My mother was an English major and a damn good writer. She taught me to edit. And edit. And edit. She showed me that I could always do better.

About half the red ink that usually ended up on a school paper for me… On draft #3.

About half the red ink that usually ended up on a school paper for me… On draft #3.

She often told me of a professor she had who told his class to murder their darlings.

Yup! Murder ‘em!

When writing, you’ll often write something you absolutely love. Maybe you write a phrase that sounds perfect to you or you create a character that you adore. Maybe you imagine the perspective you offer is immaculate.

Those words are your darlings.

And in many cases you’re dead wrong about them. Often that what you thought was great is actually really crummy or it just doesn’t fit with the piece. A good editor will tell you when this happens.

To achieve the best possible piece of writing, you have to murder your darlings. 

This applies to so many things. If you want to achieve anything truly great, you have to separate yourself from your wanton desires and figure out what your true purpose is.

What’s This Got to Do With Fitness?

In fitness, this happens all the time.

For example, we have many habits that create our identity. Some are good, some are bad. 

Good habits might be:

  • Brushing your teeth every day

  • Calling a friend once a week

  • Showing up to work on time

And not-so-good habits might be:

  • Eating take-out every day

  • Drinking a bottle of wine 2 or 3 nights a week

  • Not sleeping enough

5 of these a night is totally fine and normal, right? … Right?!

5 of these a night is totally fine and normal, right? … Right?!

Whether we like it or not, these habits form our identity. We relate to them. We tell others about them. We make self-deprecating jokes about them.

Good or bad, they are ours and we hold them dear.

But if we want to change our bodies, we have to go to work on our habits. And if we change our habits, we eventually change our identity. We reinvent ourselves.

And that comes with a lot of resistance. It’s not easy to reinvent yourself half-way through your life.

There’s no way around it, though. You’ll have to murder your darlings.

You don’t have to rid yourself of everything you enjoy but you’ll damn well have to make some sacrifices.

"Yeah, Pick on The Fat Guy!"

Fat loss expert, Josh Hillis tells a great story about this identity crisis in his book, Fat Loss Happens on Monday.

Josh had an overweight client who constantly made self-deprecating jokes about being over weight. “Sure, pick on the fat guy,” he’d often say.

As they trained together, Josh kept telling him “keep training like you are and soon you’ll need new jokes.”

And, once he lost the weight, he lost that identity and needed a new one; a new way to express his sense of humour. It took him a bit of time but he came up with an idea one day...

“Sure, pick on the bald guy!”

Change Your Mind And Your Body Will Follow

Changing your mindset about who you are makes a huge difference in what you do and what you achieve.

What are your darlings? What habits do you love that get in the way of your goals? How can you “murder” them? And who will you be once they’re gone?

Does the person you want to become do all the things you do now? Or do they have different habits? How can you be a little bit more like that person today?