“20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” - Mark Twain
“There is no such thing as failure. Only Results.” - Tony Robbins
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all.” Dale Carnegie
There are a lot of ways to feel inspired, but are we really internalizing what those statements mean? Are we really adopting a strong mindset when we read them and go about our day, only to look back at them when things get tough to remind ourselves that what we think might have something to do with how we perform and if we succeed?
Enough cannot be said for the importance of mindset. Especially when it comes to fitness and nutrition. I’ve worked with many clients who have come to me, wanting to lose weight, beating themselves up for the position they are in, and that motivation has moved them to hire me. Now that’s all well and good, but unless they move past that motivation that is rooted in self-hate, they will fail. They have failed before, and they will fail again. It’s not because they lack motivation either. In the past they focused on all the times they tried to get the body or fitness level they wanted before, and they never stopped that cycle to learn why they failed. More often than not, something got hard, life threw them for a loop so they skipped a day. Then a week. Then they were upset they didn’t keep going, they couldn’t find the motivation. And then their motivation wasn’t never as high as the first day they met me, so they stopped trying all together.
How someone thinks and views themself is exactly how they will present themself, and it is how others will learn to view them too. If one is constantly telling themself they could never run a mile or lose 5 lbs, they’re probably right. However, if they change that to, “I may not have been able to run a mile before, but if I work hard, and stick with the plan I have to get there, I will be able to run that mile.” Changing that internal dialogue will make a world of difference. Notice, it doesn’t matter how fast, it doesn’t matter what the age is. And it’s reinforced every time it’s read - hard work works.
Isn’t motivation enough? Simple answer - never. Motivation is fantastic when it’s there. . But the thing with motivation is that it’s an emotion. It’s not something that successful people have more of. Seriously, they don't. What they have is the knowledge that getting what they want won’t always be fun. They won’t always be jumping out of bed to get to the gym at 5am. They know that there is no finish line, and if they want to stay where they are, each day they need to do something just a little bit better than yesterday.
That’s something else I’ve learned when working with new clients; many of them assume I love working out and I must be super motivated every day to be active and get my training in. They are genuinely surprised when I tell them that’s not the case. Yes, I have learned to enjoy working out and challenging myself and yes, at this point I do love it, but that doesn’t mean I wake up super eager to do it every day. In fact, a lot of days I’d rather just not. However, if I relied on that feeling, I would never accomplish what I want to and get to where I want to be. If I relied on that feeling of motivation to brush my teeth or correct my kids’ behavior, or vacuum my carpet...well, I’d probably have some pretty nasty teeth, out of control kids, and more dog hair than carpet on the floor.
So, why do so many of us rely on that feeling when it comes to feeling and looking our best? I think mostly, because we don’t like working hard...until we do. What is that saying, “it takes 10,000 hours to master something”? Why would getting physically fit be easy? Why should it be easy? Has anything you’ve gotten easily really felt worth it? Did you truly value it? Was it something you protected and would fight to keep? Or does it get lost, fall by the wayside and forgotten?
So we are back to mindset. Let’s look at two different approaches to trying to feel and look your best. Take for instance“Lexie”. She has neglected her fitness for years. She doesn't like how she feels, she doesn't like how she looks. She feels stiff and sore even before getting out of bed every morning and constantly tells herself that if she were just better, she wouldn't be in this position. She started a program with me, mainly because she hated her body. If fact she would tell me so, every time we worked together. She approached her changes to diet and exercise as punishment for how she is. The more she hated a workout and the less food she ate, she figured it was for the better because she deserved to hate life until she got to where she imagined things would be perfect. And until they are in that perfect spot, she deserves to suffer. No small step or improvement will matter until she is at her finish line. The first time I worked with Lexie, she started at 231.9 bs and 49.1% body fat. At the start of our 4th month together, she was down to 208.8 lbs and 44.7% body fat. For the next three months, she hit a dreaded plateau. She refused to celebrate the nearly 30lbs she had lost. She insisted that she just needed to eat less. It got to the point where I started making her do push ups when she called herself disgusting around me. This wasn’t a first, second, or third tactic to help her change how she talked about herself and to herself. The body changes weren’t happening fast enough for her. Then, she started cancelling sessions. Eventually I didn’t hear from her for 6 months. She didn’t answer the phone, emails or texts. I even sent her a handwritten note in the mail - NOTHING.
Then, I got an email from her saying she wanted to start back again, that she wasn’t happy with how she looked or felt, and that she needed to make changes for her health. Okay, great, let’s do this. That day she came back, she was 226.3 lbs and 48.8% body fat. Guess where her mindset still is? I won’t give up on Lexie and we work on mindset continuously, but I still have yet to hear her say that she believes she will get to her goal. She now focuses on how she could have been so much closer if only she hadn’t stopped; a good thing to acknowledge, but not a good thing to dwell on.
Another client, same situation. We’ll call her “Kate”. She too doesn't like how she feels and doesn’t like how she looks. She wants to be able to go up a few flights of stairs without being winded. Her parents are facing major medical issues because they are both overweight, and she doesn’t want to end up in that situation as she gets older. She too, isn’t happy with where she ended up;she used to run track, she used to dance. Kate, however, wants to improve her life. She started working with me because she wanted to care for herself better than she had been. She believes that little things she does will make her feel better and she celebrates each improvement she makes. She knows this is a process; she knows it isn’t happening overnight, but she has started to enjoy the journey, and we celebrate each milestone she hits. She tells me about climbing the stairs at work and how much she used to be winded when she got to the 3rd floor, now she climbs them with ease. It’s been a steady pace with Kate. She started at 49.9% body fat; two months later she was down to 47.4%. More important than the numbers, she felt stronger. She felt more confident, she talked about how she used to approach things at work and how that was evolving as her confidence grew. She was seeing, on a daily basis, she could do and change things she wouldn't have even considered changeable. Kate hasn’t given up, and we still celebrate each milestone, and she puts in the work. Every day.
I know that Kate will keep going. When she struggles, she acknowledges it. We figure out what needs to change and we try it. Sometimes it works; sometimes we need to try something different. Kate is taking care of herself and follows the habits she wants to embody to keep herself as healthy as she can for the rest of her life. As for Lexie, I won’t quit on helping her reach her goals, but unless she starts to adopt a different mindset, she may just get her procard in starting, quitting, and starting over again.
So, doesn’t Kate just have more motivation than Lexie? Having worked quite a while with both women, I can tell you for a fact, that she doesn’t. What she does have is discipline. All too often, discipline is interpreted negatively and people think it’s synonymous with punishment. That's only one definition. I’m talking about the definition that can be found on dictionary.com that means to “train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way”. It’s through discipline that we get the freedom to live the way we want. If we don’t have the discipline to get to bed at night so we get the rest we need and we miss work, well, we don’t have a job, nor do we have the freedom that having that paycheck awards us. It’s the same with our health and fitness. When we have the discipline to put our workouts on our calendar and make them a priority, we have more leeway to enjoy dessert every once in a while. Being disciplined empowers us to not fear when things go off track a little bit. With the discipline, we have the freedom to enjoy that dessert and know that it won’t become a new normal. A disciplined mindset is knowing that we may not love every workout, we may not love every vegetable we eat, but we do it anyway. Knowing we have the control to change how we feel, knowing that doing better will have huge payoffs for our future health we will be putting ourselves in a better position to deal with any injury or medical issue that may arise will be life changing.
So where do you start? First, identify what you think your habits will be when you are living at your goal. Then, start following those habits. Every decision either builds good or bad habits, and you have the control to make those decisions. If you stay disciplined, freedom will follow. It’s developing a self mission statement regarding your goals. Something like, “I am going to exercise regularly and take care of myself with healthier food choices, whether I feel like it or not so I will feel confident and the best I ever have in my skin” is a good start. After all, this is the only body you have in this life. You deserve to have it operate at the highest level it can and have the confidence that you will meet and deal with whatever challenge you face. You just have to believe it and do it.
At Fortis Vita, we help you not only start on your fitness journey, but to help change your mindset so you will keep going to reach and maintain your goals.