Last week, I watched an amazing documentary about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner.
Aside from the inspiration of Bruce staying true to his authentic self by choosing to become Caitlyn, I realized that how he trained for his astounding gold-medal win at the 1976 Olympics can be a blueprint for successful weight loss.
[In this post, I’m using the name Bruce rather than Caitlyn, since that’s who he was during this period.]
Bruce was a nobody in the 1972 Olympics. According to him, he didn’t even know how he’d made the team.
He didn’t perform that well and didn’t feel very inspired about his decathlon career.
Until, that is, he stuck around for the medal ceremony.
As he watched a Russian decathlete have the gold medal placed around his neck, something inside him lit up. He said to himself, “I want that.”
And he decided right then and there that he’d devote the next four years of his life training to get the gold himself.
There are ten events in the decathlon (obviously), so there were ten areas that he had to master.
He created a training schedule for each and every event, broken down into the smallest component pieces: the launch off the starting block in the 400-meter race, the hand grip for the javelin throw, and the placement of the pole in the pole vault.
Some events were easier for him. He definitely didn’t excel in all of them.
Even though there were days where he felt like he wasn’t making progress, he kept going. For four straight years.
He eventually mastered every event enough to qualify for the 1976 Games.
And he won. He beat the Russian athlete he’d seen at the top of the podium four years before.
But not only did he get his gold medal, he became someone new. He became known as the World’s Greatest Athlete.
What This Has to do With Losing Weight
Here’s what occurred to me as I was watching his story. Being unsuccessful at losing weight is the result of several things.
First of all, after so many failures, we feel demoralized. Like we don’t have what it takes to stick with it and like nothing will ever change.
We try to go all or nothing. We set huge goals and end up failing and giving up altogether.
We’re in it for the short term, not the long term. And we have no plan or schedule, nothing concrete to go by.
Finally, we fail to recognize that there’s real progress going on underneath the surface – that change is happening, even if we can’t see it.
Bruce Jenner won the gold medal because he didn’t fall prey to any of this.
He decided he was going to win. And that decision allowed him to commit fully – even though he was a relative nobody and at that time would have been a complete underdog to win.
He created a four-year training schedule, right down to the last detail. And he stuck to it, even on the days where he felt like he was making no progress.
At the same time, he knew that he was making progress . . . even if it was a half-a-millimeter gain on his long jump. This reframing motivated him to keep going.
Think of your past attempts at weight loss. Isn’t it highly possible that it wasn’t you that failed, it was your approach that did?
I’m certain of it.
Bruce’s Blueprint for Weight Loss
Let’s apply what Bruce did during his Olympic training to your goal of losing weight and drastically increase your chances of being successful:
Commit fully. A half-hearted commitment results in half-hearted effort. It’s easy to feel like “What’s the point” if you’ve failed so many times (I get it!), but trust that a full-on, all-in decision will be the fuel that propels you over the finish line.
Don’t be afraid to commit because you’re not sure it will happen. Once you do commit, something important does happen: the decision changes you.
Committing means you’re someone who has what it takes to succeed – which means that you will.
To motivate yourself to go all-in, choose your own gold-medal reward: a beach vacation, a new designer bag, a full day of spa treatments.
After all, Bruce wasn’t just going for a notch on the high jump – he wanted that medal.
Break up your goal into smaller pieces and create a long-term schedule. Just like Bruce had to master ten events, there are multiple components of losing weight.
Choose 5 to 7 areas to work on: eating more fruit and vegetables, eating less sodium, eating less refined sugar, staying hydrated, getting your kitchen organized, exercising consistently, exercising at the right intensity, building muscle, stretching, cooking more often, journaling, doing more self-care – just to name a few.
Set a long-term deadline, whatever timeframe works best for you. Instead of trying to lose 10 pounds in 30 days, create a schedule for making micro-improvements in every one of your chosen areas for at least 60 days.
Small wins are easier to achieve and keep you motivated. And when you’re “failing” in one area, having another one to focus on (like Bruce did) keeps you feeling successful.
And this is important: Write it down! You drastically increase the possibility of achieving your goal by writing it down. Put every step in your calendar or journal.
And PS: If you miss a deadline . . . just change it!
Remember that progress is sometimes invisible. It’s hard to persevere when you feel like nothing’s changing. But the key to real changes – the ones that last – is being patient, consistent, and persistent.
It’s not the 5-mile runs or the week-long juice fasts or slashing a thousand calories off your daily intake. It’s showing up, day after day, with a willingness to stick with it. It’s the seemingly insignificant choices you make.
Like getting on the treadmill when you don’t feel like it. Putting your fork down with only one bite of food left. Ordering a side salad instead of fries. These small actions add up – big time.
Plus developing perseverance is way more important to your success than any carbs you manage to avoid. (And please don’t freak out about them either).
Remember that consistent effort over time is what gets you results. Drastic actions that you can’t sustain are what bring failure.
Resolve that you’ll stick with your plan and that you’ll persevere – even when visible results aren’t evident.
I’ve read that the roots of a bamboo plant take months to grow enough for the first shoot to emerge – and then it blasts out of the ground 6 feet in the air within a few days.
Do What It Takes and Never Give Up
Bruce Jenner decided he wanted a gold medal, and he devoted the next four years of his life to doing whatever it took to achieve his goal.
He never gave up, even though some of the decathlon events weren’t his strongest. He knew that he could win the medal with excellence at several and above-average proficiency at the rest. He knew that his goal could be achieved without being perfect at everything.
He was meticulous and planned the whole thing out. And he got up every day and showed up and did the work.
He was consistent and he was persistent. He was in it for the long game – and he succeeded.
But the most inspiring thing of all about his story is that he became a totally different person throughout his journey.
He started as an unknown and became not just an Olympic gold medalist, but a national hero.
Who Are You Capable of Becoming?
By following your own blueprint, you won’t just lose weight – you’ll become a different person.
You’ll develop persistence and perseverance and will become mentally stronger. You’ll accumulate small wins through hard work and will become more confident. And by refusing to give up – especially when you feel like it – you’ll become unstoppable.
Now, I want you to leave a comment and let me know:
What’s one area you’ll put on your list? And what’s one small step you could take today to start changing it?
Just like Bruce surprised himself by becoming the World’s Greatest Athlete, there’s no telling who you’re capable of becoming.
I do know this: You were put here on this earth to become something more powerful than just a woman who weighs less.
After all, living a vibrant, exciting, and totally fulfilling life doesn’t come from changing your body.
It comes from changing who you believe yourself to be – and then becoming her.
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