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The inner and outer of it all

Our external environments are reflective of our internal environments.

This is the concept I want to discuss today, because it’s one that I feel is very important to health, although not always in an obvious way. It’s one I’ve been using for a long time with my clients- and has been especially effective with weight loss cases.

Basically, what this concept is saying is that we all have certain characteristics and tendencies that help to make up who we are and we tend to manifest patterns in our external environment (our homes, our work, our relationships and anything we see as being “outside” of ourselves) that mirror these characteristics.

When we work on the “internal,” the “external” naturally changes. But sometimes, the best approach is to work from the other direction.

Here’s an example.

About six years ago I was working with a client who wanted to lose a significant amount of weight but had a really hard time doing anything I suggested. Exercising with me wasn’t a problem- but getting her to do cardio was. On top of this, I was constantly altering her nutrition program to try to make her transitions easier and more practical, but nothing worked. She seemed like she really wanted to make the changes but everything felt like an uphill battle for her.

Eventually I decided to try another approach. I started to ask her all kinds of questions about her personal life, things that seemed to have nothing to do with weight loss. I asked her about the color of her clothes, about what she thought about when she woke up, what kind of music she liked and so on.

What I eventually found out was that she was a pack rat. It was a security blanket for her and she had a very hard time getting rid of things- even things that weren’t used for over a decade. While discussing this issue we decided that- on a specific day, she would clean out her house of everything she had not used for over a year. (That was actually my last session with her but I saw her two weeks later.)

She had lost over 10 pounds and said she could feel an immediate shift taking place when she started the project, like a huge weight was being lifted off her. I was happy that she found an approach that worked for her and I could tell that she didn’t need me anymore.

The point I want to make with this post is that if you’re trying to reach a goal and you’re really struggling over and over again to get over some hurdle, try looking at ALL the areas of your life, both inwardly and outwardly. See if there’s anything that reflects the problem. Sometimes the best approach is a subtle one that gives you a different perspective and from that vantage point the hurdle doesn’t seem so high.

Author’s note: Don’t get me wrong- I’m not trying to imply that all overweight people are pack rats – they’re not. I had another client recently who didn’t store anything at all, but she was excessively clean and would wash her dishtowels twice a day. She didn’t want to sweat when we worked out because it was disgusting and unclean. This is an entirely different set of conditions but the principle is still the same.

David M. Zappasodi holds a BS in Exercise Physiology, is a N.A.S.M. Certified Personal Trainer, and is a Certified Metabolic Typing Practitioner. His interests include Ju Jitsu, yoga, basketball, swimming and surfing.