What I Learned About Fitness by Painting a Wall
To be a great coach, I have to relate to my clients. I don’t struggle (much) with my fitness or nutrition anymore, so it’s good to humbled in another arenas. It allows me to feel the frustration of learning, change, and set backs — since that’s part of transforming our health and bodies.
What better way to dish up some humble pie than getting my ass handed to me in a DIY project.
“What could be so difficult?” I thought.
Well, a lot apparently.
Here is what happened and why I think it was a lot like fitness:
1. Not listening to friends who offered to help me.
Ever hear someone say, “Here is what you need to do.” No one likes hearing that, but we should listen to people who have more experience than we do. I don’t coach that way or push my advice on people, but sometimes there is just one right answer, and in those cases, I lay it out pretty clearly for the client.
Any successful person I know has mentors. So I should have listened to the people who tried to help me paint.
2. Underestimating the project.
Classic blunder. Part of this was ignoring advice, but it got worse.
I needed more paint than I thought. This has to be the rookie-est of painting mistakes. At this point I knew I was screwed, and laughed at my own stubbornness and the pending disaster.
I thought of all the clients who have come to me underestimating the time it takes to lose twenty pounds. I blame the media and supplement industry with their exaggerated stories of weight loss. But I found myself saying, “That all makes sense.”
I wonder if part of the misconception comes from the fact that weight loss comes easy for some. They eat less and move more, and it falls off them.
3. Not knowing what to do, technically speaking.
You can eat less, move more, eat more veg, and less junk, and still not get fit. Some bodies hang on to excess body fat more than others. Advanced strategies must be employed.
Same with my project. Apparently red is the most difficult colour to paint with (which makes NO sense to me but that’s what they say). If I didn’t have experts guiding me I’d never have finished (yes I eventually listened to them but only after failing a few times).
4. Not knowing that I didn’t know.
This is worse than #3 (where If I asked the right question, I got the right answer). But the experts didn’t tell me everything I needed to know!
For example, no one told me which kind of paint roller to buy. No one told me that tape can get stuck to the wall and peel your paint off. Really wish I had of known that! No one told me the paint in the can looks different vs on the wall. That stressed me out! (I actually had accepted the fact that the wall was now going to be pink, not red).
If you have an expert looking out for you, they foresee these issues.
5. I had to start over at one point.
If you see a kid fall off his bike, you don’t berate them. Why should we shame adults for struggling with their weight (and people do).
As I painted over my first coat with primer (starting over) I thought about all the people who have come to me saying, “I’ve tried before and it didn’t work.” I just congratulate them for trying again and promise them better results, if they put the work in.
There were two motivators to rush through my project.
Firstly, painting was unpleasant because I didn’t have mastery over it. Do you rush through tasks when you’re not sure if you’re doing it right?
I see this in my clients. They rush in the beginning because it’s uncomfortable, and can miss concepts.
The second way I lost my patience was from the feeling that I was getting good at it, and I could cut corners. This is human nature. We always want to test how little we can do and still get results.
But like with fitness, I was quickly punished for my lack of patience.
7. You can’t do it all at once.
Or even in batches. You will always at some point need to stop and let paint dry. In fitness, I felt this related well to the concept of daily work trumping over-doing it a few times a week.
8. Perspective: Closer isn’t better.
Meanwhile, I noticed that the closer I looked at my wall, the more imperfections I noticed. But if I stepped back and looked at it, I was thrilled with the progress.
Human bodies are beautiful… until you put a bright light on one part of it, take it out of context, and zoom in on it.
Further, everyone has things about their body’s they don’t like. Unfortunately in my line of work, I hear about these parts the most. Psychologists have a name for this and it’s “positive-negative asymmetry.”
So step back and look at the big picture 😀
9. Being patient with daily attention still did not make up for bad technique and lack of knowledge.
If the plan is wrong, it doesn’t matter how hard you work.
As I approached the end of my project, I was about to take a big fall, unbeknownst to me.
10. Making a mistake led to other things going wrong.
This refers to the above gaff. If I was more careful, or worked in the recommended timline, or didn’t start over, the tape wouldn’t have been painted onto the wall.
And when I went to repair the patch, I painted more of the ceiling accidentally.
The link to fitness is if you don’t prepare food or have a meal service, you will have a very tough time eating right. Or if you skip your lunch, you will have cravings at night, no matter how perfect the rest of your day was.
Mistakes can snowball and interventions usually lay uphill.
11. When I thought I was done, I learned about more ways this could go wrong.
Again this is referring to the above paint-stripping gaff.
In fitness I would relate this to people checking-out mentally before the project is done. It’s human nature to do so because things have been going so well, the tendency is to relax. Sustaining weight loss is more rare than weight loss. Think about it.
Ultimately, I am extremely pleased with the project outcome, even though I can find a lot of little flaws with it. It’s about seeing the big picture. I could not have done it with out a lot of advice. If I had of taken it earlier, it would have been a lot easier.
I learned a lot about painting (new life skills) and a little about life. Also I love my new environment. That was the whole point.
Look how great I cut the ceiling in here. Notice the deep seven-coat hue of deep red. What great fitness blog doesn’t have a selfie — haha.
Thanks to my friend Kate G and to my buddy Carleton Ellis who is trying his hand at decor consulting http://imagebyellis.com/about.html