I may be showing my age here but I recall those two little words dominating every 5th grader’s vocabulary when Clueless first came out. That’s right…I was still in elementary school when Alicia Silverstone was the ‘it’ girl of Hollywood.
Judge me all you want but I still love that movie.
Alicia’s character, Cher was truly a gem. A spoiled, Beverly Hills rich kid who learned that a “soul makeover” was more fulfilling than a shopping spree is the stuff of Hollywood magic.
The characters and some of the plot lines are borderline ridiculous (and, hilarious) but it parallels a lot of what we go through in our own journey to self-discovery, and yes, even fitness.
When it comes to changing our lifestyle for the better, picking up habits that will lead us to fat loss or strength and performance gains, we can all learn a little something from our Clueless characters.
Whip out the kettle corn (that’s healthier, right?), dim the lights and let’s look at Clueless from a fit pro’s point of view. Here’s what we can learn from Cher about what not to do when changing our health and fitness habits.
You’re focused on your looks
Cher’s favorite hobby, other than shopping, was making herself and other people pretty. It’s why she took to Brittany Murphy’s character (RIP!) and set out to help her with a complete makeover. Only problem was, changing her friend’s appearance to conform with the rest of the ‘in’ crowd didn’t satisfy Cher. Quite the opposite really – she felt like she had created a monster instead.
When we’re ready to make a big lifestyle change or want to channel some new habits to change our physique, there’s a good chance we’ll end up like Cher: mildly successful but completely unsatisfied. And while good habits will reap wonderful aesthetics for anyone, when it’s the primary goal you will not win.
Because the goal is never as simple as “lose 30 lbs” or “look sexy naked.” There are all very good goals (in fact, I strive for physique goals myself) but they are also the easiest goals to give up on when progress stalls or we get busy, get sick, or relapse into our old, bad habits.
Our bodies are constantly adapting to new stressors and demands. When we aspire to look like someone else or to look like what we did a decade ago, we’re fighting a losing battle.
Instead, we should dig deeper and aim for lifestyle or performance goals first. Examples:
“I want to keep up with my co-workers during our softball games”
“I want to go hiking and enjoy the gorgeous views when I travel to new destinations.”
“I’d like to keep up with my kids as they get older.”
“I’d like to hit 10 unassisted pull-ups.”
“I want to compete in a powerlifting meet.”
“I want to learn to clean and jerk.”
Not only will a lifestyle or performance goal keep you on track for the long haul, but it encourages healthy, sustainable habits. The physique will still come as a by product.
You let negativity hold you down
Whether we’re taking in someone else’s negativity or our own, the truth is our inner dialogue has tremendous influence over our health, happiness and performance.
It’s amazing how much crap we talk about ourselves and to ourselves on a daily basis. Case in point: a friend of mine is embarking on a new health journey. So far she’s called herself “a whale”, “a beast”, and somewhere in between she called out the fact that she needs to lose 40lbs (she doesn’t, in case you’re wondering). She laments the loss of carbs, desserts and fast food from her diet.
Changing our habits is very uncomfortable. Talking smack to ourselves, however, doesn’t improve our chances for success. Nor does listening to the negativity around us. So ditch the self-hating banter in your head or participating in negative talk with your pals. Surround yourself with as many positive, encouraging people as possible. When Cher embarked on her soul makeover journey, she started hanging out with lawyers and watching the news. She gets an A for effort, even if she did think they had declared peace in the Middle East…
Remember that someone else’s negativity is their personal problem. This great post from trainer Kourtney Thomas ‘If my belly offends you, that’s on you’ is a great reminder of that.
You’re fixated on the outcome
You have to hand it to Cher, she really knew how to go after her goals. She pursued one love interest so hard she completely missed the fact that he was actually gay. She was literally clueless!
When she focused on the outcome – finding a boyfriend for herself or fixing up a friend with someone else – she failed. Big time!
Similarly, putting all our energy and focus into the ideal outcome can backfire. This is why the arbitrary “I want to lose 10lbs” goal is rarely satisfying. Lord forbid you actually only lose 6lbs and miss the fact that you have leaner muscle, look amazing, toned, are energized and happy. Those last 4lbs don’t mean anything in that context. Reaching our ideal outcome is always nice, but trusting the process might get you better results if you just quit obsessing with the outcome you think is right.
Case in point: Mark Zuckerberg wanted to create an online resource that let him stalk other people at Harvard. He had zero intention of changing the world or making money. His imagination could not even fathom the Facebook that we know today. Thank God for that because Facebook is a wonderful tool (and where the LLF tribe hangs out!).
Don’t get so caught up in the end goal that you miss all the wins, PR’s, and progress you make during your journey.
You set unrealistic expectations
Cher had a knack for setting unreal expectations. She dreamed of having a perfect boyfriend, a bubbly best friend of her own creation, and the perfect shade of lipstick. Pretty sure she got the lipstick down right but everything else blew up in her face.
Setting realistic goals and expectations is not about thinking small. It’s about being honest. I would love six-pack abs but I’m honest with myself about my lifestyle. I refuse to give up wine at dinner, chocolate or dining out with friends for that kind of physique.
Dream big but know where you are right now. Want to compete in the CrossFit Games but haven’t worked out in two years? Then commit to taking CrossFit classes a few days a week. Want to lose weight without doing hours of cardio? Hire a trainer to give you a proper program.
Enthusiasm gets us started but it’s honesty and humility that keeps us on the right path for the long haul. It’s okay to fail. Or, take longer to realize a goal you set for yourself. But don’t shit talk yourself for not hitting that PR or goal weight when you thought you would (See #1).