“…when you focus only on what your work offers you, it makes you hyperaware of what you don’t like about it, leading to chronic unhappiness.” Cal Newport

  I hate.. working out, eating broccoli, making healthy meals, skipping happy hour….

 As long as I can fit into my “skinny jeans”

Look great in my bikini

Get rid of my belly

Do you ever do something only for the “payoff”?

Are there times that you commit to something only for the purpose of knowing it will end and you are expecting some reward, or payoff in the end?

Have you ever quit because, you are only focusing on what the work is not doing for you?

I truly believe there is nothing wrong with setting goals and expectations, getting “paid” for your efforts and hard work.

Yet what happens, when the payoff is not what you expect?

Have you ever stepped on the scale and it doesn’t say what you thought you work so hard to achieve?

Or you go to the closet to put on your favorite skinny jeans, knowing all the work you have been putting in at the gym and eating what you “should” and they still don’t fit?

Many days I hear so many of my client’s sound dejected and defeated when I tell them they have lost 1,2, 3lbs and gained a 1lb or 2 of muscle.

“Really Jen, I thought I would have lost so much more, that is so frustrating….”,

 “I would have thought with all the work I did the results would have been so much better!”

As much as I want to say I am above wanting to get “paid” for my efforts, I know that is totally not true.

Not very long ago I trained to do my first bodybuilding show.  My intention was nothing more than getting up there and doing it.  No I wasn’t looking to win, I just wanted to see if I had it in me to get up there and do it.

Besides the fact, that as a novice it would have been an extreme long shot for me to win anyway.  So I trained for the sheer joy of setting out to complete this goal.

When I started, it was me putting my head down and working for more than 4 months.  It was all about my goal of getting up on stage and not making a fool out of myself.

Every workout, every meal, was focused on getting better and closer to that goal of getting up on stage and doing my best.

If my coach said do more cardio, I would do more cardio, if my coach said cut back on my carbs I would cut back on my carbs, spend more time on my leg workouts, don’t drink water, take more supplements, I did what I was told.

It may have been uncomfortable but I knew my overall goal was to get up there and be my best.

And the day of the show came, I got up there and did my best.  And that was all I wanted.  Yet my best seemed to have been the best at that show because I won.

Crazy as it was, I won?!

And then something changed,

I signed up for my next show, knowing that I won the first thinking maybe I have something, maybe I could win again.

And I did…

Already committed to another show a few months away.  Something changed in me, I was looking for my payoff of winning.

And I totally was hating my workouts, hating what I was eating, I only signed up for the next one hungry for another win (the big payoff).  Everything about what I was doing had nothing to do with being my best, it was only about that win, I was miserable!

My workouts were less than stellar, my eating was way off track and I really wasn’t looking forward to the show, other than to win.

All the things that got me the wins in the past, went by the wayside, so of course I was miserable when I didn’t win.  I knew deep down I didn’t do the work I needed to win. 

What I learned from this experience was my misery was only caused by me expecting my “payoff” of a win.

 The very fact that the only reason I did the last show was to win, was flawed thinking.

 So this is where I see a lot of my clients fail in their thinking.

When you are expecting a certain “pay off”;

Number on the scale,

Certain jean size,

Gain in muscle, or

Rock hard abs (six pack even)

 and you don’t get that “pay off”

 Does that mean you quit?  Or do you reconsider what is your true “payoff” or expectations of living a lifestyle which consistently includes eating and exercising for your best self?

This is where the rubber hit the road for me, I had to redefine my own reasoning behind my bodybuilding career.

In the end it really wasn’t about the win for me, what got me the most joy was the process of living my best, doing my best, pushing my limits and not giving up.

The boost in my self-esteem and my self-confidence were two of the biggest payoffs. 

Knowing that no matter what happened up there on stage I felt good about how hard I worked, enjoying how it changed me for the better.

It taught me that I was capable of overcoming my fears. 

It taught me that I could accomplish something even though it made me uncomfortable. 

 It taught me that the win was just a side effect of me being my best.

 And I knew that even if I didn’t win, I was still absolutely happy with my work, I DID MY BEST!

  And you must be saying…. “Well Jen, you are in the business of getting your clients results, RIGHT? “

So of course the pay off or expectation should be lower numbers on the scale, smaller pants size, or even rock hard abs.

Yet I also know that those expectations or payoffs are like me going for my win in bodybuilding.

These expectations can lead to misery and unhappiness if you don’t get that result. 

 “Having goals or even reaching them doesn’t guarantee that we are leading a purposeful existence. To experience a sense of purpose, the goals we set for ourselves need to be intrinsically meaningful” Tal Ben-Shahar

 So this is what I am going to say about the “pay off’s”

  • Put in the work and do your best, to be your best.
    • When it comes to winning or losing on the scale or wearing a smaller size or even getting a six pack; these results can be fleeting. 
    •  The primary purpose for better health and wellness should be you becoming a better version of you.
      •  As Tal Ben Shahar says, a goal needs to have some “intrinsic meaning”, which could mean living a happier life. Not because your jeans fit better but because you are contributing to being a better you. 
  •  Stay open to the possibility of what you reclaim or claim for the first time.
    • I was able to reclaim my self-esteem, self-confidence and overcome my fears.
    • Maybe you don’t fit into a pair of jeans, or maybe you do, but what you may discover is that you have started liking yourself and your world around you along the way.
      • This journey can help you clean out any mental “messes” (always looking for the payoff) and rediscover what really matters, the journey and the work.

Okay so let’s say you do “win”,

in those short/shorts,

abs of steel,

rocking those skinny jeans;

Remember not to lose sight of what it takes to get there and don’t lose sight of your true meaning behind getting to the gym, eating your broccoli or drinking more water.

It should never be about what the work gives you.  It should always be about you putting in the work necessary that gets you a “payoff”.  Otherwise as Cal Newport points out, that can only lead to “chronic unhappiness”

If you like what I have to say and want to learn more about finding a better payoff from your exercise and eating plan, join my inner email circle to get even more tips, tricks and workouts that will help you break out of the misery of “dieting”.  Click here to sign up