Sometimes a Girl's Gotta Rant
A couple of days ago I got really pissed off. Really, really pissed off. I wanted to work on crafts and projects, but knew I needed to go out and get in some walking. And I didn’t want to. At the root of my anger was this little nagging voice I’ve been ignoring for a couple of weeks, reminding me I’ve been getting lazy about eating properly and exercising. I’ve lost a lot of weight, but I’m still not at a healthy weight. Some old habits have crept back in, and the scale has gone up one pound, two pounds, three pounds, four pounds. I’ve seen this movie before. I know how it ends: right back where I started at 232 (or more) pounds.
And I was really, really grumpy about the whole thing. I knew about self-talk, I knew I needed to use positive language to offset my negative self-talk, but I just couldn't muster enough rational thinking to offset the irrational thoughts. What I wanted was a big bag of cookies. What I needed was a good rant.
Call in the Health Coach (Me!)
Since earning my Personal Trainer and Health Coach Certifications I've had one client: Me. I had planned for this moment. I told myself to take fifteen minutes to to write out everything I could to answer the question, what am I angry about? I didn’t judge myself; I didn’t try to reason with thoughts. I didn’t censor, filter, or fix anything. I just pulled up my favorite brainstorming software and wrote out everything that was in my head as fast and thoroughly as I could. Here’s what my “rant list” looked like:
Once I got started I couldn't stop. I wrote until I couldn’t think of anything else. Literally, my brain was empty. Then I did something unplanned and unexpected: I threw on some warm clothes, grabbed my iPod and went for a walk. I walked furiously, sloshing up and down the muddy trail like a woman possessed. I walked as hard and as fast as I could. I played my music loud and sang when I had the breath for it. All I could think about was getting my exercise out of the way so I could do what I really wanted to do.
When I got home after 4 hilly miles, I surprised myself again: I went straight to my fitness room (that I have ignored for a couple of weeks) and completed a full resistance workout, followed by a shower and a healthy lunch.
I returned to my rant, intending to add more to it. But I couldn’t think of anything else to rant about.
Instead, I started another list to answer the question, what am I feeling now? I call this the “realities list”
When I ran out of ideas again, I looked at the two lists side by side, and realized they belonged together. So I matched the rants with the realities:
There were a couple of rants that didn’t have anything to match with, so I dug deep and wrote honest responses. Turns out it was pretty easy, and in the end, I had a reality for every single rant.
For the rest of the day, I ate properly, avoiding the mindless snacking that had started to creep back into my daily routines. The following morning, for the first time in more than a week, I didn’t dread the morning weigh-in. I told myself: Don’t think about next year, next month, next week, or tomorrow. Just focus on today.
In coaching terms, at least three things happened here. First, I turned negative self-talk (rantings) into positive self-talk (realities). Second, I replaced negative habits (not working out, snacking) with a positive activity (walking). Third, I applied a strategy I had planned ahead of time (writing) to deal with negative emotions rather than feeding those emotions with empty calories.
The “Rants to Realities” brainstorm technique is incredibly powerful, productive, and free. All you need is a paper and pen. Try it yourself the next time you’re tempted to give up on your plans, the next time you need to be reminded why you’re worth the effort!