Stories

I just spent a few days at the Human Performance Institute.  It was a thrill to be there because I’ve been following the work of HPI founder, Dr. Jim Loehr, my entire career. He is sport psychologist who figured out how to package and deliver performance enhancement strategies to corporate executives.

One of the primary offerings at HPI is a 2+ day intensive Corporate Athlete Course in which they contend energy management – not time management – is the key to being happier and healthier professionally and personally. HPI coaches teach clients to make significant changes by utilizing an arsenal of nutrition and exercise strategies such as:

  • Eat light and eat often;
  • Be sure your diet is comprised of 80% “need” foods and 20% “want” foods;
  • Do interval training at least two times per week;
  • Carry a resistance band in your briefcase so you can train in an office, airplane, or hotel room if need be.

These strategies are nothing new. What’s great about HPI, however, is that they place these behavior change strategies in the context of evidence-based, holistic, performance psychology models.

For instance, self-talk is a popular strategy used in the world of sport for peak performance. HPI coaches challenge clients to recognize their self-talk. “When you’re constantly working late at the office…when you’re with your kids but working on your blackberry….when you tell yourself you don’t have time to exercise…..what is your justification? What are you saying to yourself to validate these types of behaviors? What’s your story?”

Stories are HPI’s version of self-talk. Stories are what we tell ourselves to justify unhealthy behaviors. We all have stories:

  • “We were members of the clean-plate-club in my family, so now I feel guilty when I don’t finish an entire meal.”
  • “If I leave to exercise my boss will think I have nothing else to do.”
  • “I deserve a cocktail after working so hard.”
  • “My father taught me to work hard, play hard.”
  • “If I want to socialize with my friends, I have to go out and drink with them.”
  • “A bowl of ice cream every night helps me unwind from the day.”
Where do your unhealthy habits come from? Why are they a part of your daily living? The answers to these questions reveal your story.
I eat too much. My old story is that I eat too much because “I’m stressed; I don’t have time to eat; we always ate so fast in my family; I’m a bad person if I waste my food……” Now each time I eat, I think about my new story.
In order to effectively change behavior, we must know our stories and we must want to rewrite them.

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