Are you willing?

Posted: January 15, 2009 in Random Blurbs

I’m typically a philosophical guy.  I enjoy spending time alone in deep thought and self-reflection.  Analyzing my thought patterns, internal dialogs, beliefs and values on a consistent basis is a hobby, I suppose you could say.  In a way, I believe this part of me is what has helped me be successful in particular areas of my life that are important to me.

People sometimes get annoyed with my desire to ask questions that don’t have concrete answers; you know those questions that leave you thinking.  I mean really thinking and then thinking some more.  Or better yet, I enjoy asking the sort of question that begs an answer that I ultimately keep asking why to until I’m at the supposed root of the answer; only to ask why again.  It’s sort of like a young child asking his father about something that seems to matter little:

Child:  Dad, why are you sitting there watching television?

Dad:  I’m tired and want to relax.

Child: Why are you tired?

Dad:  I worked all day.

Child: Why did you work all day?

I’m sure you know how it goes and the truth of the matter is these sorts of questions are a fine way of really learning about someone’s beliefs, values and perceptions.  Having an idea about these things in the personal training realm isn’t all that bad of an idea!

I’m simply all about looking at things in as many different ‘lights’ and from as many different angles as I’m able to wrap my head around. 

I’m fascinated by the idea of how perception can make apparently identical experiences completely exclusive to different people who possess individual beliefs and values.  This, in essence, is what gives our lives unique meanings.  You know that whole, “Tis what makes the world go round.”  At the same time, it’s what can wreak havoc in terms of people’s productivity and goals when misguided beliefs/values are yielding negative perceptions.

Every now and again on a typical day, someone will say something to me in passing that has a profound impact on my self-reflection.  Certain things will trigger me to enter a state of what most would consider day dreaming.  I prefer to call it intellectual nirvana.  The former is most likely more accurate though, but however you want to label it, it works for me.  And to answer the question you’re thinking… no, the asylum will not accept me.  Nonetheless, it’s a state where I feel as if I’m able to look at my life in totality from the outside looking in.  Having this perspective is quite powerful as it tends to remove a numbers of biases stemming from my habitual, unconscious thought patterns.  I liken it to how it’s much easier to judge the actions or beliefs of another than it is your own.  Taking this outside-in perspective on yourself negates this problem when trying to judge or analyze yourself.

The other day someone said to me, “You don’t know how much something means to you until you lose it.”

It’s a cliché phrase, but it certainly carries some weight in terms of importance in my opinion.

I started analyzing my life for things I might take for granted.  In truth, I believe we all tend to take most things for granted on any given day.  Once you factor daily routines, habits and chores into the equation, the murkiness tends to cloud those things which you value most.

I asked myself questions like, “What would it mean to me if I was injured to the extent that I could no longer exercise?  Or get around even?  What if my wife suddenly wasn’t part of my life?  What if I lost my job and was unable to afford my house and lifestyle?”  At the time I was contemplating these things, the last moments of sunlight were yielding to the horizon.  Stars were starting to shine and the sunset was astonishingly beautiful as night and day blended.  I asked myself, “What if I never saw Earth?  What if this was the first time I had ever seen a beautiful sunset?  How would I feel about what I’m seeing right now?”  The list of questions goes on and on.  When I think about things on these levels and in these terms, I don’t shortchange my imaginative visualization of these events actually playing out in my life.  I like to drudge up some emotion, regardless of how said emotion make me feel in the moment, to give my thoughts some ‘life.’

Me on top of Mt. Haleakala


Invariably, filtering your thoughts with similar ‘lenses’ can lead to profound realizations.  Bridging the gap between these realizations and your daily realities should be a high priority in your life.  We’re operating under the control of our unconscious minds most of the time.  Our emotional states and our choices reflect the ‘wiring’ of our unconscious minds. 

It’s when we think about things on the conscious level that we acutely realize that the gap between where you are currently and where you’d like to be is much vaster than you’re comfortable with.  It’s in these moments of realization when most people decide, “It’s time to change careers.”  Or, “It’s time to shed this fat and get in shape.” Or, “It’s time to start showing my loved ones the appreciation they deserve.”

These are powerful thoughts/statements.

Unfortunately, as quickly as these thoughts enter the conscious realm of your mind, they leave.  Sure, they’ll return.  But not near frequently or intensely enough to warrant a change on the unconscious level, which just happens to be the driving force of most everything you do. 

I don’t claim to have the answers.  I don’t claim to be a psychologist.  If I did have them or if I were, I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here writing this in a fitness blog.  I have, however, been fortunate enough to experience human behavior and nature in the context of fat loss in a wide array of cases.  More often than not, people know most of what needs to be done.  They simply can’t overcome their unconscious proclivities to the degree where consistency isn’t a problem.

Without consistency, long-lasting and appreciable results are not likely.

There’s not a doubt in my mind that the mental aspect of changing lifestyle habits and permanently losing fat is about as dynamic, variable and complex as things come.

That said though, I do believe in most cases you can reduce the first step of the solution to becoming more aware of your thoughts.  Most decisions/choices we make that oppose our goals are made automatically.  Automaticity is the killer of change.  Operating automatically is equivalent to operating within your comfort zone.  The mere thought of working against your natural inclinations can be viewed as more painful than it’s worth. 

Sure, you want to lose fat.  Who doesn’t?  But what will it cost?  What will have to be given up?  How do the answers to these questions stack up against your true beliefs and values that are engrained in your mind?

There are no doubt conflicts of interest there, this I promise you.  If there weren’t, consistently taking action toward your goal of losing fat (or whatever goal you have) would be a walk in the park.

That said, it should be evident that the first step to bridging this disconnect I speak of is soul searching.  As noted previously, step outside your skin and examine your life and the choices you make as if you were a stranger on the street.  What do you agree with?  What do you disagree with?

Concurrently, put pen to paper and dedicatedly examine beliefs and values you have.

Once identified, you can begin comparing these beliefs/values to your goals in life.  What beliefs do you have that work for you?  What beliefs do you have that work against you?

Do the same thing with values.

Invariably people look at me like I have 3 heads when I suggest such simplistic ‘projects.’  Yet, the responses I get to such projects are weaker than weak at first.  Thinking about what you think about is hard.  Some of these engrained beliefs, values and thoughts are so automatic that they go unnoticed.  Don’t be lazy with this. 


I tell people to act as if you had the opportunity and ability to put yourself on the witness stand and ask any and every question and demand an honest answer.  The right questions mixed with some honesty tend to produce profound answers you can use to figure out what’s making you tick.

Why do I want to lose weight?

What does losing weight mean to me?

What would it mean to my loved ones?

What would be different in my life if I lost the weight?

What does failing to lose weight mean to me?

What pains do I associate with changing my lifestyle to correspond with healthy living?

What pains do I associate with maintaining the current path I’m on?

What pleasures do I associate with changing my lifestyle to correspond with healthy living?

What pleasures do I associate with maintaining the current path I’m on?

Why do I value being healthy and fit?

What values exist that contrast the above values?

How do I identify myself?

How would I have to identify myself if I were going to walk the shoes of my goal-self?

How do I want to be remembered?

What do I take for granted?

If I were to keep tabs of every single thing I do day in and out, what things would repeat the most on these lists? 

How do these things match up to where I want to be in life?

Am I worth it?

Do I believe in myself?

Do I believe my goals are possible?

Are there any role models who walked a similar path as me and reached a similar destination I desire?

What preconceived notions do I have that are incorrect or a hindrance? (like, “there’s always tomorrow)

I could write more questions than you’d be willing to read.  For the sake of not making this article too long (I know, we passed that point long ago!) I’ll stop here.  Questions.  They’re ridiculously powerful if asked in the right context and you demand honest, deep answers.  Don’t limit yourself to my set of questions.  You undoubtedly know yourself better than I do, or anyone else for that matter.  You simply have to be willing to accept the truth and be honest with yourself.  Own up to your faults (which we all have) so you can begin replacing them.

Like I said, I think the first step to the solution can be reduced to awareness and identification.  What has to happen once you’re aware and have things identified is the variable, complex component of the solution.  As with everything else, small and incremental steps can add up to great distances after a while.

Are you willing to take this step?  Do you believe such simple steps can make big differences?

All I’m asking for is a little quiet time, a pen and some paper, and clear, uninterrupted thinking.

Best to you.


Steve Troutman


  1. Rich Noonan says:

    Well done..cut it in half next time and it will be even better…but nice job as usual. I am still fat.

    Your uncle

  2. Uncle Rich!

    Good to hear from you. And excellent advice. Points can be proven in fewer words and in doing so, I’ll maintain the attention of my readers. It’s something I have to work on.

    I might be coming down your way a couple of times this year. Once with Krista. I’ll keep you posted.


  3. Gen says:

    Very nice indeed 🙂

  4. […] going to get into a tangent about goal setting here because I spewed enough psycho-babble in my last post.  If you haven’t read it yet, it might be worth your […]

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