You may be a grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, wife, husband, friend, mentor, confidant…or any combination of these (and many other things) that may define us as people. But a number is not one of them.
This struck a bit of a chord today when having a discussion with a client about how far she was running. She was a bit out of her normal routine, especially as it pertains to her training for running. She went downstairs to do her normal “3 miles” on the treadmill, and for 2 days in a row, it just didn’t feel good - so she walked instead.
Unfortunately, she took none of the satisfaction away from the fact that even though she didn’t run, she still did something! For some reason that 3-mile run was firmly entrenched in her brain as the baseline for satisfaction on the treadmill, anything else was failure.
I have a sneaking suspicion that it is for that same reason that many people have a certain weight that they “need” to be at, in spite of the fact that the last time they were at that number was 12 years ago, the morning of their wedding.
Now, I do not think numbers are evil. As a matter of fact, I think they can be a great tool and are mandatory to some extent in terms of measuring and monitoring progress. At some point a numerical value will need to be used to determine whether or not you have improved.
But it’s unfortunate when someone can walk into the gym feeling great, a smile on their face, some bounce in their step, and suddenly, after the sinister little machine on the floor tells them something different, their mindset and day do a complete U-turn!
Even though no one but them will see that number, it is almost like it’s plastered on their forehead, and we have seen it ruin days. No matter how magnificent they look, how many compliments they receive, if that little voice inside of them doesn’t accept that the number is only a measurement of the state of your physical body at that instant, it may not matter.
Consider this for us. Whether it is a weight on the scale or a mileage on the treadmill. What if the number didn’t matter?
Rather than associating 3 miles with success because some of your best runs were at that distance. Rather than feel like you should weigh (insert weight here) because you happened to step on the scale on the day of your wedding, a day when you felt like the most beautiful woman in the world.
What if you gauged your success based off of how you feel on a daily basis? What if you got on the treadmill and just ran for as long as it felt good? What if, before you got on the scale, you put down in writing how your day was going and how you were feeling?
If you got on the treadmill, planning 3 miles based on your program, but it felt amazing, so you actually ran 5, would it be ok? On the flip side, could you allow yourself to stop early if you got on for your 3 miles and nothing felt right? Could you feel a sense of accomplishment by walking (because it felt good) instead of running?
Perhaps (actually we know!) practicing this will help you start using your miles, scale weight, or other numbers, to track where you are at relative to your goals and to monitor your improvement, instead of a black or white gauge of whether you succeeded or failed. Or whether it is a good day or a bad day.
Start focusing on how you are feeling and use that as your measure for success. The successful person is the one who is starting and finishing their runs with a smile on their face. The person who can step on the scale and associate that specific moment in times reading in a positive manner in relation to their goals.
Remember, you are a grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, daughter, son, sister, brother, wife, husband, friend – NOT A NUMBER!