“I'm not a runner.”
I can't remember how many times I've said that over the years. When someone would ask, do you run? I'd say, "Oh not me, I'm not a runner."
Four days before Christmas 2012, when I found myself in the hospital being worked up for what we believed was a heart attack, I knew something needed to change.
My amazing mentor and coach Christine Kane is constantly saying, "Consistent actions bring consistent results."
I knew if I wanted to get fit and improve my heart health, I had to find a way to consistently move my body
When I began looking for an exercise I could do consistently, I remembered hearing something about a program that could help you learn to run. A quick Google search pulled up “Couch to 5K.” This app is designed to get even the most sedentary person moving. It’s a graduated program that will have you running 30 consecutive minutes (3.1 miles) in just 9 weeks.
Alternating between walking and running small distances, you gradually build your stamina (and confidence) over time. With just three work-outs per week it made it easier to incorporate into my busy schedule.
So, I downloaded the app and threw caution to the wind. What did I have to lose?
Just 9 weeks later, when I ran my first 5K, it was such an incredible high to cross the finish line. And to my surprise, my first thought was not, "What was my time? Where did I place?"
In that moment, I experienced a feeling of pure joy as I thought, "I just ran a 5K. I am a runner!"
I had shifted the paradigm and broken through the ceiling on a long held limiting belief. It made me wonder what other things I may be saying to myself that hold me back.
What else have I thought was impossible that is really possible? I set an intention to become more aware of times when I hear myself make limiting statements.
Here are three steps I've found helpful for breaking through limiting beliefs:
1. Question the belief. When you notice a limiting thought, ask the question, "Is that true?" Reflect back over your life and scan for evidence that refutes the belief. In my case, I remembered being one of the fastest kids in my neighborhood running to get home before the street lamps came on (for fear of greeting my dad at the door after curfew). In junior high, I convinced myself I wasn't a runner when I didn't perform well in cross-country. A simple reframe here is helpful: “I am a sprinter” instead of “I am not a (distance) runner.”
2. Imagine a different possibility. We are often unaware of how much we identify with our thoughts. Pay attention to the words you choose to follow the statement "I am." Are they empowering words (I am resourceful) or do they deflate you (I am broke)? Picture who you could become if that limiting thought wasn't true. What may be possible then?
3. Break it down. It can seem overwhelming to take on a large project like running a 5K, losing weight, or getting out of debt. Breaking the larger project down into smaller pieces helps shift your thoughts from "likely impossible" to "totally doable!” In week 1 of Couch to 5K, I thought, “Okay, I can run for 60 seconds. Then I can run for 90 seconds. And sure, now I think I can run for 3 minutes.” As I took each step forward it established a new normal. And, what became possible from that new set point shifted.
The secret to all of this is growing an inner awareness of how your thoughts create your reality. Noticing when your thoughts limit your success is key in disarming the threats that generally lead to self-sabotage.
Now I am a runner, and I've released 14 lbs. in the process. And if you're wondering what limiting belief I'll tackle next, it's this: Disproving the belief that I can't be a successful businesswoman. I've already taken several steps forward after putting the above steps in action.
I've found that many of my limiting beliefs are shared by others. Recognizing this simple truth is empowering, as you realize you're not alone.
What limiting belief will you take on today?
Leave a comment below and let me know. Let's shatter some ceilings!
Uplifting Women in Medicine