So acting like someone else isn’t a great 10-year plan, but the magic in this practice is that in just a short time committed to acting like someone else (and acting means taking action), your belief about your own identity will actually change.
Have you ever heard of an alter ego? There’s a great book I listened to last year called just that – Alter Ego. The concept: You can act like someone you’re currently not so you become that person, or at least gain some of those desirable traits.
So if you can temporarily “put on” the “I’m an athlete who works out 3-4 times a week AND eats whole, mostly unprocessed foods” hat once a day to start, just at let’s say breakfast in place of your chocolate croissant and hot-chocolate-level-sugared-up coffee “drink”. That’s it. Maybe you even just decide that your alter ego fitbody has half the croissant and same coffee but adds in a boiled egg. Right on.
So why don’t people just jump on this bandwagon? Imposter syndrome, anybody?! (“I can’t suddenly be the girl who packs her breakfast – I’m known for coming in with Starbs and a croissant! What would people call me? Egg lady?!”) But really … who cares? Is there someone watching you, ready to make a report to Facebook — “OMG, I saw Karen eating ONLY HALF a croissant AND a hard boiled egg. Who does she even think she is?”
Nope. As I’ve often told my older kids over the years when self-consciousness struck, no one is really paying attention like you think they are. (Unless they were doing something dumb. Then everybody was watching, and they’re going to call and tell me about it. Parenting 101.) Most people’s fleeting thoughts about others are totally inward focused anyway (“She’s eating something different — maybe I should try that!”).
So you can wear the fitbod superhero cape for 20 minutes a day. And you can do it Clark Kent style under your normal work clothes, or you can tell a friend you’re trying something out. You choose. But really, that’s it to start.
Disappointing, right? You wanted me to tell you that the only way to change your life is to throw out every ingredient in your cabinet that isn’t grass-fed or organic? Not going to happen. Incremental change works; it’s just not as marketable as an overnight success.
After a week of doing this, take inventory: What did it feel like to know that this one, tiny change – even if you didn’t change anything else at all, makes a difference in, let’s say, a weight loss goal? Sure, maybe it’d take a year to lose 10-15#. I’ve worked with people who have lost 10-20# simply from making a small change to their daily beverage choices. It took accountability and a plan.
So what if, after a week, you can tolerate the extra hard boiled egg, and your body has finally started to forgive you for giving the other half of your chocolate croissant to your co-worker. (It’s a step-up from his usual 2 donuts and a Frappuccino, okay?)
If you’re ready, and that first tiny habit is SET, you can think about adding something that grows from … *gasp* the ground … to your lunch. So you buy a bag of mixed greens and, probably, since we live in Central Illinois, ranch dressing. Okay. But let’s be moderate. Measure out a tablespoon and call it.
You’re now a cape-wearing, boiled egg eating, croissant-sharing, salad devouring, food-prepping REAL LIFE on your way to becoming a fitbod-person. With an extra 30-second decision each week at the grocery store when you buy that bag of mixed greens. (Next, try mixing a packet of ranch dip with plain Greek yogurt in place of dressing. Protein + ranch = amazing. You’re welcome.)
So really, I know this was a long spiel to just highlight the fact that SIMPLE MATTERS. But let me say it again: SIMPLE MATTERS.
If you take an extra 5 minutes a week to meditate instead of scrolling social media, IT MATTERS. The only way it won’t matter is if you tell yourself it didn’t. If you’re like “Hey, cool. That wasn’t hard, and I noticed I’m sleeping a little more restfully” – congrats. You just excelled at not CAN’TING yourself out of being extraordinary. You did it. Now celebrate for a minute, and then do it again.
Just be aware, doing the damn thing with your body doesn’t necessarily mean that your mind immediately wants to go-along-to-get-along. Our minds and bodies work together in fascinating ways, and couple that magic with a sedentary culture spoon-feeding us comfort as a cure for hard times. Not exactly an atmosphere conducive to wellness.
Anticipate pushback from your own mind, and make a plan for how you’ll handle it. Check in with a coach, have a mantra (mine: I made the decision once, and I’m not going to negotiate with myself now.), and make the decision each day when you wake up to do the simple things, and the simple things become second nature.
Try a week of concentrated effort on the smallest change you can even fathom. Don’t even think about fixing your entire nutrition approach in a day. What’s the teensiest, tiniest thing? Drinking 36oz of sodie pop a day rather than a 6 pack? Cool. Do that. Do the boring thing.
You don’t have to accept the status quo of devaluing your body’s abilities just because years are passing. You don’t have to join the ranks of people becoming more sedentary and uncomfortable in their own skin every year. Fight against dullness of mind and body by sharpening your resolve for simple excellence.