surprise yourself as well. If you have been a frequent rider on the roller coaster of weight loss, then certainly you have experienced some periods of success. So, although having a well thought out plan is always the smartest approach, this fresh start might bring about a set of responses similar to my enthusiastic student.  Almost instinctively, you may implement little changes by drawing from the positive lessons learned from that mixed bag of ups and downs.  Those previous attempts to reach a health and wellness goal were not pursued in vain. You might have to dig deep inside of yourself to muster the courage to involve others, but I believe that you have never been better prepared than now.

You, too, can feel the good vibrations flooding your entire being. I warn you that you will be highly contagious. This early momentum is like a wave which will carry you and others to happier and healthier shores. It is an exciting time. So, please don’t delay the chance to feel “different”. It is never too late for you to begin again, and it is not too soon to tell if something is changing. Remember that the events of tomorrow are built with a foundation made up of choices today.“Decisions determine destiny.”-Thomas S. Monson.  Though you cannot merely wish yourself a new body or improved circumstances in life, you can will yourself to do what must be done. What will you decide to do today to shape your future?

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

When does it happen to you? Maybe, it occurs when you first roll out of bed in the morning despite a rough night? Perhaps, it takes place the moment you get home from yet another long, stressful day on the job. Well, no matter when it happens, or for that matter how frequently it’s been reoccurring of late, isn’t it obvious that it is damaging to your health. You may feel helpless, because it’s unavoidable… these close encounters you have with mirrors. Apparently, you have somewhat of a strained relationship with them. Oh, they come in all shapes and sizes, but despite these physical differences their messages to you are pretty consistent. What do you hear? “I don’t like you!” screams the bully in the bathroom. “I don’t even know you!” yells another in disgust down the hallway. “When are you going to do something?” the bedroom mirror rather sarcastically inquires. I don’t think that purchasing new mirrors is the solution to all of this unfriendly chatter. Breaking them all won’t solve anything either, and besides that could add up to quite a few years of bad luck. This dysfunctional relationship cannot continue.  You must learn to coexist.

What do you really see when you gaze into the mirror? Do you long to be staring at the man or woman who peered back at you twenty, ten, or even just a few years ago? Despite being depressed and discouraged by your current physical state, when you look deeply into the glass, do you still see the person you once were? Living with the weight of  disappointments and setbacks in your past, can you, even now, see the man or woman you always wanted to become? Do you, as Disney’s Mulan did, ask yourself, “Who is that man I see staring straight back at me? When will my reflection show who I am inside?”

You may not like what you see today. However, if that perception is to be altered, you must start this very moment to do the following. It is imperative that you learn to demonstrate unconditional love towards that beautiful human being in the mirror. You were created in the very image and likeness of God. You have divine qualities and infinite potential. Never forget those eternal truths. Sure, forgiving yourself has been a major stumbling block. But, for you to progress, forgiveness is the essential first step. It is possible to love yourself and not be satisfied with your entire being. Every day, tell yourself that you are a work in progress. Be kind to yourself. Life itself is not easy, so you need to be easier on yourself. Remember, you are not the only non-perfect person on the planet. If you are to change your conversations with those mirrors of negativity, you will want to start doing positive things in your life. Take a walk. Make a healthier food choice. Find a source for encouragement. Talk to a health coach or a personal trainer for some ideas. Read a blog! Figure out a plan for the rest of today. There is much good you can do for yourself if you but take action.

“I’m going to make a change for once in my life. It’s going to feel real good. Gonna make a difference. Gonna make it right. I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make that change.”--Michael Jackson

Smile at that nasty mirror and you’ll soon be surprised at how quickly it will smile back at you! Hey, you may soon be saying, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I now know who is the most beautiful of all.”

photo credit: Spiegel Spiele via photopin (license)