So far on our journey we have learned a lot about nutrition, fuel and some important information about exercise. Each article has taught you something that allowed you to create a small positive change. In the first article, we called them the “bricks” of change, and many small changes result in big change.
Now we are going to spend a few days on the mental aspects to improve your health and fitness.
Today’s little change, our new change “brick,” stems from a little snippet I saw a while back in the New York Post. It was a short article referring to a study of young girls who knew they were overweight and had tried dieting. Since they didn’t really know how to diet properly, the more they started and stopped doing it, the more weight they gained. The study concluded that dieting incorrectly is worse than not dieting at all. This makes perfect sense. And it is valid for both adults and children. One of the main reasons for this resides about twenty-four inches above our bulging belly buttons, in our brains. If we try something and fail, we often stop caring for a short period and do the opposite of what we originally intended. Psychologically speaking, we are thinking too much about the end results and not enough about the process involved in getting there.
In the early 1980s, one of the authors of this program did a lot of work with Penn State football players. One player stands out in my mind. He was a kicker, Herb Menhardt. Of the hundreds of NFL and college kickers over the past 35 years, Herb might have been the most talented kicker in sports history. Unfortunately, he was never able to showcase that incredible talent in the NFL due to a career-ending leg injury he suffered in rookie camp with the Miami Dolphins.
How does Herb relate to the success of the diet? He certainly wasn’t overweight. Simple. The author of it met Herb early in her junior year at Penn State. He participated in a performance enhancement program that was running at the time. Herb’s story was surprising because he was struggling mightily as a major college kicker. After seeing his talent during practice compared to his much poorer performance in the game live, I asked him to describe as specifically as possible the “self-talk” that goes through his brain before a kick in practice compared with that of a game. His dialogue before the kicks in practice was TOTALLY about the kicking process. He was thinking of his steps, his foot planted, driving his leg through the ball. All of his inner thoughts were directed at the kicking process. Before he starts the game, everything changed.
He was thinking about the game score and the impact his kick would have, missing the uprights, making the kick, what Coach Paterno would think, what his uncle would say after the game, his girlfriend’s adulation; in other words, all thoughts of result. The conclusion was simple once he clearly saw what he was doing. Process thoughts lead to success, while outcome thoughts lead to failure. Herb corrected this dialogue with a simple series of mental exercises, and from then on, Herb executed a series of incredible kicks, some of them stress-laden last-second bombs from 50 yards and beyond. In fact, in the college All Star game, he actually threw a ball twice, flat-footed, after the starter mishandled the snap.
The first important cognitive part of any change program is not to think about the success or failure of the small changes you are making to achieve your larger goal. Think about the changes themselves.
TODAY’S BRICK: THINK ABOUT PROCESS STEPS INSTEAD OF RESULTS
Let’s take Melissa, for example. Let’s say she had a bad day yesterday and ate a bag of Mint Milano cookies between lunch and dinner. Do you think it’s funny? We’ve all done it many times, but hopefully not twice this past week! Anyway, let’s say Melissa ate the cookies. If she had looked at the result, success or failure, and punished herself for failing, she probably would have been mad at herself, had a big dinner with dessert, a bag of chocolate covered peanuts, and a pint of ice cream. at night. . sick? No, it’s actually quite normal for many who overeat. If she had some cookies and didn’t get the change she wanted, the best way to handle it would have been to watch the process. Maybe she needs to make sure there are no cookies near her. Or maybe she needs to drink a lot of water to fill herself up during that troublesome period of time. Or maybe she just needs to start with a different little change and come back to the snack change later when she is further along in the program.
See what we mean? Try to succeed but when you don’t, as they say in Brooklyn, forget it. Dieting is not like landing a plane. There, if you lose track, well, that’s a far more costly blunder than what we’ll find in the diet. Lose track… be upset; eat a snack… forget it!
Seems like a lot of words to drive home today’s “brick,” right? Here’s the shorthand: think about the process you’re going through and not the outcome. Process thinking leads to success. Results thinking leads to failure.
Wow, how does this translate for you today? Well, continue to try not to snack between meals and drink plenty of water with my meals and between meals so you feel fuller and therefore less likely to snack. How’s that for using our bricks to connect? If I feel like eating something, think of water! You might end up having to imagine drowning those poor dancing Mint Kites with a fire hose, but either way, make sure you’re thinking about the process the entire time.