In the book Mindfulness, Ellen Langer discusses the concept of of being process oriented. What does this mean?
A process orientation…asks “How do I do it?” instead of “Can I do it?” and thus directs attention toward defining the steps that are necessary on the way.
How does this apply to fitness? If you’re reading this blog, then you are more than likely interested in fitness. Maybe that interest is because you want to be healthier, you’re trying to lose weight, you have a fitness goal you’re striving toward, you want to get off of blood pressure medicine, or some other reason. You might be at what is called a “contemplation stage” of your fitness journey. You’re thinking about losing weight. Perhaps you’ve just joined a gym, even scheduled a session with a personal trainer. These are all fantastic first steps.
But, there may be a lingering thought of “Can I do it?” – Can I lose the weight? Can I run that marathon? Can I get back down to a size 8? Why does this doubt linger? In many cases it may be because you’ve tried to reach this fitness goal in the past, but for whatever reason you fell short. You didn’t lose the weight you wanted, you got busy and stopped going to the gym, you slept in instead of meeting your trainer.
If that has been the case in the past, then it might be time to re-examine your process, or your “How do I do it?” Think about the obstacle you had in the past that you really couldn’t overcome to continue on your fitness journey? Define those obstacles. Write them down. Now, how do you overcome those obstacles? Write down everything that comes to mind as a method for overcoming that obstacle. Even if it sounds stupid, write it down. What you’re looking for is a new solution to your problem rather than getting hung up on the solution that didn’t work in the past.
As an example, let’s say you joined a gym in the past, but after about a month you stopped going because you just got a new project at work that required you to stay late. How would you overcome that obstacle? What new solution could you devise? Go to the gym in the morning, go to the gym at lunch, start exercising at your desk, don’t take a shower in the morning until you break a sweat, go to the gym first in the evening and take the work home.
The process-oriented person is less likely to be caught off-guard if circumstances change.
What are some of the processes that you can put into place to help you in your fitness goals no matter what change in circumstance comes your way? Here are some that have helped me:
- Never miss a Monday – Get in a good workout at the beginning of the week and you’ll set a tone for the rest of the week
- Be active everyday for 30 minutes – Even if this only means taking a walk, it makes sure that you move.
- Join the gym closest to your house – Less excuses not to go. My gym is 0.9 miles from my house. I can (and do) walk there.
- Don’t bring cookies in the house – For me, cookies are a weakness. If I buy a bag of cookies at the grocery store, they’ll be gone in 3 days. The process that prevents this is to not buy the cookies.
Now, what about the other side of this – the outcome. Lets say you do all these things, but the weight isn’t coming off the way you want it to. Not as fast as you would like. You’re not seeing the results immediately. Remember – Process over Outcome. If your process, your “how” to achieve your goal, is sounds then the results will come. Look at the other things you may have achieved. Maybe the pounds didn’t come off as quick as you would have liked, but how do you feel? Do your clothes fit better? Are you sleeping better? Are people noticing a change in you? It may well be that you’re getting results, just perhaps not the one you expected.
To be successful in your fitness journey, set a process for yourself that will lead you to a positive outcome.