We are different people with different emotions and approaches, which makes life much more interesting. Alicia Dunams and Darcy Luoma, the author of Thoughtfully Fit, explore the framework that Darcy created so we can train our minds to be thoughtfully fit. They delve into setting boundaries and putting needs and desires first without being selfish. They talk about life lessons and coaching philosophies that would move us to the core and elaborated on how we could handle life to practice endurance in a unique and balanced way. Darcy also shares personal experiences, concrete strategies we could execute, and tools we could utilize to overcome obstacles.
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Thoughtfully Fit With Darcy Luoma
Let us discover perspective, possibility, and purpose from the pages of real life with the noteworthy author, Darcy Luoma.
Darcy Luoma is the author of Thoughtfully Fit. She is a Master Certified Coach, dynamic facilitator, and inspiring motivational speaker. She has worked as director for a US Senator, deputy transition director for a governor, and on the national advance team for two presidential campaigns. As the owner and CEO of Darcy Luoma Coaching and Consulting, she has worked in 48 industries with more than 500 organizations to create high-performing people and teams. The media has named Darcy the region’s favorite executive-and-life coach four times. Darcy balances her thriving business with raising her two energetic teenage daughters, adventure travel, and competing in triathlons. Darcy, it is so great to be here.
Notice your response and patterns in your life, and then focus on what matters most to have more structure in your life. Click To Tweet
Thank you, Alicia. It is truly a pleasure to be with you.
I have done a couple of triathlons in my life. I have run a couple of marathons. We get to talk about that as well. To do something like that shows your discipline in terms of being able to coach presidential campaigns and politicians, and that rigor and discipline that is so needed even to write a book. I am excited to have you here. You have so much to teach us. With that, I like to start with the first question. Darcy, why did you write a book?
For me, I have been coaching for many years. I started to notice that all of my clients, whether they were executive C-Suite, manager, or frontline employee, all have these similar problems that they were bringing to coaching. I spent several years researching and categorizing what their obstacles were because of different details and players but similar challenges. I created this model that highlights the six top obstacles that every client encounter and became Thoughtfully Fit, which is a metaphor for being physically fit. If you want to overcome these obstacles, you can train and practice. I knew that concept resonated so much with the teams, organizations, and individuals I was working with that I wanted to have a broader audience and put that out there in a bigger way in a book.
Those are six obstacles you found between all of the people that you have coached. I firmly believe everyone has some gap in their life from where they are to where they want to be. There is usually an obstacle. It is like, “Is it a broken bridge that I try to call over? Is there a chasm in the way?” I want to know from you. Share with us some of these obstacles and tools that you support people in using to overcome these obstacles.
The obstacles we found are there are three internal hurdles where we get in our way, and then there are three externals where there are challenges in relationships with others. I will give you a sample on the internal. “There is so much to do. I can’t even think.” That aligns with the Thoughtfully Fit practice of stillness, which is being able to quiet the mind. We over-schedule ourselves. A lot of the clients I work with don’t have boundaries or an ability to say no because, “I feel bad. They will be upset with me.” The result is too much to do, which impacts your ability to be strategic, creative, innovative, healthy, or have balance.
The second internal obstacle there is, “I don’t always handle myself the way I would like.” You get home from a crazy day. Instead of coming into the kitchen, smiling, and giving me a hug, you tripped over the shoes and you were like, “I told you to put those away.” You can feel it escalate. You are not handling yourself how you would like. That is strength, which is being able to consciously choose how you show up in any situation. The third internal obstacle is, “I feel stuck.” Clients come in. They are stuck in a job they don’t love or in a relationship that doesn’t feel fulfilling. That is the practice of endurance, which is about being able to overcome obstacles and embrace a growth mindset to get unstuck. I wasn’t going to go through all six, but here I am. Do you want me to go through the external?
Everyone gets to buy the book on Amazon.com. I invite everyone to do that. I love where you started. Let us talk about internal. I love the title, Thoughtfully Fit. Mindfulness, being an opportunity for people to overcome. I have been coaching and doing leadership training around mindfulness. I have this concept that I use when I particularly train or facilitate leadership, which is called The Slippery Slope vs. The Conscious Climb. I truly believe that we get to choose to be on this conscious climb. Otherwise, we are living life on a slippery slope. I teach this framework, particularly when I am teaching unconscious bias, which I love to teach as a leadership tool, is to be aware of your unconscious bias and be able to overcome it. What I would love to hear from you is, what are some of the mindfulness tools you teach your clients and within this book?
I love your message and what you put out there. You are doing so much good in the world. There is a lot of alignment, which is why I love it. There is not a lot of different concepts out there. It is how you package and share it. With Thoughtfully Fit, your mind is a muscle. You have trained for marathons and triathlons. You know that you are not going to wake up tomorrow and do a race if you haven’t been training or, at least, you are not going to do it and have any level of success without getting injured or being miserable. In the same way, you can train your mind to be thoughtful in any interaction.
One of the concepts of how we train that mindfulness at the core of the model is to pause, think, and act. Those three steps, wash, rinse, repeat, will give you a very concrete tool to be able to handle yourself when there is a hurdle. When you are blindsided, you get a negative, angry email. You start pounding out a response and hit Reply All. Now, you went from having a problem to escalating it. You threw fire on that. You got more people-problems because you got to clean up the mess from not handling yourself thoughtfully at that moment. If you can pause at that moment, read the email, and then think, that is where you ask yourself some thoughtful questions so that you can create new awareness and then choose to act consciously instead of being on autopilot and having that knee-jerk impulsive reaction.
The very act of pausing, what I teach when I am training leadership, is pausing allows your brain to move from the critter brain, the amygdala, into the executive functions of your brain. It is like a bridge. We talked about that chasm before. “A pause is a bridge. Am I responding in critter brain, or am I responding from the executive functions, the prefrontal cortex of my brain?” The pause is being slow to judge, react, and act. Everyone gets to have a lesson in slowing down. I call it the pregnant pause because it is not a pause. It is like a nine-month pause.
That allows you to then be more mindful in that interaction. I love that critter brain. We talked about it because everything is this metaphor for being physically fit. If you go to a football game or a professional basketball game, you hear the other fans, their coaches, and the other team talking trash. You got this trash talk like, “You are going down. We got you.” We have our inner trash talk. It is those thoughts that can sabotage us. Something happens, and you have a thought, “How rude. What an idiot.” Whatever that first thought is.
When you can pause and think, it slows it down to say, “Is this thought sabotaging or serving me?” That way, you don’t respond to what you are saying your critter brain because the thought is sabotaging you. When you are thoughtfully fit, it doesn’t have to lead to a sabotaging action. It is natural for us to have this trash talk. It is not that you would have to be positive all the time. It is noticing and recognizing what your thoughts are before you act on them.
The noticing, I call it #JustNotice. Notice what is going on, your response, patterns in your life, and what triggers you. Look at it as art. Be curious, like when you are at the art gallery. We look at it and put it on the wall as art. When my mom said that, it triggered me. “Let me put that up on the wall. Let me notice that. Let me get curious.” It slows you down. When you go into an art museum, you are usually not rushing around to each painting. You are slowly observing each one. You are noticing and you are curious. You see the fine details. I call that exercise putting the art on the wall. That makes our life art or even our reactions.
We might have said something that we wish we didn’t say. Even with the other person, you can say, “Let us put this art on the wall.” You know that you put your foot in your mouth. You did something that might have caused some harm. It becomes a third party versus being back and forth against the person. It becomes something that you look at and observe. I love what you say now, and then you said the sabotage versus what serves us versus us. Are you going to sabotage yourself? Are these thoughts sabotaging or serving? What are some other tools that you use in Thoughtfully Fit?
The practice of endurance is about overcoming obstacles and embracing a growth mindset to get unstuck. Click To Tweet
There are the internal practices and then the external practices if you look at some of those tools. One of the hurdles and themes is, “I have relationships that don’t work.” People come into coaching. They might be over-functioning, and someone else is under-functioning, and they are getting resentful. It creates this win-lose. One of the tools we talked about is, “How do you create balanced conversations and relationships, where you balance what you want and need with what the other person wants and needs?” You can achieve alignment and we talked about the three Cs. You have to have the courage to say directly, “Here is what I want. Here is what I need.” That is hard for some people.
For others, no problem. They are a high-D dominant on the DISC. They have courage. They can say no problem with what they want and need. You need to turn up the second C volume a little, which is the compassion. It is being able to deliver that courageous direct message in a way the other person can hear it. The third C is curiosity. It is being able to explore, “That is what I want and need. What do you want and need?” so that you can then find that balance in the relationship. If you are the one that is always winning and the other person is losing, that is fine in the short term. For the long term, it is not sustainable for that relationship to be healthy and positive.
Sustainability is the goal. I love the three Cs, Courage, Compassion, and Curiosity. Those are the external challenges and obstacles that we have. I was triggered by an Instagram post. Do you mind if I share this?
Yes, I love that.
Jordan B. Peterson is the author of the 12 Rules for Life. He is a bestselling author and a clinical psychologist. He has an education podcast. I listened to his book on tape. He wrote this thing that super triggered me. It is called, “People who do not choose a job or a career commonly become unmoored and drift. They may attempt to justify that drifting with a facade of romantic rebelliousness or prematurely world-weary cynicism. They may turn to casual identification with avant-garde artistic exploration or treat the attendant despair and aimlessness with the pursuit of hardcore alcohol, drug use, and instant gratifications, but none of those makes for a successful 30-year-old, let alone someone a decade older. The same holds true for people who cannot choose and then commit to a single romantic partner or are unable or unwilling to be loyal to their friends. They become lonely, isolated, and miserable. All that merely adds the additional depth of bitterness to the cynicism that spurred the isolation in the first place. That is not the sort of vicious circle that you want to characterize your life.”
I was reading that because I appreciate his work and listened to his book. I have always seen myself as someone like how I ended up in Miami Beach. As I came here on vacation, I didn’t leave and then I ended up buying the place. I have had life coaches say, “Alicia, you are like a rudderless sailboat. You go where the wind blows.” I have always liked that about myself. I noticed that this little message triggered me. Instead of writing some “I disagree” on Instagram, I am in the awareness of it.
You were able to pause and now you are in the thinking stage like, “What is this triggering me? How do I want to move forward given that I am triggered?” It is interesting because there is another external practice of Thoughtfully Fit, which is flexibility, being able to stretch to accept others as they are. We talked about the obstacles and themes that my clients brought in. They would be like, “If somebody else would be different, if my boss would smile more when I came in, or if my spouse would put the dishes in the dishwasher, then I could be happy.” They put a lot of energy into being angry that somebody isn’t the way they think they should be or putting energy and trying to change them.
Flexibility is stretching to accept them as they are and then consciously choosing what you want to do with that. It feels like you are in a place of, “That triggered me. What do I want to do? Where do I want to consciously choose to put my energy?” You might decide to act by sharing a comment to him, engaging, and challenging him, or you might decide, “Go on the shelf and I am going to go back to focusing on what matters most to me right now.”
It is going back to your framework of pause, think, and act. I am in the thinking part of that. I am in the reflecting. It is like, “Can I have more structure in my life? Is there an ability for me to commit to having more?” I have been committing to things and also accepting myself for who we are because not everyone is going to be the same person. That is what makes life interesting is that there are so many different personalities and people. If we were all the same, it would be quite boring.
That is at the core of Thoughtfully Fit. It is all based on coaching philosophies. When I am coaching others, I am holding them as the expert. If I am mentoring somebody, I am the expert. You come to me and I am your mentor. It’s a huge benefit of having a mentor, “I have been there. I have done that. Let me give you some advice.” In coaching, there is no advice. You don’t tell, teach, and advise. In coaching, it is saying, “That triggered something in you. What did it trigger? What do you want to do with that? What is the advantage of having more structure? How does that align or not with your values of letting the wind blow you wherever you go and you get to choose?”
The fundamental concept of how we train mindfulness is to pause and then think, and then act. Click To Tweet
I want you to share some of the life lessons in your book, Thoughtfully Fit.
Here is what is crazy. I spent years researching after coaching thousands of hours. It was a Saturday in 2016. My colleague was with me and my husband was there. We had all these flip charts and Post-its all around and Thoughtfully Fit officially came to life, the model we were so excited about. On Monday, I called and hired a publicist to help us put it out in the world. I hired a strategic planning consultant so that we could create a movement with Thoughtfully Fit. Five days later, on Thursday, my life was turned upside down in a moment in a phone call I got from my neighbor who said, “Darcy, what is going on at your house?” I said, “I don’t know. I am not at home. Why?” She said, “There are 50 police cars in a SWAT team outside your house with guns. They took your husband out handcuffed, barefoot.” “What are you talking about?”
I will shorten the story. I found out my husband was arrested for sexual assault of a minor he had met online. He was a full-time stay-at-home dad to our two young daughters. He was taken away and never came home. He is serving a federal ten-year prison sentence. It was in the papers for weeks, social media, and the news. I have sent my kids to live with my sister in another state. I had to hire an attorney because it was so bad. He said, “Darcy, don’t talk to anybody about anything. This is serious.” I became ground zero to test drive this model, Thoughtfully Fit, and all of these tools and strategies because all of a sudden, I had more obstacles, people problems, and challenges than I ever could have.
It was worse than a nightmare. I would never have dreamed that. It was the day before our ten-year wedding anniversary. When I think about three life lessons, this book helped me to overcome that challenge. At that moment, I became ground zero to test drive. Thankfully, I had been training for a long time, so I was able to go out. I would say three quick lessons. One, always know life is hard. If you train for it, you can handle it better, and you will have less likelihood of creating more problems. How do you train for it? It goes back to engaging your core, which is to pause, think, and act. There were multiple times when I had a mother call me and said, “Did you have anything to do with this?” I was like, “It never dawned on me.” At that moment, if I had reacted on autopilot, I would have given her a piece of my mind.
At that moment, pause, breathe and think. She is scared. Her daughter was at our house a lot under my husband’s supervision. “I didn’t have anything to do with this.” “If I find out there are any pictures of my daughter or a video, I am sending the mafia to your house.” There was all this and I became ground zero. That created another, “Pause right now and think. I get it. You are scared. I know.” The act was, “Get off the phone because this is beyond the scope of what I can handle at this moment. I am overwhelmed.” To be able to always explore what my choices are and what I control in any situation, and you do that by continually engaging your core.
I want to acknowledge you for opening up and sharing that story. That is very powerful.
I appreciate that. It is funny your opening question, “Why did you write this book?” I wanted to write the book to talk about this model. I went to a writing retreat. At the end of the first day, I said, “This is good. In ten years, when I write the memoir about what happened to me, I am going to use this.” The facilitators looked at each other and they were like, “No, that is this book.” I was like, “No. This book is about thoughtfully fit and the strategies.” They were like, “You use this book you just said.” The book is a hybrid memoir of how thoughtfully fit helped me and the stories, along with case studies and then the tools and strategies to train to get yourself through whatever crises and obstacles you have.
It is the hero’s journey. We get to come to our knees. We get to have that moment where we fall that we reach the abyss and then we come back with the lessons learned, the golden elixir. I found I work with a lot of women authors. I have this program called BookWritingAsTherapy.com and I help women. When they come to me to write a book, it is not about writing a book. It is about getting it all out. Our first several months working together is in coaching and eliciting capacity. It is therapeutic and healing. When the book is done, it supports them in being not in their story but in their story. It is like using their story as a platform to not be in it, but be able to share it from the point of not victim. You share from the point of, “This is what happened and this is where I am now.”
What a gift that you are giving to these women and clients to explore their stories and how to use writing as a process. To me, that was a powerful process. Eighty-three edits later, what I had to do was like, “That was my therapy. Now, how do I edit and repackage this for the benefit of the reader so that it is not for the benefit of me?”
It focuses out because everybody has a story, some trauma, or something that feels that happened to them in some way. By sharing your story, you give them permission to be able to share theirs. Our closest heart-to-heart connection is through vulnerability. It is when someone shares something personal that gives us the ability. It is like our heart takes a little exhale.
That exactly is how I feel. When it first happened, if you had told me in five years I would be on the cover of a book, I would say, “No way. I am going to a cave and a hole. I am going to crawl and hide.” Now, it is so freeing to be in this place of vulnerability, forgiveness, and sharing my journey to hopefully provide not only hope for others but also some concrete tools and strategies to be able to move through whatever the challenges are. Everybody has crises and obstacles. They might not be an ex-husband in prison, but they might be a coworker who is annoying, and you hate going to the office. That is a challenge that can take over your life as well.
That is a powerful story. Thank you, Darcy. I hope a lot of our audience and people who are going to purchase your book are going to be moved by what you shared and what you shared in your book. As you shared our life lessons, I would love for us to open up to a speed round. This is where you will answer the first thing that comes to your mind. The first question is, what is your favorite book?
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
I have a retreat called Women’s Search for Meaning. I am super excited about it. I will let you know.
I would love to know about that.
The next question is, what author has contributed significantly to your life?
Does everybody give this answer? Brené Brown.
No, not everyone does.
She has put on paper The Gifts of Imperfection and Dare to Lead. That has influenced me in a significant way.
What life lesson do you wish you learned earlier on?
There are so many. It is interesting because I am standing on this platform of writing a book because of all the failures I had and all the ways that I wasn’t thoughtfully fit. I am like, “Here is what you shouldn’t do.” I didn’t launch my full-time business until twenty years into my career. I wish I had learned to have more courage and to be able to set boundaries and put my own needs and desires first, not in a selfish way, but in a way like, “This is my gift and zone of genius,” and give myself permission to do that earlier in life.
What is next? What are you writing now?
We have a companion workbook coming out that we are working on. This book is my story and how I applied the tools. The companion workbook is going to be very specific about how you can workshop these and use them. It is an opportunity to apply it to your life and story.
The final question is, what is your legacy? What are you making behind?
I know it is a little scary. I don’t think I have ever said this besides with my team. Back in the ’80s, emotional intelligence was brand new. Nobody had heard of it. Now, it is a household name. People are handling themselves thoughtfully in politics, Black Lives Matter, issues where somebody doesn’t have the same values as they do that, they can be thoughtful in the relationship, and how they handle themselves no matter what.
Darcy, please share with the audience how they can find more about you, purchase your book, websites, and social media?
When you feel the negative emotion escalate, be strong enough to choose how you show up in any situation consciously. Click To Tweet
It is on Amazon and all the local stores anywhere. It is on Audible. My website is DarcyLuoma.com. I am on all of the social media channels. If anybody wants to take a quiz to learn which of those six hurdles is your biggest, you can go to ThoughtfullyFit.com. It will give you the results of which is the biggest, and that will help you to narrow your focus on, “Where do I need to start training to be thoughtfully fit?”
Darcy, I would love for you to share one last piece of advice for our audience out there.
My last piece of advice is to keep training. I say that because if you are training your mind and handling yourself thoughtfully, don’t give up. If you feel like life is a mess, you are stuck, it is over, you are not handling yourself well, and you have stress, that is okay. It can get better. Continue to engage your core. Pause, think, and act on the little things and you will be strong to handle the big things.
Darcy, thank you so much for being here as a guest on the show.
- Darcy Luoma
- Thoughtfully Fit
- 12 Rules for Life
- Man’s Search for Meaning
- The Gifts of Imperfection
- Dare to Lead
- Audible – Thoughtfully Fit
About Darcy Luoma
Darcy Luoma, the author of Thoughtfully Fit®, is a Master Certified Coach, dynamic facilitator, and inspiring motivational speaker. She has worked as director for a U.S. Senator, deputy transition director for a governor, and on the national advance team for two U.S. presidential campaigns.
As the owner and CEO of Darcy Luoma Coaching & Consulting, she’s worked in forty-eight industries with more than five hundred organizations to create high-performing people and teams. The media has named Darcy the region’s favorite executive-and-life coach four times.
Darcy balances her thriving business with raising her two energetic teenage daughters, adventure travel, and competing in triathlons.