It’s very likely that you are reading this post and have had to pull out some form of ID recently. Maybe to check in to your gym, use your work-badge to get through the doors at work, or purchase a large ticket item. Christmas is just around the corner, the lucky recipient of that large purchase item is going to be very glad you had your ID on you. And after all the holiday over the top indulgences, your now extra “jolly” mid-section is going to be very glad you had your gym membership credentials on you!
Many reasons exist for having an ID. Identification comes in many forms, but oddly does not show what really matters in the form of character. There are certain pieces of information we commonly consider important enough to identify and capture on various forms of ID, as well as through our Facebook and social media profiles. Going beyond identifying ourselves on paper and online, we also identify ourselves outwardly through our style, fashion statements, music, home décor, car choices, shoes, and basically any and all forms of self expression we choose to share with the world. As a personal trainer I think I have a good excuse for indulging myself in some cool gym gear every now and then. Who doesn’t love a new Lululemon pullover if given the opportunity to add to their gym collection? Dear Santa, I have been very good this year….please remember me when you are wrapping up the latest New Balance 1400’s. My feet will thank you!
Beyond identifying with the trends and material things that come and go with fads, the true meaning of our identity is found in the connection with value of character. What is the force that keeps you connected to these things that you identify with? There is a perceived amount of value in that inward drive and force. Identifying outwardly with a means of expression doesn’t need to be labeled as a good or bad thing. It is important and healthy to fully express and be who we are. Further fulfillment is found when those things can be shared outwardly with others who can appreciate and see the same beauty in those various expressions we consider worthy enough to develop as a statement of our best selves.
….What is your statement of your BEST self?
The things that we choose to identify ourselves with should make us better, more expanded, open to new ideas, and always evolving. It should lead us on to higher levels of acknowledgement and understanding within ourselves and with others. It should never isolate or separate us from common courtesy of the greater good. A responsibility to create at a level of inclusiveness not exclusiveness is something that needs to be considered when we take a look at our outlets of identification. Stop for just a second to think about the things that you give 80% of your time and thoughts towards. That is probably what you connect with and value the most. These values drive and motivate you to continue to be (or not to be) the person you are. Shakespeare had no idea what the heck Lululemon was, but I can bet he would encourage constant questioning of what we identify our lives with; while wearing a nice pair of track pants.
One of my personal 80% outlets I have chosen to express myself in is RUNNING. Running falls under the overall category of health and wellness, but it is an individual driver for me that gives me satisfaction and motivation within the realm of health and wellness. I have spent over 13 years of my life running consistently just for fun and for the challenge. Yep, that’s right for the pure enjoyment of it! I unexpectedly discovered my first taste of running through the high school track team. It really only began as an out of the box new activity to try since I was more into dancing and performing. I wasn’t looking for a college track scholarship, but what I did find was a powerful connection with the feeling of sweating from hard work, pushing my own limits of endurance, the “runners high” in the form of mind clearing clarity, and an intimate connection to total body movement with the rhythm of my breath. I love being “in the zone”. High school track stopped, but I kept running. I eventually made my statement as a “runner”. I have also enjoyed participating in different full and half marathon races. I don’t identify myself with a 26.2 bumper sticker on my car, but I sure know in my heart what 26.2 miles feels like to endure without a bumper sticker to testify it! It is interesting the ways in which we all like to shout to the world THIS IS ME! Whatever you choose to shout to the world make it a statement of real value.
Outside of running there are many other fitness enthusiastic groups out there including cross-fiters, ZENful yogis, diehard fitness competitors, gritty fighters, enthusiastic long-distance cyclists, these examples are only just to name a few. The passion and loyalty found in the hearts of each of these fitness group identifications can reach a measure of something extreme. There is just something about the effects of participating in a physical activity that pushes us way beyond our edge that causes the connection to that activity so much more powerful. Blood, sweat, and tears really can be a powerful phenomenon when all 3 are fully experienced together!
Step out of your comfort zone
It’s amazing to connect to that empowerment and allow it to take you further into knowing more about yourself and learning the depth of strength and character that exists within every area of our capable beings. The danger in becoming too identified with anything outside of ourselves is that we can limit ourselves to that particular mindset and get too caught up in doing whatever it takes to stay identified with that connection even if it means sacrificing the integrity of something important.
I learned the hard way that this sacrifice can be our bodies own integrity and health. My “Ah-ha” moment came when I realized that the thing that I love the most was hurting me the most! AKA running!!! It can be hard to break out of a cycle that is unhealthy. Sometimes to break through an unhealthy cycle, whether it be pain, bad habits, toxic surroundings/people you have to step outside of your normal zone and get comfortable with a new way of normal. I had to rediscover new ways of training and managing my pain from Achilles tendonitis and some minor plantar fasciitis. Letting go of my connection and attachment to running actually has made me stronger than I was before. I had to step outside myself and grow and discover new ways to challenge my fitness while at the same time acknowledging and training my weaknesses.
If I would have stayed stuck in the mindset of identifying myself as a runner further injuries would have prevented me from doing anything at all. Runners are good at pushing past the pain, but more pride should be taken in the ability to know when to STOP. My future “best-self” would have been very upset if I wouldn’t have listened to the signs! My goal is to stay a runner for a long time, but be a smart savvy runner by; listening to my body, evaluating my weaknesses, and continually stepping outside myself.
Create a new identity
This is a good time of the year to make a change, step outside of your comfort zone, and identify with renewed values. As we are getting ready to reflect on 2013 and look ahead to what 2014 holds, it’s an opportunity to send your future best-self some good lovin vibes! What can you let go of, improve, love, cherish, create, change, or discover?
To help get you thinking of how to create a positive start to the year, here are 4 steps to set positive goals from my personal reference the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Murray, M.T. (2012) Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. New York: NY Simon & Schuster, Inc.:
1. State the goal in positive terms, do not use any negative words in your statements. For example it is better to say “I enjoy eating healthful, low calorie, nutritious foods” than to say “I will not eat sugar, candy, ice cream and other fattening foods.”
2. Make your goal attainable and realistic. Again, goals can be used to create a success cycle and positive self-image. Little things add up to make a major difference in the way you feel about yourself.
3. Be specific. The more clearly your goal is defined, the more likely you are to reach it. For example if you want to lose weight, what is the weight you desire? What is the body fat percentage or measurements you desire? Clearly define what is it you want to achieve.
4. State the goal in the present tense, not the future tense. In order to reach your goal, you have to believe you already attained it. You must program yourself to achieve the goal. See and feel yourself already having achieved the goal.
In 2014 I am going to continue to step outside of my comfort zone and identify with the values that empower strength, and authentic beauty. If you are interested in starting fresh and renewing your identity I will be hosting a 7 day cleanse to help set the momentum in motion for the year. Contact me for further details at www.bodyshapingcompany.com. Physical activity and movement has a way of showing us our true character. For tips, ideas, and inspiration contact us NOW and get your body moving.