Positive Pressure

We are right in the middle of playoff football, and there’s nothing that screams high pressure more for these athletes than being in a one-game elimination tournament. Ultimately, the teams who handled the pressure the best will move on to play in the Super Bowl in two weeks. The two teams who let the pressure deviate from their game plan will be on the golf course come February 3rd. Pressure plays a role in all of our lives regardless if you are on the football field or, making a presentation to a new client. In order to end up on the right side of success, how you handle pressure needs to be a key component of the equation.

What does pressure have anything to do with health and fitness? In the 15 years, I have been involved in fitness, I have seen many success stories. Unfortunately, I have seen many more people give up on their goals, and go back to their old habits. The decision to stop exercising regularly, or to eat poorly again, has many different physical and emotional factors. There is no cookie-cutter situation, and I have the utmost empathy for anyone who “falls off the wagon.” However, there has been one determine the factor that I have seen in almost every one of these situations… They didn’t feel any pressure to change.

The people who have started their fitness journey because a doctor told them that they need to get healthier, or they are going to die prematurely, have a level of pressure that is literally life-threatening. Put yourself in the scenario of walking out of your primary care doctor’s office, after he or she just told you that you can extend your life if you start exercising. Would this make you feel pressured to seek out a gym or personal trainer? For most people that answer is yes. These are the people that I have found to have the most success in reaching their fitness goals.

Pressure can come in many forms, it doesn’t just have to be life-threatening. It can be pressure about fitting into a dress on your wedding day. It can be the pressure of being in a bathing suit during your next vacation. It can be pressure from a spouse who would rather watch the game while falling asleep, instead of showing interest in having sex with you anymore. Regardless of what that pressure is, how you handle the pressure and apply it to your actions plays a major role in your success.

How do you learn to apply pressure in a positive way? Here are three steps you can take today, to start shifting your mindset around making pressure a positive driving force in your pursuit of reaching your goals.

#1. Pressure is normal

If you understand that pressure is something that everyone feels, it makes handling it a lot easier. Even the most chilled out Buddhist Monk has felt pressure in his/her life. The feeling of pressure is something that is as part of our human nature as any other emotion we have. We make it feel different, because of the way we perceive it in our minds. However, it is a completely normal part of human nature, so embrace it — don’t try and ignore it.

#2. Prepared for the pressure

When you are prepared, even the most pressure-packed situation can be a walk in the park. Preparation and organization takes the pressure out of pressure situations. When you have to make quick decisions, instead of relying on your good habits, you can feel the pressure to get to you. If you have already planned and prepped for it ahead of time, it makes the situation that much easier to navigate. Take meal prepping for example. Let’s say you planned your meals ahead of time, packed your lunch when leaving for work, and then was faced with a decision at lunchtime. Your boss ordered pizza today for the office, but your doctor told you that you need to lose 10 pounds. When lunchtime rolls around, being prepared to make that decision by having your lunch ready takes the pressure off of you to say yes to the pizza. You have already prepared for the situation, so the habit of choosing the healthier option becomes easier to develop.

#3. The pressure is only in the present

To live in the present is a concept that is taught by many therapists to help people deal with anxiety. The pressure is just another version of anxiety. When you learn to realize that the pressure you’re feeling is strictly in this moment, and can be gone by the next, it makes handling the pressure much more manageable. Take that feeling for what it actually is, which is a feeling that you have RIGHT NOW and not one that lasts forever. This will help you act on it accordingly, and not overcomplicate the situation. Use the pressure that you are feeling at the moment to drive you to eliminate it by executing your goals. The longer that you hold off from executing, the longer that the pressure will build up and affect you.

These are just three of the many ways that you can handle, and even use pressure to positively affect the outcome. If you need help with overcoming the pressure to get healthier this year, sign up for our 6-Week Challenge that is starting on January 28th. You will get full accountability, fitness, and nutrition coaching, which will help you mitigate the pressure that you are feeling.