by PJ Beaven
I could get super annoyed at a book which feels like reading my exact idea for Zookeeper’s Guide to Fitness. I could. But I’m not. And the only reason I would get annoyed is this person self-published her book. She could have gone all the way and gotten it traditionally published. She’s writing MY book.
Well, not my book exactly. Mine’s better.
Sorry, it’s true. There’s only one reason it’s better though. I am including animal stories and animal training anecdotes to demonstrate my program philosophies and principles.
But Here Today, Gone Tomorrow is everything I have written in the first section of Zookeeper’s Guide to Fitness. Everything.
I went over a couple ideas from the first two chapters in my last post. Now, I have finished and every chapter discussed exact ideas I am currently writing about in my book.
It isn’t surprising, honestly. Erin Bagwell is a therapist and counselor. She studied psychology. This may surprise some of you, but as an animal trainer, so did I. Animal behavior is heavily rooted in the study of psychology. I haven’t really figured out how to write about that in a fun cool way, but it’s important to share with readers. Animal trainers are scientists. They are practicing the science of psychology.
Erin Bagwell shares her insights of helping others achieve their goals successfully by interweaving principles of psychology through operant conditioning, consequences, positive thinking, and shaping.
In chapter 4, Erin discusses how to set realistic goals, identifying triggers and potential obstacles, and writing out an action plan. Which is what every animal trainer does when they decide to train a new behavior.
My desired outcome for this year is to get back in shape. I’ve broken that big ambition into four smaller resolutions, so to speak. Get my eating habits back on track, improve my metabolic conditioning and cardio, take care of my health (specifically my knees, other things that wear out, and my wellness), and practice my own fully developed program.
I don’t have an exact action plan for my goals. I need to work on that. I do plan on starting Whole30 and have the two months I’ll be practicing Whole30 mapped out.
I am helping CrossFit with another Best Self/New You Challenge. This is a six-week fitness program with three workouts a week in a group. I will be helping out but I am going to fully participate in the program as well. I don’t know exactly how that’s going to work, but I want the support of a group effort and accountability the challenge provides for the first six weeks early in the year.
I’m starting physical therapy for my knees on January 30. Ironically, as soon as that was set up, my shoulder got jacked up. I’m going to work on that too. I am also going to make a dentist appointment to take care of my teeth as well as my body. Health isn’t just exercise and nutrition.
After developing sound action plans with specific goals, Erin began melding with my head in chapter 5 “Beware of Negativity”. What struck me the most was her comparison of negativity and pessimism to invasive species, like kudzu. Okay, I’m a Southern girl and I know what kudzu is. Kudzu is an ivy-like plant brought to the US from I think Japan. It was brought over to be a ground cover as it grows very quickly. Like, a foot a day. But kudzu took to the warm climate a little too well and began to overtake everything. It’s a lot like Himalayan blackberries. You know the blackberries that will take over and close you in your own house if you don’t keep it in check? Yeah, kudzu is like that.
But Erin is spot on about that. If we let negative thoughts into our head, it takes over and consumes our thoughts. Negativity is an invasive species and we must do everything we can to protect our healthy environment we are creating. Eradicate all negative thoughts.
I’ve heard the idea of Law of Attraction before. It gets a little hocus-pocusy to me, but I agree to a certain extent. Law of Attraction basically states positive thinking will bring what you desire to your life. It literally means if you want to “be thin” you have to say “I am thin” all the time and you’ll get thin. I don’t completely buy that but I understand the importance and incredible power of positive thinking. If you keep thinking you will achieve your goal, you will develop a can-do attitude which will help you achieve your goal.
Just as you need to practice developing new habits for your health and well-being, so do you need to practice being positive. Ironically, being positive feels so much better than being negative, but we are a very negative society. We tend to focus on negative things rather than positive changes. Erin encourages us to practice positive thinking in ALL areas of our life, not just fitness. When we are out with friends, try to focus your conversation on how you are achieving your goals, not how you haven’t met them. Talk to your spouse or family about the great things that happened during the day, not the negative. The more you practice, the better you will get at focusing on the positive and having a positive mindset.
And finally, Erin showed us how to set up a reward system for ourselves. I mean, C’mon! How much more like my book could she get? Oh, right, if she had included great animal stories. But again, I agree with her 100%. Well, technically, she is talking about reinforcement and not exactly rewards, but I get her gist. And the only reason I know the difference is because I studied it myself. So, she uses the term reward. I utilize the term reinforcement in my book.
You must set up a reward system specifically designed for you. Not what other people would find rewarding. Rewarding yourself for achieving your goals, or progression of your goal sets off the reward center in your brain which then craves that behavior in order to get that feeling again. We must reward ourselves appropriately. Yes, we release dopamine when we eat candy or sweets, but we also release it when we allow ourselves to take a nap, or get a pedicure, or buy a new outfit.
Erin and I both have the same idea of giving yourself stickers or points which you can redeem for a bigger reward. Earn enough to allow yourself a massage, or a nice dinner out with your loved ones. See, ZooFit is practiced all over the country, we just don’t realize it yet!
One last bit of advice from Here Today, Gone Tomorrow is to track your progress. It doesn’t matter how you do it, be it a checklist, a daily planner, or private personal journal, but it’s important to keep track. When you have a bad day or feel discouraged, you can look at your progress and see how far you’ve come. Let it be a source of encouragement for moments you don’t feel you have gotten any better.
I know we can have a great year fulfilling all our hopes and dreams. Let ZooFit be your guide and have the most productive and successful year ever. Be the best version of yourself. And show the world your true colors.