Mindset is hands down one of the most overlooked and under appreciated components of any health and fitness program. It can also the one factor that is totally cock-blocking you from getting optimal results from your training program. The good news is you can totally change your mental habits! Building strength and fitness gains is the easy part. You just have to show up, be consistent for a period of time and then, well, continuing to show up and do work. Changing your mindset, on the other hand, is a challenge. It takes time, forces you to look inward, and really think. For most, those things are painful and difficult since it requires work and changing deep seated beliefs.
By focusing on your mindset and facing your negative mental habits you will not only turbo-charge your fitness results, you will find it spirals out into your motivation, confidence, happiness and success in all areas of your life. And that shit is f*&king cool!
Here are some big rocks to help you get started on flipping the switch on some possible negative mental habits.
1. Neglecting Process-Based Goals
Generally, when most people begin a new fitness or training program the big focus is on an 'outcome' based goal. Things like:
"I want to lose 20lbs."
"I want to be able to squat double my bodyweight."
"I want to become the next American Ninja Warrior."
Outcome-based goals describe how we want things to be at the end of the process and to be clear, there is nothing wrong with that. But we can't stop there because what they are missing is everything that happens in the middle. They are good enough to get you started but in most cases won't keep you motivated to continue on that journey. The problem is most outcome based goals can change frequently and tend to be vague which can quickly derail motivation.
Have you ever started with one of these type goals in mind and found your motivation waning after about a week or two?
The truth is that we can't always control outcomes because there are way too many factors that can (and will) affect the outcome. It can be external things like you get too busy busy at work, start dating someone new, have a baby, or decide to join the cast of Hamilton. It can also come from internal factors like lack of sleep, getting sick, or your hormones changing with age.
Flip the switch
Instead, get into the habit of setting 'process-based' goals to focus on what you can control. These are the things you can do daily to move toward an outcome goal AND that you have more power over. They are infinitely more effective to maintaining motivation since it's easy to build momentum and have small wins daily. Focusing here WILL get you where you want to go if you have patience. You'll be much happier along the way, too!
These small daily things like scheduling your time to train, work on your (insert exercise here) to get better, or eating fruit for dessert instead of sweets 3 times per week. There are literally billions of these tiny habits or process-based goals you can set to help you build up your ninja skills daily to become a better version of your already sexy self.
2. Having a Chronic Case of the 'Shoulds'
"Comparison is the thief of joy." - Benjamin Franklin
This is something that affects all of us at one point or another and is a mental habit that prevents you from enjoying where you are now. Feeling like you 'should' (insert quality here) is an externally imposed expectation that can easily cause a mixed bag of feelings such as frustration, anxiety, anger and depression to emerge. Here are a few examples:
"I should be more jacked-er than I already am."
"I should be able to deadlift as much as Drake."
"I should workout more."
These statements are ultimately causing you to compare yourself to someone else or some cultural ideal of what is "good" behavior. The problem is that it doesn't take into account whether or not it is exactly what is "right" for you, right now. This can be especially harmful to your ego and how you feel about yourself. (And, yes, you ARE awesome, by the way!)
Flip the switch
Instead, get into the habit of focusing on where you are now and just working to get a little better every day. Ultimately, this will unlock your true potential and help you become the best version of yourself.
This has been a big one for me, personally. What I have found that helps when I get a bad case of the 'shoulds' I like to remind myself of these 3 things:
- All the hard work that has got me where I am.
- I am doing everything I can to get a little better each day.
- Is what I think I 'should' have really what I want.
To Be Continued...
Those are 2 BIG mental habits to get started working to start nailing your health and fitness goals and generally being happy AF with the process. Stay tuned for Part 2!