Archive for April, 2011

Here at The Listening Center, we are big admirers of Rachel Cosgrove.  For those who have not yet heard of her, Rachel Cosgrove is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, co-owner of a successful gym in California called Results Fitness, columnist for Women’s Health magazine, and best-selling author of a fabulous book we highly recommend, The Female Body Breakthrough.  (If interested, you can learn more about Rachel by visiting her website

Recently, I caught a video of Rachel on You Tube taken during her visit at Todd Durkin’s gym, Fitness Quest 10, also in California.  The video focused on a talk she gave to some of the members at the gym, focusing on the themes and messages of her book, The Female Body Breakthrough.  At one point, Rachel described for the audience the 3 major components to achieving overall health and fitness.  (Bare in mind, these 3 components apply to men as well.)  She used the analogy of a stool, each component comprising one leg.  They were:  exercise, nutrition and mindset.  If one leg of the stool is weak or out of balance, then the whole fitness stool is off kilter, unstable, and out of balance.  What struck me the most about the talk Rachel Cosgrove gave that day at Fitness Quest 10 was what she said about the importance of one’s mindset:

“… {I} realized the women who really made that change long-term, and lost the weight, lost the clothing sizes, and were able to do it and keep it off long-term, and really change their bodies for their LIFE, were the ones who were able to change their mindset.”

Makes sense, right?  It’s something many of us have learned in some aspect of our lives – maybe not health and fitness, but we can all instinctively understand that lasting change only comes when our mindset has also changed.  Those of you who are Biggest Loser fans have seen this theme play itself out season after season.  Every single Biggest Loser contestant in every single season needed to, at some point, face and come to terms with whatever it was in their mindset that had caused them to become obese.  For some, it was a self-image issue.  For others, it was an emotional issue.  Still others were a combination of the two and even other issues I haven’t touched upon.  Universally, they ALL needed to change their mindset to achieve the lasting success they desired.

A person’s issues with food can often be tied to emotional issues.  Food is a substance that can be abused as a means of escape like any other.  Unlike any other, however, it is not a substance that can be abstained from, as one would abstain from drinking alcohol if one were an alcoholic.  Everyone needs to eat, after all.  This means that you have to completely change your relationship with food, as well as heal the emotional issues that caused your food addiction in the first place.  Sessions with a licensed counselor, ideally one who is holistic in his/her approach and who is open to working in conjunction with others who can also help you on your journey, such as a nutritionist and trainer, could be instrumental in changing your mindset for lasting success.  Some issues run too deep and too wide to grapple with and decipher all on our own.  Getting the help of a therapist during your journey will help create that lasting success you desire.

Another common mindset issue that needs to be changed in order to achieve the health and weight-loss you desire is negative self-image and self-talk, coupled with low self-esteem.  Far too many of us say very mean things to ourselves – and believe them!!  No wonder we feel awful, and hopeless, and discouraged when we constantly tell ourselves that we are fat, and ugly, and sloppy, and lazy, etc., etc.  All this negative self-talk only causes us to turn to food even more for comfort.  Make a promise to yourself right here and now that you will cease the negative self-talk and replace it with positive talk.  You will tell yourself that you are beautiful, and fit, and healthy, and productive.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t believe it at first.  In fact, you can count on not believing it at first.  After all, you’ve had years of conditioning yourself to believe just the opposite.  However, the more and more you replace the negative talk with positive, the better you will begin to feel and the more you will believe the positive vs. the negative.  Eventually, the negative voice will grow weaker and weaker until she/he ceases to exist.

To sum it all up, changing your mindset is the key to making any lasting change you seek in your life.  While this post has focused on it in terms of weight-loss and health, your mindset is the key to success in any endeavor you take on.  It should be your first priority.  If you find that you are unable to effectively change your mindset, do not be afraid to seek help.

If you were to Google “get comfortable with being uncomfortable”, you would be hit with page after page of people advising you to apply this concept to all areas of your life.  Some will focus more on how it can help you in business, others on its benefits in exercise and health, others for its effect on relationships and social life, and still others on how it benefits you, the individual.  But, while the focus may change, they will all say the same thing:  Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable is the key to success.

We are creatures of comfort, naturally.  Most of us resist change because we don’t like feeling uncomfortable.  But, change cannot occur in any aspect of our lives until we leave our comfort zone and switch up the status quo.  When you are uncomfortable, you are pushing your boundaries, trying new things, stretching yourself to do something you have not yet done.  This is the source of growth and change.  In your workouts, for instance, pushing yourself outside your comfort zone translates into achieving that next level of fitness, whatever it may be for you.  In your relationships, being vulnerable and uncomfortable is how you create true intimacy and form new bonds.  In your career and business, taking risks and working on things you haven’t “mastered” yet is how you will grow your business and advance your career.  Being uncomfortable leads to growth and change.  Ever went through a big growth spurt as a kid?  Remember how uncomfortable (and sometimes even painful) your body felt right before?  Discomfort before growth and change is a universal principle that can be applied across the board in all areas of life.

So, how does one get comfortable with being uncomfortable?  Isn’t that a contradiction in terms?  Here’s the thing.  While you will never be completely comfortable with the discomfort – how could you be? – you can become more and more accustomed to “dealing with” the feeling and, eventually, embracing it.  Our normal reaction to feelings of discomfort is to avoid what is making us uncomfortable, to push back and resist it, to procrastinate, or eat too much, sleep too much, drink too much, become moody, and many other unhelpful coping mechanisms.  Instead, try something different next time.  When you feel yourself tensing as a result of discomfort with whatever you are facing in that moment, pause and check in with your body.  Pay particular attention to your breath.  If you are tense, your breathing will most often be shallow and short.  Consciously take a few deep breaths in through your nose, sending the breath way down deep into your belly and lower back.  Visualize yourself harnessing all that nervous and uncomfortable energy with each deep breath.  Then, once you feel more centered and in control, use that newly harnessed energy to follow through and accomplish whatever it was that was taking you out of your comfort zone and into uncharted territory.  One day in the not-too-distant future, when the growth has occurred and you’ve expanded your life, you’ll be happy you did.

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