What do you and Naomi Watts have in common?
When I interviewed Martina Navratilova and five-time Olympian Anne Kursinski, they attributed their record-breaking achievements to an essential practice: visualizing success. It’s a powerful tool that has been used by athletes for years and according to a new study, it is also the key to weight loss.
That’s right…if you imagine losing pounds and regularly use all your senses to experience a thinner you, it will happen! Seriously, this is not about depriving your body of necessary food or joining the latest fitness craze. It’s not a diet, it’s a mindset shift.
The technique is called functional imagery training, or FIT and it combines motivational interviewing with vivid imagery practices to tap into inspiration and imagination. Researchers at the University of Plymouth designed and evaluated FIT for weight loss and discovered that not only did it work, but it proved to be the most effective weight loss study ever conducted. The only program to come close was Weight Watchers where results were shorter lived. In the Plymouth study, the average person lost 10 pounds in 6 months and continued to lose weight and get in better shape months even after the intervention.
I am honored to announce being the first independent contractor in the world certified in FIT for weight loss. FIT’s principals align with how I practice in four fundamental ways:
1. Begin with assessing your motivation to change
2. Imagine your future self
3. Determine the best course of action
4. Stay positive
“FIT shows that mental imagery is more strongly emotionally charged than other types of thought. It uses imagery to strengthen people’s motivation and confidence to achieve their goals and teaches people how to do this for themselves, so they can stay motivated even when faced with challenges. This is all based on two decades of research,” wrote Jackie Andrade, University of Plymouth psychology professor and FIT co-founder.
FIT can be utilized for behavioral changes from sports performance to addiction. If you have a behavior that you want to positively impact, this may be just the solution to tap into your desire.
This spring I moved back to Miami fulltime and began rowing again. My physical therapist, Sinead FitzGibbon, an Irish healer, inspired me. After a bone-shattering fall, Sinead told me to give up riding horses for rowing boats. Uncharacteristically, I listened. Perhaps it was her charming Irish brogue.
I had not rowed for years, not since my freshman year at Syracuse. I easily found my sea-legs, the rhythm came back to me like riding a bicycle. Feathering the oars and driving them through the water with the force of my legs and seat was stored in my muscle memory.
Reconnecting with the sport came at a time when I badly needed it. I was lonely and displaced following my divorce and subsequent move.
When I row, my busy mind quiets. I tune into my senses with the sound of the oars, a flash of white water from a jumping fish, the smell of the sea, the salt on my skin. In the narrow boat built for four, my teammates and I mirror one another’s movements; we pull our weight and encourage each other with words of support. An incredible feeling of grace and power comes with the rare flawless stroke.
It is a commitment. We rise early before the sun to get to the boathouse on Indian Creek. We launch in the dark, lock our oars in place, climb in in unison and shove off. We row past dimly lit houses, people sleeping within. Occasionally, we bump into bobbing coconuts, moorings and even dead iguanas. As the sun comes up over Miami Beach, we cruise silently along.
The lights of the cars in the distance remind us that we are removed from the busy hard-surfaced world. When we return, we carry the 34' boat to its slings, gather our oars and wash everything down. All is put back in place in the boathouse. By 7:15 am, we are in our cars headed to work or home with a sense of strength, accomplishment and teamwork. We experience all of this before most people have had their first cup of coffee.
Why Wake Early to Row
It’s a full body workout that strengthens your core.
“Being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do,” Wallace J Nichols, author of Blue Mind.
It improves interpersonal communication, including the ability to accept feedback.
A rare sense of interconnectedness that shifts your perspective from “going it alone,” to being an essential member of a team.
Partners around the world. Master’s rowing clubs welcome visiting rowers and new comers.
Just about zero impact on the environment.
Martina Navratilova's 6 mental fitness tools for women who doubt themselves
I had the privilege of sitting down with Martina recently to talk about women and confidence. I shared with her the stories of self-doubt that I have heard from capable and talented women and asked if she has come across the same struggles. Martina said that she had seen it in others, but she never let being a woman hold her back.