Creating the 10-Week Mindset Makeover course had me spending a lot of time uncovering the connection between how we think and what outcomes we achieve with our physiques. Are they connected, and how?
Of course they are, we know this intuitively. In fact, I’d argue that most of our struggle is in how we think. Think differently and get a different result.
I was visiting my parents in Florida a few months ago. And I was telling my mom–who is obviously not in the fitness industry–about a friend I have who is a doctor, and she’s fairly overweight, really struggling with her diet. My friend came to me and asked for my help. Understandably, my mom’s first question was, “But doesn’t she know what to do? I mean, she has the education, right? Why does she need you?”
Well, we can certainly talk about whether traditional physicians actually do have the education in nutrition and exercise, but the conversation was powerful for me because it reminded me that information does not equal transformation.
The gap between knowing and doing is the largest one on earth.
See, in my early 20s, I used to think that getting results with your body was just a case of nuts and bolts. All you needed was the perfect diet, the right coach to put together the meal plan and the best exercises to do. It was a game of facts. Truths. Information.
And certainty, if you have all the information–the right information, the best information, then results are a no-brainer, right? This is why we get certified, accumulate credentials, read books and scour the latest articles and research. Because there’s always more to know, and the person who accumulates the most to-do’s wins, right? Having the knowledge equals getting the leanest, fittest physique, RIGHT?
… I think we all know this is not true.
If it were, how do you explain an overweight nutritionist, an out-of-shape personal trainer, a physician who has a heart attack?
You explain it because you know that getting results has very little to do with information. And it has everything to with implementation.
The only time having the information makes the biggest difference is when you go from someone who knows nothing to someone who gets a little sliver of insight. These are usually the beginners to a healthy lifestyle. You see this all the time. Beginners get fast results because a) they are just getting their first taste of “the information” and b) their bodies respond like no other with even the tiniest catalyst because well, their body is not used to exercising or healthy food.
BUT. What do you do for someone who has all the information but just cannot implement? I think we have all been in this boat before.
This is such a huge issue–something that all of us in this industry, either professionals or fitness enthusiasts have grappled with: WHY CAN’T I JUST DOOOOO WHAT I KNOW???
It can be frustrating. It can be disheartening. It can make us feel like a fraud. Like we’re weak and out of our integrity. But it’s also a reminder that just because you know something doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily implement consistently.
This tells me that the issue is not so much about to-do’s, but how-to‘s. And those have to do with your mindset. Mindset is the thing that bridges the gap between knowing and doing because it helps you actually implement consistently. When your mindset is such, your actions follow. And your actions create your outcomes.
It’s not what you know. It’s how you think.
And below are some struggles that we’re still having. And they have zero to do with information. They are all about perception. Your perception is your greatest tool. Change it, and your body follows.
1) You’re still trying to out-work the problem.
This is not a work-harder problem. This is a work-smarter problem.
Trying to simply will yourself into making something work that doesn’t have the right parts in place is like struggling to fit a circular peg into a square slot. You can put all the muscle you want behind it but without the right formula lining up, it won’t work.
I liken this to simply berating yourself into compliance. We know that negative motivation does not work, yet it can feel useful in the moment. Guilt, shame and remorse feel like they might keep you “in line” but over time, you become defeated, discouraged and even less compliant, amiright.
The answer is not willing yourself to just do it. That’s 1.0 level stuff, and it’s shortsighted. The answer is instead to find ways to lower what’s called activation energy (the amount of mental energy something takes to do) so that you can not be perfect, but be consistent.
Because the most successful people are the most consistent. They don’t let perfect be the enemy of good, and they would eat a Quest bar every day over trying to make sure all whole foods, organic meals are perfectly prepped and cooked in real time because they know that sustainable change has to do not only with what to do, but what’s actually enjoyable and doable, too.
Your sustainable formula will not be painful. Your sustainable formula won’t be something you have to work harder and harder at. In fact, if you do it right, things should get easier and more automated.
Ask, how can I create shortcuts and workarounds to make things easier on myself while still getting results?
2) You’re still searching out bright shiny objects.
Last year at the ME UK Summit, Jade said, “Humans are funny. As soon as we find something that works, we immediately want to find something else that will work.”
I have to agree. I think it’s just the nature of our program-jumping culture to always be on the lookout for the latest, newest trend and want to jump on board and try it.
But remember, just because something is old doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Besides, the simplest things are often the most impactful. Move every day. Lift stuff. Choose protein and veggies as much as you can. Get 8 hours of sleep. Find ways to feel satisfied in your eating so that it’ll be sustainable. Practice mindfulness. THESE things are simple, you’ve heard them a million times. But they still move the dial way more than any random berry-drink, detox, supplement, new, complicated exercise or flashy new gadget or gizmo.
I understand the excitement of novelty. It’s normal and natural. But in the case of getting results, it’s not necessarily beneficial.
The key is doing the handful of things that we know work, and doing them as consistently as possible.
Because not every nutritional decision has the same impact in terms of outcomes. You don’t have to do every little thing. You only have to focus on the big rocks. They’re the ones that move the dial the most. Focus your mental energy there. As for the rest? Do your best, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because something is new that it’s magical.
3) You still want someone else to have the answer.
Last year on the hike I did with my in-laws, I found myself listening to the family talk and hype about how much the daily walking was going to impact our physiques. Everyone was saying how it was going to be hard to keep weight on us, and we’d have to eat a ton just to maintain!
I admit it. For a second, I wanted to believe them. I wanted to shut off my brain and put my trust into the hands of … the hike? I felt mentally easier to think walking 7-16 miles a day would be JUST the excuse I needed to be able to eat anything I wanted because … aren’t they right? Maybe I will lose weight like a mofo, I better eat up!
The problem was, though, I stopped listening to myself. For a split second, I wanted the hike and this mileage to take over the reigns for a minute. I wanted the fast fix, the magic pill. I let the talk and the hype convince me that I didn’t know my body and that someone else knew what was better for it.
Well, it doesn’t work that way, and honestly, the only thing you can ever really put your trust into is yourself. Who can ever know your body better than you? But it’s irresistible sometimes–the idea that a coach or an expert or a trainer or a book or diet will finally be THE ONE we’re looking for! Those things can offer insight, and you can take them into account, but the ultimate in nutritional freedom is being in touch with your own physical sensations (hunger, cravings, fullness, etc.) while also knowing your mind.
When I started eating crap I didn’t even want because of THE HIKE, I started getting irritated and disoriented. I found out real quick that it wasn’t for me, and I went back to my tried and true practices of mindfulness, moderation, preemptive cheats and abundance mindset.
Work on trusting yourself, getting to know your body, your metabolism, your personal preferences. Take YOU into account and then take radical responsibility for every single choice, action and outcome. Yes, this way takes longer and requires more patience and introspection, but it ends up being the ultimate in control.
4) You’re still trying to justify the way you do things, to other people.
You’re still trying to get people on your team. Someone mentions something about the way you’re eating and you still get that knee-jerk reaction to defend. If the food is “healthy” or not-so-healthy, you feel like you need to justify yourself. Prove to them what you know.
I remember once when I was in an “off-season” during my competition days, right after my latest show, I was out to dinner with a friend and he remarked, after I’d eaten about 3 rolls, “Looks like you’re really enjoying that bread!” Well, as you can imagine, I immediately went into self-righteous, defensive mode: How dare he comment on my eating when I’m the one who scarified for 12 weeks and accomplished something that very few people could do! I earned this!
The funny thing was that I was enjoying the bread! So why did I turn defensive so quick? Why did the comment feel like a personal attack on me? Of course it wasn’t. My friends loves me and respects the hell out of me, so why the intense response?
Well, in retrospect, I see that I was defending because I was personally upset about how I was eating. I felt insecure, shameful and was not fully on board with it myself. I felt weak and undisciplined eating a shitload of bread. So really, I didn’t have to be justifying it to anyone else, I needed to come with the confidence and conviction about my approach to prove it TO MYSELF.
This is about you getting fully on board with your own eating. Believe in it. Whether you choose to eat healthy or choose to indulge. You never have to justify it to anyone else because no one knows what best for you except you. This comes down to fully trusting yourself and trusting your process.
When you trust what you are doing, when you like yourself, when you’re secure in yourself, anyone can say anything anytime and it bounces off you. WHO CARES. Let them talk. You do you.
5) You still want to be perfect or else you might as well give up now.
You do. I get it. Moderation feels like failure. It’s not good enough. And you just can’t shake the all-or-nothing approach to eating because you should be able to do it, right? You see fitness models and competitors and fitness “celebrities” showing their clean meals all over social media and you wonder what’s wrong with you that you CAN’T JUST DO IT DAMMIT. I get you.
But what we tend to forget is that perfection is not an option. Remember? You tried that already. Many times. And believe me, those models and fitness personalities you follow? They’re not perfect either.
I spent 5 years willing myself to eat perfectly, only to fall off the wagon every single week and nose-dive into sweets, treats and cheats for 3 days straight every Friday thru Sunday, only to vow to do better “on Monday.” I remember, I’d have one single thing “off plan” and use that as the excuse to completely throw in the towel and say, “Screw it, I might as well eat anything I want now, already messed up, I’ll start fresh on Monday!”
You know when the best time to “start fresh” is? Right this second.
Perfectionists will always struggle. They will always replay the same scene over and over again. They will never move forward because they cling to the feeble control mechanisms they think keep them in check, like needing to follow a meal plan to 100% compliance, or else. This is a trap that keeps us struggling.
And it’s mindset issue. It’s not a matter of what to do–good grief, WE KNOW WHAT TO DO. What we don’t know is how to allow ourselves the space and self-compassion to mess-up. But resiliency and consistency will always beat perfection. Perfection is an illusion, a myth. An excuse to get out of doing the hard work and transcending the struggle. Your struggles are your greatest teachers. Embrace them. You always win or you learn.
6) You’re still allowing yourself to be victimized by your food and exercise.
I’ve written on this before, and it’s a huge part of the 10-Week Mindset Makeover course: The Victim Trap. It’s easy to fall into the victim mindset when it comes to getting results because well, IT ALL SEEMS SO HARD AND UNFAIR AND IT DOESN’T WORK.
Can you see how perpetuating these perceptions of the process will actually make the process harder, seem more unfair and continue to, in fact, not work? This is your mindset regarding it.
No one is holding a gun to your head telling you to eat chicken and broccoli or else. And yet, when we feel like we have to, and it’s “so much harder for me,” we are being victimized by the process. We are making it more difficult than it has to be. We are complaining about things we actually have control over. You can eat whatever you want any time you want it. Just own your choices.
This is all about perception (aka your mindset).
You can choose to see the health and fitness journey as agonizing, or you can work to find an approach that you enjoy so that you don’t need it to ever be over.
In fact, it’s never over. And wrapping your head around that fact is critical for your own happiness AND your results. This journey never ends, you don’t ever “arrive.” But what you can do is find ways to perceive the journey that serves you. Take 100% responsibility for your choices and your experience.
You might not be able to control outcomes and “what happens” but you can always control your attitude. You can always choose your emotions. Of course it takes practice! But the key is getting started and catching yourself when you are going down that victim road.
Complaining and blaming are not solutions. Holding onto negative emotions is not a solution. Saying how much it all sucks is not a solution.
What is a solution is ownership. Even when deferring ownership feels easier. In the long run, deflecting and blaming keeps you struggling.
Awareness is the first step–watching yourself in the moment and observing how you’re acting and what you are saying. It’s only once you know what’s going on in your mind that you can turn your inner dialogue around into something that serves you.
Besides, it really is all in your mind. It’s all in your perception. And lucky for us, we get to choose our perception in every moment. Might as well choose one that serves us.
Let me know where you gals are at with this stuff. Of course there are so many more insights, tools and strategies around mindset, which I outline in-depth in the 10-Week Mindset Makeover course.
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