Are You Driving a Ferrari or Volvo? Metaphors and Scripts for Change

I’ve never been an athlete, sporty, or overly coordinated when it comes to fitness. Since I was a little tacker, I’d always wanted to learn martial arts. But kept chickening out of classes. About 5 years ago, I finally got the courage to try Krav Maga. It was bloody tough, but I loved it! I started training and learned a huge life lesson from it – we’re all capable of doing amazing things with our bodies that are so far beyond the internal limits we set. That experience sparked something inside of me. I’ve since become obsessed with learning new skills and building my mind and body up in every way I can. This sounds cliché, but I can honestly say that it turned my life around! I’m telling you this because there are a few key changes I made to go from the guy who lived in bars to being obsessed with health and fitness. These are simple, but profound strategies you can use in your own life to make massive changes quickly. So, let’s take a look.

I Changed My Metaphor

For most of my adult life, I viewed my body as a vehicle that got me from A to B. I didn’t think about how I maintained it, what fuel I put in, or what I could do with it. I was safely driving it around like a Volvo. As I progressed in martial arts and got into strength training, I started to achieve things that I thought were out of my reach. The light bulb finally came on. My body wasn’t a shitty Volvo! I’d been sitting in the driver’s seat of a Ferrari this whole time!

The metaphors we use for our bodies directly impact our health and fitness. You can’t make lasting changes without looking at your internal beliefs. And metaphors form powerful beliefs. As long as my body was just a vehicle, there was no reason to think about using it for anything more than transport. But when I shifted my metaphor to a Ferrari, everything changed. I was now driving a high-performance machine. Built for raw power, speed, responsiveness, and handling. It’d be a waste to not use it to its full potential.

Think about the metaphors you have for your body. Are they positive or negative? Is your body a gift? Is it art? Maybe it’s clay waiting to be shaped? Or you might have negative metaphors that hold you back. Is your body just a vehicle? Is it broken? Is it a shell? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not on about some 'think and you will become crap' here. This stuff might seem simple. But your perspective of your body directly impacts your health and fitness through internal scripts.

My Internal Scripts Shifted

Our metaphors shape our perception of our bodies and result in internal dialogue or scripts we live by. Let's take a look at a classic children's book that can help out here - Winnie the Pooh. Think about two characters from the book: Eeyore and Tigger. Eeyore is always glum, depressed, and pessimistic about everything. Tigger is the polar opposite. He’s full of energy, confidence, and all about having fun. We all know people who fit into one of these categories. Maybe you fit into one or both. So where am I going with this? Well, when I pissed away my days in bars and viewed the world as tough, I was living like Eeyore. I didn’t believe that I could learn martial arts, be healthy, or understand nutrition. My internal scripts were too negative to bring about positive change. They were ‘barriers’ I built in my own head. But, as I slowly learned one new thing after another, my confidence was built up. Suddenly I started to shift to Tigger’s perspective. I now believed that with consistent effort, I could achieve amazing things.

If you want to change your body, learn new skills, or just live a more fulfilling life, which script would be more helpful – Eeyore’s or Tigger’s? We all know which one wins out. Eeyore’s got Buckley’s and none of being happy unless he gets his shit together. We all know that, but changing your scripts takes work. We’ll look at some ideas for shifting internal scripts at the end of this post.

I Used Keystone Habits

I didn’t realise this until after the fact. But when I look back, I see that I stopped drinking and living a toxic life because of keystone habits. In Chris Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit he described keystone habits:

Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives. These are keystone habits, and they can influence how people work, eat, play, live, spend, and communicate. Keystone habits start a process that, over time, transforms everything.

Keystone habits can change your life quickly. My keystone habit was regular exercise with specific goals. To be able to learn martial arts and build muscle, I couldn’t be hungover. So I stopped drinking regularly. I also needed to eat well to fuel my training, so I learned about nutrition. This single shift (training with goals) caused rippling effects throughout my life. In a very short timeframe, I had completely changed how I lived.

Duhigg gives us another example of an amazing transformation in his book. Lisa Allen was 34 years old and had started drinking and smoking at 16. She had struggled with obesity all her life. She had never held down a job for more than 1 year and was in debt. After hitting rock bottom and going through a divorce, she makes the decision to quit smoking:

Over the next six months, she would replace smoking with jogging, and that, in turn, changed how she ate, worked, slept, saved money, scheduled her workdays, planned for the future, and so on. She would start running half-marathons, and then a marathon, go back to school, buy a house, and get engaged.

We see time and time again that keystone habits are forces that create significant change. So, let’s put this all together and see how you can apply these strategies in your life.

How to Change Your Metaphors and Scripts

I write to share my own experiences and knowledge with you. But my ultimate goal is to give you information that’ll help you eat, move, and live optimally. Get these right, and you’ll transform your body and change your life. So, I like to end each post with some actionable steps you can take immediately.

To get the most out of this post, complete the steps below before the opportunity passes. If you really can’t drop everything right now, write a reminder on a post-it note and stick it to your forehead for later. Decision creates action. Action creates results.

  1. Change your metaphor: take a few minutes right now to brainstorm all the metaphors you use when describing your body. Write them all down – ‘my body is this or that'. Identify any negative metaphors and replace them with positive ones that have meaning to you. You could use something like my Ferrari metaphor. Or, maybe you’re into art. So you liken your body to clay that you can shape any way you want. Just come up with something strong. When you catch yourself thinking about the negative metaphor, drop it and repeat the new positive one you came up with.
  2. Change your internal scripts: take another few minutes to brainstorm all of the negative scripts you tell yourself that are holding you back. Maybe your script is ‘I’ll always be overweight’. Maybe you tell yourself that being fit is out of your reach. It could be to do with confidence, etc.  Write down alternative POSITIVE scripts you can use to replace these. I’m not talking about wishing yourself into change. Just come up with some alternate scripts you can use. For example, if you’re overweight, you could develop a script like ‘I eat plenty of vegetables every day’. This will shift your focus from a negative limiting script to something that will push you to take action (i.e., eat your veggies!) and result in you being healthier.
  3. Find your keystone habits: finally, spend some time thinking about what your keystone habits are. If you want to lose weight, you might try something like getting back into an old sport or fitness activity that requires you to be in decent shape. Try a few of these out until something sticks, and other things start to shift. You’ll know when you’ve found a keystone habit. it'll result in rippling effects as you make major changes in your health and fitness.

Add a comment below and let me know if you’ve had success in the past with these strategies, or how you’re going to use them.

Finally, if you want help in putting all of this into a completely customised body transformation program, you can book a free consultation with me here.

P.S. If you liked this blog post, I’d owe you one if you could get it out there by emailing it to a friend or sharing it on social media. You might also be interested in my free e-book: The Battle Tested Body Transformation Guide.