GET WITH THE PROGRAM!
My job as your “Derailleur” is to remind you if you want to feel better, have more energy and perhaps even live longer – look no further than exercise. The health benefits of regular physical activity are hard to ignore.
But let’s address the most forgotten and underdeveloped muscle in our bodies – my favorite one to use. This muscle is often our weakest muscle but one of the most important muscles we could strengthen. So while you are making resolutions to get into shape in 2014, don’t forget to include exercising your “Change Muscle”!
Where exactly is your Change Muscle located? It actually covers every inch of your body and every inch of your mind. It’s the muscle we use for creating changes in our lives, and like our physical muscles, it becomes weak if we don’t train it. Ariane de Bonvoisin, introduced us to our Change Muscles in her book “The First 30 Days.” She suggests our Change Muscle develops from “all of the changes that we have been through – the big ones, small ones, unexpected ones and the ones we have initiated.” And if we learn to strengthen our Change Muscle, it can become the most useful muscle in our bodies! The stronger it is, the easier it is to navigate change. Increased comfort with change means increased comfort with anything that comes our way.
Strengthening your Change Muscle is similar to strengthening your physical muscles…it means effort, a little sweat and incredible results if you stay dedicated. For the beginner it is important to build a base of core strength and flexibility before moving on to more complex workouts. The same can be said for strengthening your Change Muscle.
Step 1: Assess your fitness level and your Change Muscle strength.
You probably have some idea of how fit you are physically. Assessing and recording baseline fitness scores give you benchmarks against which to measure your progress. The same is true for assessing your level of strength of your Change Muscle. By determining how quickly you traditionally navigate change, how often you get stuck in change or how much change scares you; you will have a good sense of your Change Muscle fitness level. If your answers to these questions include “change is hard, change is paralyzing or change is terrible” then it requires a different level of strengthening that if your answers are “change is ok, I welcome it”. Assessing your comfort level with change is the first step to understanding the work that your Change Muscle needs to become strong and powerful.
Step 2: Design your Change Muscle fitness program
It’s easy to say that you’ll exercise every day. But you’ll need a plan. As you design your fitness program for your Change Muscle, keep these points in mind:
- Consider your change fitness goals. Having clear goals can help you gauge your progress. Determine what success looks like and estimate how long it will take you to strengthen your Change Muscle to the level you desire. And be realistic. If you haven’t used your Change Muscle recently, like a muscle in your body, it won’t snap back into shape immediately. It will take time. But remember the rewards of putting in the effort.
- Put it on paper. A written plan may encourage you to stay on track. What change are you focused on and how will you know when you are successful? By writing it down and logging your progress, you dramatically increase your odds for success.
- Go at your own pace and load gradually. If you’re just beginning to exercise your Change Muscle, start cautiously and progress slowly. The goal is to gradually improve your range of motion, strength and endurance for your Change Muscle. Not to burn it out in the first workout. By increasing your load gradually the little changes that once seemed huge will appear tiny in the rear view mirror. By starting small in the beginning you will ensure sustainability in your workout. And your body gets used to the new challenges you introduce to it. With each day, you will build up your Change Muscle stamina.
- Build activity into your daily routine. Finding time to exercise your Change Muscle can be as much of a challenge as finding the time to move your physical body. To make it easier, schedule time to exercise your Change Muscle as you would any other appointment. Plan to take 5 minutes a day to exercise your Change Muscle and focus on the change you wish to make.
- Deliberate practice. Daily effort and deliberate practice will be key to your Change Muscle. Like anything you practice, if you “half attempt it” you will get “half success.” So practice the change with dedication, intention and mindfulness.
- Allow time for rest and recovery. Many people start exercising with frenzied zeal — working out too long or too intensely — and give up when their muscles and joints become sore or injured. Plan time between sessions for your Change Muscle to rest and recover. Don’t try to change everything, all day long…remember that with 5 minutes of practice everyday, the Change Muscle will get the workout it needs and the recovery to continue the change the next day. There is a great deal of “under-recovering” in workout regimes as we seem to try and make up for all of the time we were not working out, but this creates burn out and is unsustainable.
- Fuel your Change Muscle properly. Like with any workout, the body needs fuel to continue its effort. The same with your Change Muscle. No fuel, no energy to face changes. The fuel to provide your Change Muscle? Motivation and celebration! By charting your progress, celebrating small victories, or inviting a friend to join you in your “change-workout” will increase your success exponentially.
Now you’re ready for action. Remember to monitor your progress and listen to what your Change Muscle is telling you. Too much too soon brings pain and decreases your chance for success. Not enough effort won’t give you the results you want and you’ll give up sooner. Picking the right “equipment” for your Change Muscle workout is also important to your success. Your equipment may mean exercising with a friend who may also be looking to make similar changes so you aren’t working out alone. And if you do lose motivation, set new goals or try a new activity. Stay creative and keep things fresh.
Starting an exercise program to develop your Change Muscle is one of the most important decisions you can make. But it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. By planning carefully and pacing yourself, you can establish a healthy habit that lasts a lifetime. And like any good exercise program, small movements, gradual load increase, deliberate practice, and rest and recovery are key components to strengthening your Change Muscle.
Now get out there and show off those “change muscles”!
Amy Magyar is a Derailleur. She helps her clients across North America change their gears, their pace, and their direction. She is the essential piece of equipment to get you where you need to move forward at a different pace and with a different power. As an industry veteran and a Certified Performance Coach, Amy works with individuals who are athletes, were athletes, or wish to be athletes, on navigating change.