Congruence: A Personal Trainer's Essential Guide to Results
As a trainer I've heard it all before:
I'm going to get in shape.
I'm going to get my diet dialed in.
I'm going to track my diet honestly.
I'm going to cut back on drinking.
I'm going to sign up for that race.
I'm going to stop staying out late and start waking up early.
I'm going to lose 10 lbs.
I'm going to gain 10 lbs.
I'm going to see the world.
I'm going to stop drinking soda.
I'm going to stop working so much.
I'm going to spend more time with my family.
I'm going to hire a trainer.
What do all these things statements have in common? They mean you haven't done a damn thing.
Change is hard.
Well, real change for the better anyway. Over the course of the 10 years and hundreds of people I've provided professional fitness coaching to, I've learned a lot about what separates those who are successful from those who aren't. If you want my Top 10 Fitness tips, click here for my earlier blog entry about it. This post is about keeping you accountable. To figure out why you are NOT hitting those goals. It's usually because you aren't being congruent.
Congruence of thoughts, words and actions
Once you have followed all the tips in
my other blog post, you need to be honest with yourself about your congruency. Simply put, congruence means "in agreement or in harmony with one another." Are your thoughts and words lining up with your actions?
I often use the "bird on a wire" analogy with my clients at Bergeron Training to illustrate this point:
"Ten birds are sitting on a wire, five decide to fly away. How many are left on the wire? The answer is ten. Deciding to do something doesn't mean you did anything."
I have people all the time tell me they decided to get in shape. "Great!" I say. "What are you doing?" "Well, I'm going to start goi..." that's usually when I know they aren't congruent. They haven't done ANYTHING. It's something they tell themselves to make them feel better about the future. Now if the same person starts with "I've been going to the ..." I know they mean business. They've actualized what they say they are doing. What you do is infinitely more powerful that what you SAY you will do. Its real easy to say words. It's much harder to establish new behavioral patterns to create new habits and be accountable. But the biggest thing is to actually begin. To start.
What's your plan?
Most people need some encouragement or a strong support system. Others have never really been shown how to formulate a plan. That's why I pride myself on not only keeping my clients accountable, but on teaching them ways to hold themselves accountable. To step away from their own egos and defense mechanisms and be brutally honest about what are their priorities. If they ask me to come up with their goal, I tell them no. I will help them come up with a realistic goal for themselves, or help lead them to crafting an original one. Because at the end of the day, its not about what your trainer wants. Its about YOU. What do YOU want?
One trick I teach my clients is to have them write out their top 3 goals, put it on a post-it note on the bathroom mirror so they can see it as a reminder every morning and again before bed. Having it in front of you helps keep it on your mind. If you are staring at "I will lose 6 lbs before February 1st" then go eat ice cream three nights in a row, you are not being congruent. Having little reminders like that help keep you accountable. Unless losing those 10 lbs doesn't motivate you. Which brings me to my next point.
You don't REALLY want to change
The change I'm referring to here isn't physical transformation (I'm sure you REALLY do want to look better!), but more a change in your habits and lifestyle that would lead to that transformation. You knows you could use some improvement, but are you being truly honest with yourself about what that means?
Your priorities are not congruent with your actions. You say you want to lose 10 pounds but you are drinking beer 4 nights a week. You don't really want to lose those 10 pounds. If you have to choose (which, btw, everything you do is a choice) between losing 10 pounds or drinking beer 4 days a week, you chose the beer. Why? Ultimately, losing the 10 pounds is less of a priority. We are really good at lying to ourselves and saying you'll start next week or, after this one beer (which makes us still that bird on a wire). So next time you tell yourself you are just eating the french fries as a quick snack for lunch (albeit for the 4th day in a row), try saying "getting in shape is not a priority for me." Whether you like it or not, its the truth. And if you are okay with the priority being beer 4 nights a week, that's fine too! Just don't lie to yourself about your priorities.
So what now?
Being congruent is challenging, mainly because we have such a hard time being honest with ourselves and fail to have a plan of action. But it is possible! Here are some ways to do it.
1) Be honest with yourself about your priorities
If you don't really want to lose the weight, then don't! But if you do, realize it has to be a larger priority then eating junk food every day.
2) Have clear SMART goals
Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
3) Establish ways (apps, notes, a trainer, coach, etc) to keep yourself accountable
MyfitnessPal, a personal trainer, a workout buddy, notes on your mirror, etc. There are lots of ways to keep yourself accountable. I have many many more ways I share with my clients.
4) Surround yourself with people who share similar goals
Again referenced in another post, you are the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose wisely.
5) Reevaluate and see what corrections you need to make
If you aren't hitting your goals or your priorities aren't what they thought they were, what can you do about it?
Even though I am referencing fitness in this article, it really can be applied to any facet of your life. Finances, relationships, work, and life in general. People will trust you and like you if you are more congruent. Think about people in your life whose actions don't match up with their words. They tend to be thought of as unreliable or flaky. Do you want to be like that? Well now you have some steps you can take to be in harmony with your thoughts, words, and actions.
Ramsey Bergeron owns and operates Bergeron Personal Training in Scottsdale, AZ. He is an NASM CPT, 7 time Ironman, and former spokesperson for a national suppliment company. He has been seen in Men's Health Magazine among other periodicals and over 40 million newspapers across the country. He is also an expert contributor to various online fitness articles. He also founded Bergeron Adventure Travel which he uses to motivate clients to by preparing them for and leading them on hikes and trips around the world. Having led groups over the Inca Trail in Peru and the Milford Sound in New Zealand, he is currently planning a trip for his clients in 2018 to hike the Lysefjord in Norway.