What do Hollywood blockbusters and marketing books have to do with my health and fitness? On the surface, you wouldn’t think they have much in common; however, it turns out we are all living at various stages of a Hollywood movie!
I’m a voracious listener of audiobooks, and one of my recent “listens” was a marketing tome. It was fantastic for marketing, but surprisingly, it provided some great insight into why people struggle to get in shape and lose weight.
While fitness and weight loss were not the topics of the book, the information and framework presented were exactly the same journeys taken by almost every person who’s successfully transformed their life through health and fitness.
To help you see the parallel with your own health and fitness journey, I want to share the Story Brand framework with you. But more importantly, demonstrate how it can help you put your challenges into perspective while highlighting the path to reach your goals.
The Importance of Story
I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t enjoy a good story. Stories are all around us, they compel us, connect us, and inspire us. Good stories provide clarity, and context, and evoke emotion. With great ones, we overflow with emotion, and remember the message for life, even if only heard once.
The book explains that the human brain is drawn to an organization and away from chaos. Good stories put organization and context to a seemingly random series of events and help make the information and message “stick” in our minds. They also follow a very specific formula and structure to accomplish these objectives.
While there are numerous storytelling formulas, most follow a basic structure that can be summarized as:
A character has a problem, then meets a guide who gives them a plan and calls them to action. That action either results in a success or failure.
If we use this in the context of Star Wars, here is what the above example looks like (Spoiler Alert if you are the one person on the planet who hasn’t seen the movie):
Here’s what this story framework looks like for a common health and fitness journey
I just created this story, but it could be the map for thousands of clients I’ve worked with over the years. Sure, the details are a bit different for every person. Some people face more drama and struggle through the process. Sometimes it takes years, other times only months, but the basic theme, story, and journey remain the same.
Here’s my sample story. Does it sound familiar?
“My name is Sally. I graduated from University 10 years ago and got a pretty great job as a recent grad. The money was good, I was motivated, did well, got promoted regularly, and started a family.
After 5 years, the stress and job demands were high. Time was tight between work and family, and I stopped most of the recreational activities I loved doing in high school and university. It seemed that there was never enough time to fit everything in.
I still tried to stay active by running when I could and attending a few classes at the gym, but the 20 extra pounds I’d gained over the past decade were pretty stubborn. The harder I worked in the gym, the more frustrated I got because I wasn’t losing weight and my body was hurting more.
I began getting dispirited and thought “If this is what getting old is like…it SUCKS!”
One day after work, I was lamenting my frustrations over a glass of wine with friends (when I was supposed to be at the gym). A friend happened to mention a tip her coach had shared with her yesterday.
She said, “Did you know that getting in shape and losing weight isn’t about the gym?”
I looked at her with disdain and made a snarky remark about my wine being the best training session I’ve had all week!
She laughed and said. “Don’t worry, it took me a while to wrap my head around this concept. But once I started following my coach’s advice about what to do outside the gym, the results were pretty amazing. I realized that I didn’t need to spend hours in the gym, I had more energy, dialed into my passion and purpose, and actually lost 10 pounds in 6 weeks. Seriously, you should meet with my coach. I will send you his number.”
I procrastinated for a few weeks and went back to what I had been doing, convinced that upping the intensity of the one run and workout I was getting each week was the best plan.
When I hadn’t lost a pound, hurt my low back, and was more stressed than ever, I decided to swallow my pride and call my friend’s coach.
The first thing he did was send me a super long questionnaire and sit down with me to chat about it. I was a bit annoyed at the beginning because I figured our time would be better spent sweating it out in the gym. After all, isn’t that what a personal trainer should be doing?
The questionnaire asked me about my stress levels, sleep habits, eating habits, exercise, injury history, hobbies, goals, and more, but he just nodded, made some notes, and asked for clarification on a few points. I guess he saw my skepticism and said we would get into these details more in future sessions.
It wasn’t until he commented that he was a coach, not a personal trainer, explained the “stress bucket” concept, and took me through a movement analysis that I began to understand what my friend was saying.
It was during this initial coaching process that I realized I had been the biggest barrier to my own success.
I had forgotten what was important to me in life, had been focusing on the wrong things, and needed to tap into the drive that made me successful in my career and transfer that skill set to advancing my health and fitness future. Change required me to step outside my comfort zone, and after a decade, I was finally ready and believed I could do it.
The movement analysis highlighted some of the reasons why my back was sore and my body was hurting. When he explained it in such simple terms, everything made so much sense that I couldn’t understand why this wasn’t common knowledge? It made me mad that I had read and followed so many “tips” online that were so obviously flawed when viewed through this new lens.
He gave me a couple of simple homework tasks to complete over two days before our next session. I asked for more, but he said “show me that you can master these simple tasks, and then I will add more”.
This cycle of sessions and simple homework continued for a few weeks. The crazy thing is, it felt too simple.
I was actually doing less “hard work” and “intensity” than before, but within a couple of weeks, I started feeling like Superwoman.
I had some of the best sleep in years, was waking up rested, had lots of energy, and first the first time in ages, I felt motivated to take care of myself…and not out of a sense of guilt. How could it be that I actually WANTED to exercise and eat well? Why was my energy through the roof? Was it really this simple?
This mental milestone led me to reflect on how “lost and miserable” I had been without even realizing it. I wondered how many other people were simply “going through the motions” in life and not living to their potential.
The scary part is that by looking around at some of the older people in my office, I could now see where my old path would have taken me.
With my new perspective, I realized how much of my health, happiness, and drive would have been lost if I hadn’t made these changes.
Seeing a new future steeled my resolve to do what was necessary to continue experiencing this new reality. There were definitely some tough times. I had days and weeks when I felt I wasn’t making progress when everything seemed to be a struggle, and I just wanted to quit.
The stress of life, work, and parenthood were still there, but I was more skilled at managing my time and energy. In the good weeks, the check-ins with my coach were rocket fuel for greater change, and in the tough weeks, they became a retreat from the chaos, and a chance to recharge my brain and body. They helped me refocus on my purpose, and zero in on the most important habits and daily tasks that were helping me be successful.
After three months, I had lost 15 of the 20 pounds I’d put on since University but wasn’t concerned about those “last 5 pounds” because I was looking better and feeling stronger than I ever had in the past.
Even better, I was ecstatic about what future goals I would accomplish. I thought back to my friend’s comment in the pub almost 4 months ago and smiled a knowing smile. She had been right. Getting in shape and losing weight is not about the gym!”
As mentioned, this story is made up, but it clearly follows the path of most people who’ve transformed their lives through health and fitness.
They had a challenge, struggled to overcome it, found a guide, and succeeded or failed.
Book your free Success Coaching Session with FRESH! and be part of a team that brings only success.
If failure was the outcome, it’s not the end of the story. It’s simply the end of that chapter unless the hero (you) decided that the story was over.
This storyline has also been called “The Hero’s Journey”. We see it everywhere in life and on-screen.
You see, a good story needs a bit of suspense!