Most people have heard the business analogy about pigs and chickens. (When making a plate of bacon and eggs, the chicken is involved but the pig is fully committed.)
Degree of commitment is often a predictor of outcome — you can’t ‘kind of’ jump out of a plane or scale a mountain. You’re either two-feet-in, like the pig, or squatting on the sideline.
Losing weight and becoming fit are no different. Once you start adding escape clauses to your commitment contract, the odds of success plummets. ‘I’m going to eat healthy and exercise — at least until it becomes inconvenient or challenging.’
As trainers, it’s easy dividing the pigs from the chickens.
Pigs come with vision. They understand that exercise and proper diet can’t be the flavour of the month — they are the new normal.
Pigs have experienced a watershed moment. A line in the sand has been drawn. They make measurable, definitive statements like, “I will adopt a healthy lifestyle for the rest of my life”; “I will never eat highly processed food”; “Exercise is a permanent appointment in my calendar.”
Pigs are also realistic. Open to the fact they will never grace the cover of a magazine, they instead focus on being the best they can be within genetic limitations. ‘I was given this body, lets see what it can do.’ No fast track, just hard work and persistence.
Chickens, on the other hand, search out quick-fix solutions with flexible parameters such as fad diets, weight loss boot camps, and equipment purchases that require no effort from the exerciser.
Chickens say, “My doctor is making me exercise”; “I’m going to try and cut back sugar for a month”; “I’ve joined boot bamp in prep for Cancun.”
Lack of ownership, escape clauses and limited timelines are the enemies of change. People like them because they offer an easy out or someone to blame. If things aren’t going your way, simply alter course.
Another strategy for chickens is understating goals. “I don’t want to get too muscular”; “I don’t really need to lose weight.” In both cases people mask true intentions with vague ‘health’ goals.
Saying you don’t want to look better, feel better or be better is like saying you aren’t interested in being happier or more successful. These statements often come from fear of failure or lack of confidence. Of course, there are people who don’t need to lose weight or gain muscle — we just don’t come across them too often.
Like pigs, chickens are realistic about their cover model prospects, but many have given up trying to explore individual potential.
Before we start judging the wishy-washy chickens, its important to recognize there’s another element to this equation. Many pigs started out as chickens.
Not many first-timers stick to exercise their first time out. It often takes several tries, each time building familiarity, knowledge and confidence. In fact, stumbling in frustration can strengthen resolve down the road. After all, there are many valid reasons for course correction.
The key to all of this is perspective and attitude.
Many naïve, first-time exercisers think a few training sessions will change everything. This is foreign territory. It’s a bit of an awakening when they come to the realization that exercise involves repeated exercise.
Again, healthy living comes from establishing a new normal.
For most of us, brushing your teeth is as assumed as commuting. When people understand that exercise is also a basic necessity, things begin to change. Arteries flow, pounds drop and muscles tighten. Before you know it, vibrant, healthy living becomes part of the routine.
In a culture that celebrates materialistic, push-button solutions it’s hard to wrap your head around patience and commitment. Massages, hair, nails and tattoos? Sure! Fresh produce and exercise? Umm, pass.
Looking to make health and wellness a permanent fixture? Understanding that commitment is a muscle that requires exercise and practice is often the first step.