152. Business Leader Tara McMullin on The Person She Became Through Her Fitness Habit

152. Tara McMullin on the Person She Became Through Her Fitness Habit

Highlights of Episode 152

  • The real reason behind Tara McMullin’s decision to start a new fitness habit
  • How Tara was able to maintain her motivation and stick to her fitness habits
  • What Tara was tracking at the beginning of her journey to track her progress
  • How and when she realized she had become a different person
  • Tara’s fitness routine now

Tara McMullin is a business leader. She is the founder of the What Works community and the host of the What Works podcast. I’ve had her on the show before talking about leadership, resilience, and other business-type topics.

But Tara has had a remarkable and quite obvious physical transformation in the last few years.

I remember when a few years back, she started talking about getting into a new daily running routine — this from someone who used to say that she wasn’t into running at all. She started talking about hiking. Then, she started sharing videos of her climbing and doing weights. And she started showing up on Instagram – where I follow her – in very athletic outfits doing very athletic things.

And the most fantastic thing about it — and why I’m so interested in her story — is that she has kept at it.

She is today a different person than the one I first met in 2015. And I’m not just talking about her physical appearance. Something about her and the way that she shows up has changed. And I wanted to get to the bottom of it and understand it all.

It was as if the physical changes brought about other changes as well. Or was it the other way around? And as it turned out, it was both-and.

Tara’s reimagining of herself was beyond her physical fitness. In fact, it was never her sole motivation.

In this episode, we talked about the genesis of her fitness habit and physical transformation, how she maintained motivation and stick to her new habits, and when she figured out she had become a different person. We also talked about what her fitness routine looks like now in the time of the pandemic and social distancing.

Links From the Episode:

Follow Tara McMullin on Instagram
Listen to the What Works podcast
Call Your Girlfriend (podcast)
Hurry Slowly (podcast) – the episode with Sebene Selassie
You Belong: A Call for Connection by Sebene Selassie
Subscribe to Briefing Notes
Follow Second Breaks on Instagram
Connect with Lou Blaser on LinkedIn

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

I started to think, all right, if I want to make a change in my business, if I want to make a change in the way I show up, that’s going to require me to sort of go through a process of untangling all of these limiting beliefs that I have about myself, all of these habits that are not serving me. And the easiest one I can think of to start with is not being so much of a couch potato. I have the physical ability and I have the mental ability and I have the will to make this change. I can start really simply by setting an alarm in the morning. I can get up and I can move my body. First thing before I have coffee before I eat breakfast and I can start to prioritize moving my body during the day as well. So I can take a little break from work and take a 20-minute walk. that’s how it got started. It literally got started with me, setting an alarm and deciding to spend 15 minutes walking on the treadmill.

It very much was a process of habit change and recognizing that I had a habit of showing up in ways that I didn’t want to show up in and showing up in ways that were not setting me up for success that were leading to the outcomes that I claimed that I wanted. And so I needed to start breaking those habits and start creating new habits.

I didn’t do it to lose weight. I didn’t do it because I had some dream of running races or really doing anything. I did it to create a habit that would go on to help me create other habits that would allow me to show up the way I wanted to show up in my business. So it was very much driven by my professional aspirations and my business aspirations.

When I made those decisions, I was coming at it from a place of ‘This isn’t who you are. These are things that you are doing, and these are things that you are choosing and you can make different choices and you can do different things.’

I made a decision to become the kind of person who is disciplined, who makes good choices, who shows up, as a leader for herself and for others. And this was part of that decision, as opposed to just a new year’s resolution.

I was tracking the habit. I wasn’t after an end result. I was legitimately exploring the experience of what it feels like to do something every day. And in exploring that realizing just how good I felt when I was doing that thing every day.

Lately, I’ve been talking about commitments as being a reminder to choose differently than we normally would. And so, that’s another thing that I’m sort of always tracking now is like, How would the old me have behaved in this situation. Using my commitments, using my intentions, how is the new me going to choose differently today? And so that’s what this whole process has been. It’s been about how I can choose differently. And what is that going to do for me? How’s that going to feel? What is the experience going to be like?

And so then, I could see it over and over again, where there would be sort of this knee-jerk reaction to something happening in business, in life, in my relationship. Where my old self would assert itself as in, ‘Hey, wait, don’t you do this instead of this other thing that you’re doing?’ And I would have to literally say to myself or to Sean, that is not who I am anymore. I am this kind of person. And it took noticing it and naming it over and over again to fully inhabit that transformation. Now looking back on it, I don’t even know who that person was before. I mean, I do but it seems so foreign to me now. I am so fully inhabited in a new way of being, a new way of showing up, and a new way of doing.

It’s very important to me now to honor and embrace the fact that we are human beings who not only have depth but also change. Because that’s the other piece too. That one-dimensional version of who I was portraying couldn’t change. And change has always been important to me. I love change. I love learning new things so I can have different opinions. And so part of that was just actually owning that I had changed too. It was owning the depth. It was owning the multi-dimensionality and it was owning the fact that I’m a person who changes. I’m a human being who changes and you can too.

There’s what the pose looks like in a million different bodies with a million different shapes and a million different levels of our ranges of motion and strength and all of that. And we’re all going to perform that pose differently depending on our body. And it’s the same thing in business. We all have different businesses. We all have different schedules. We all have different capacities. And so what might be how you do this particular thing in your business, that’s not going to look the same in every business. In fact, it should look different in every business.

This experience taught me that I could choose differently. That I am not subject to how I have always done things or who I have always thought myself to be. And that if I want to be someone different or I want to do something different, gosh, darn it, I can do it. And all I need to do is choose differently.

Honest to God, one of the things that I remind myself all the time — and something I take so much pride in — is simply I’m strong. I am strong physically. I am strong mentally. I am strong in so many ways. And it is a real point of pride for me at this point and it is part of my identity. Yeah, I am strong.

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