Posted by: itsleisa | 02/16/2010

A Tiger By Any Other Name…

Just call me Tiger. That’s my fitness name. I like it. I’m proud of it.  And thanks to the Chinese New Year – I’m keeping it.

Let me back up a little. A while ago (mid-December maybe) I took on a ‘fitness name’ that I was very happy with and excited to use to help propel me to my next level of fitness. And that auspicious and proud name was – Tiger.  In the wild a tiger is strong, bold, beautiful, cunning, and more than a little dangerous – not to be messed with, but she knows how to relax. Then there is the whole Rocky and ‘eye of the tiger’ reference, and of course my heretofore favorite sports hero, Tiger Woods. When it comes to performance and achievement, who wouldn’t want to emulate him, right? Arrrrrrrggggghhhh… You are probably miles ahead of me here – nearly immediately after  choosing my new name, current events had me seriously considering dropping it. (And if I need to spell out the reasons for that, you may need to check with your Dr. to be sure your not in a coma.)

Now backing up a little more to explain about a ‘fitness name’ why I have one, and why you might want one too.

My trainer and fitness coach, PJ Glassey, shares and teaches all kinds of really great ideas about how to train your mind to be on your side and work with you rather than against you in the matter of creating new fitness habits. This is extremely useful, because if you are anything like me, when it comes to breaking old patterns and creating new habits – you know, your mind is not your friend.

Designed for survival, not performance

For the most part, your mind is designed to maintain the status quo at nearly all costs.  So, if you have ever found it extremely challenging to stop doing the things you know you shouldn’t do, and start doing the things you know you should, not only are you in good company with 99.9% of the other humans, the good news is,  it does not mean there is something wrong with you, or that you are weak-willed or lazy – it’s just our instinctual survival mind at work, avoiding threats and trying to keep us alive. Unfortunately, it’s just not all that discerning when it comes to distinguishing real, physical threats from psychological or imagined ones.

You could spend a lifetime keeping up with all the interesting science on this subject,  such as this, and this, but for now, suffice to say, that a big part of what makes it seem soooooooo hard to change habits is just your brain doing what it’s supposed to do. That’s why if you do want to make changes, its smart to find techniques to help along the process. And creating a fitness name is one of my new favorites. Here’s why:

We are who we say we are

As humans, we are very tied into (and often times constrained by) our identity – our view of ourselves and the way we are. For example when we say things like “Oh, that’s just not me,” we really believe it is true, like the law of  gravity or something. In that moment we are certain that there is a fixed ‘me’ that is certain ways, and is not certain other ways. But, if you are willing to play around with it a little, you will find out – all that is just another trick of the mind, and in fact who we are is infinitely more fungible that we give ourselves or others credit for.

For example, in my fitness quest I used to always say “Absolutely I want to be fit, trim and healthy, but I don’t want to be some kind of fanatic about it.” Then, much as I wanted to be fitter, I would go to lengths to NOT be a fanatic about it, even if it meant avoiding things that would actually improve my health. There I was –  stuck in my version of the ‘not fanatic about fitness’ me – and it kept me from seeing, learning and doing new things that would dramatically improve my fitness such as making & taking lunch instead of going to the sandwich shop, and being willing to get in a workout even if I didn’t have time for a shower and full hair and makeup routine afterward.

Play the name game

A great way to get out of the ‘that’s not me’ trap is to take on a fitness name. Your fitness name is a nickname that you create that embodies the kind of traits and characteristics of the new habits you are working to create. Then when <insert your name here> – the one with good intentions, but <insert your Achilles heel here> doesn’t feel like doing a workout, you summon your inner super-hero and have them do the workout. It’s kind of like ‘WWJD’ only for fitness, or a new habit.

So….a while back when I created my name Tiger, I was really excited because I had thought long and hard and even done some research before choosing the name. I was determined to have a name that reflected what I was committed to. One that would have embody my new state of mind and have to power to pull me forward in those weak moments. And Tiger was it. That’s almost exactly the same moment when the Tiger-sh*t began to hit the fan. In an instant, the name that I was so proud of and excited use to help propel me past my stopping points was turned into the celebrity scandal of the decade. I was more than a little discouraged, and seriously considering it dropping it. And for a few weeks it even affected my enthusiasm for all the fitness goals I had created for the year. That’s how powerful a name is. Then, oh happy day, along comes Chinese New Year.

A tiger roars

The Year of the Tiger has revived my name, and with it, my excitement and commitment. So, I’m keeping it, and not only that, this Tiger’s gonna claw her way to the top of Columbia Tower for The Big Climb. Stay tuned for more details. Grrrrr…..

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Responses

  1. I love it!

    My fitness name (given to me by several people over the years, independent of one another) is Tigger. I bounce. I explore. I sometimes get into trouble. And when I’m feeling not very fitness-y, all I need to do is bring out my inner Tigger!

    Another brilliant idea, Leisa!

    Barak

  2. I just found this blog through a friend of mine’s page, Sandi Faviell Amorim, you may have heard of her??!?! This is awesome! I just Re-joined the gym after a long….too long time away and am really excited about being connected to my body again! Nobody has given me a fitness name as of yet, so today i named myself! Wolf. They are beautiful, playful and stealthy and really focused when running down prey!.They gym is my prey! Hear me howl world! OoooooooOOO!!

  3. Hi Brandy – Thanks for your comment, and thanks for checking out my blog. Yes, I do know Sandi – she is awesome. Great – I love your name ‘Wolf’ – now just let everyone at the gym and any other person you have supporting you in fitness know. It’s really fun when my trainer says “go Tiger!”
    Leisa


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