The biggest challenge that I have in helping people to change their health and their body is changing their mindset and beliefs about themselves. Many people who aren’t fit (yet) have a way of thinking that holds them back. I see the pattern consistently among many people of all walks of life.
It’s important to understand how our thoughts impact us. Thoughts turn to beliefs which create feelings and can ultimately determine your actions.
We may have been taught at a young age that we are not good at something. This could come from family members, friends or teachers. Maybe we were encouraged to focus on studying and not encouraged to exercise. So sometimes our thoughts and beliefs originated from other people we grew up around.
For example if you think that you can be competent at something you will probably put effort toward getting better at it. Your effort toward that goal will most likely make you better at it so you will be confirming your original thoughts. If you don’t think you could be good at it, you probably won’t put in the effort.
Here are some examples of what I hear people say and what I see people do that is holding them back:
1. I can’t-when I hear someone say this word or something similar I know I have some work to do to help this person. Saying that we can’t do something may be our unconscious way of not wanting to attempt something that we’re scared of failing at. You won’t put the work into something that you don’t think you will be successful at. This ends up as a self fulfilling prophecy. If you tell yourself that you can’t then you end up being right not because you don’t have the ability but because you don’t do the work!
2. I’m always last or the slowest or in the worst shape, etc-there’s always going to be someone better than us. When you’re new and haven’t tried something yet, you probably won’t be better than other people who have been working on it. What else would you expect? You haven’t put the work in yet. It’s the equivalent of expecting to get a A grade when you haven’t studied or gone to class and being disappointed that others had a better grade than you. Also this is relative. Even in the Olympics and other elite level sports, someone is last!
3. I’m not able to do X (fill in the blank with an exercise) so what else can I do? Again this comes back to the same theme here which is if you don’t work at something you never will be good at it. We incorporate challenging exercises during our workouts. We know that not everyone can do them. We have people work on it until they are able to do it (we do give modifications as well for anyone with injuries or is just starting out.). You are getting stronger and more fit with each attempt. It’s like riding a bike. You won’t be able to ride the bike the first time you try it. You will fall many times until you get the hang of it. What if your child tried to ride a bike and after the first attempt said “what else do you have for me? I can’t do this.” Wouldn’t you encourage your child to keep working on it until he or she is able to do it? It just means that there will be a lot of falls until success is reached. Do the same thing in regards to fitness and exercise.
4. Focusing too much on the scale or on a clothing size- This habit is really self-defeating. If you start thinking negatively about what number you see on the scale, this is a downward spiral mentally and emotionally. Some people just give up on their goals if the scale doesn’t change fast enough. Others will go in the opposite direction and overeat to feel better which is really self-defeating.
5. Gravitating toward easier exercises or workouts-Because of lack of confidence, some people want the workout to be easier or have even asked me to exclude exercises that they are uncomfortable with. I have the exact opposite approach. I want to add in exercises they are uncomfortable with so that they will get out of their comfort zone. Your body will burn more calories this way as well. Think highly of yourself for making effort toward your goal instead of feeling bad for not being able to everything yet. Think about how great you will feel when you can do it!
A good tool is to write down any thoughts you are having that are causing lack of confidence. Sometimes you just have to look at it on paper and analyze it to really be able to realize how these thoughts aren’t helping you.
You can change your way of thinking which will change your life.