How to Change Your Fitness Mindset (And How You Will Succeed Once You Do)

The power of the mind is incredible.
The power of the mind is incredible.

Ever started on the path to fitness and then gave up?

We all have.

As a Nurse Practitioner and health coach, I see it happen all the time.

Most of the time, it has everything to do with a person’s mindset.

Our limiting beliefs about ourselves are, well, limiting. Even if we decide to get fit and pursue health, we will fail if deep down we don’t really believe we could be fit or strong. Despite our determination, our negative beliefs will undermine our efforts, and we’ll sabotage our own efforts.

Good news though!   What we believe about ourselves can be changed. Our brains are capable of creating new neural pathways and changing not only our beliefs but also behavioral patterns. It just takes work.

We have it backwards. The path to fitness doesn’t start with a strategy of when and where and how to work out. It doesn’t even start with a nutrition plan. It starts with a correct mindset – one that believes we can accomplish the health and fitness we desire.

Only once we believe we are capable of change, is it sensible to work toward that goal.

How to Change Your Mindset

First, don’t expect instant results. This thing takes time. In order to develop a fitness mindset one of the first things we have to understand is that whatever physical shape we are in today, it is the result of hundreds of small habitual actions performed throughout our life.

And we have to understand that just as we don’t get out of shape and overweight overnight, we won’t get in shape overnight either. We need to truly understand that “instant gratification” is not possible.
Most importantly, we have to understand that a fitness mindset sees life as a journey rather than a destination.

That means every failure and setback is an opportunity for growth – focus on that. We are not eating salad to fill a quota. We are not even working out to build muscles. At least, those aren’t the thing to focus on. Think of them as a byproduct of your patience, consistency, and resilience. And those qualities are grown in the face of difficulty. Embrace that, and the tough days – when you’re physically spent or emotionally worn, or all your drive and desire has dissipated like a mist – those days will seem less like drudgery and more like opportunity.

 

Practically, changing your mindset is the training of your thoughts every day. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, it’s a minute-by-minute work.

Steps to Changing Your Mindset

  • Identify the Thought You Want to Change
    We can’t change something we don’t know about. Be honest with yourself about what you really believe. Do you really, deep down, believe you can eat clean as a lifestyle for the rest of your life?  Do you really, deep down, believe you can one day become consistent at working out? What do you believe about yourself? Do you feel that you are worth it?
  • Recognize When You’re Thinking the Thought
    This is where you spy on your own brain, catching it red handed as it lies to you. Listen closely for that negative self talk. When you’re vacuuming and your mind wanders, do you hear those negative thoughts?  For example, if you don’t believe that you can ever stop snacking on sweets in the evenings, you might catch yourself thinking, “I’m an emotional eater.” The more you think these thoughts, the more they become true. Catch them in the act.
  • Replace the Thought
    Once you catch the negative self-talk in the act, stop. Stop yourself from thinking it. Refuse to indulge that lie one more time. That’s what it is – it’s a lie. Replace it with a truth – even if it’s not necessarily true right now, make your mind identify it as a truth. It is possible, to some degree, to speak things into being. If you tell your brain something over and over, it will begin to believe you. Once you believe it, your behaviour will follow. Because we act on our beliefs. We can’t help it.  Putting pen to paper and writing these beliefs and belief replacements down has been proven to be most effective.

 

Positive Replacement Thoughts

There are loads of ideas of positive replacement thoughts, or mantras as some call them. Here’s a list to kick-start your brainstorming.

My most recent ones are, “I am a gladiator!” or “I am a chiseled badass granny!”  The more I say it, the more I believe it. And the more I believe it, the more I act like it. It’s the coolest thing to be able to train our brain.

 

What limiting thoughts are keeping you from growing in health and fitness?
What positive declaration can you replace it with? (Share in the comments so I can cheer you on!)

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