Have you ever wanted to make a commitment to your health or maybe even weight loss so badly that you try and fail and try again only to fail and give up all together? Or maybe you succeed but, a month or even a year later you end up back at square one. You start to lose hope of ever achieving real lasting change. Maybe you just recently started your journey but it hasn’t been easy. Instead, you feel like you are constantly pushing against the forces of cravings, lack of will power, and motivation.
If you find yourself relating to any of this, know that you are not alone. Millions of people around the world make a promise to themselves to prioritize their health but are consistently struggling to reach their goals.
What is the reason for this? Why is that so many people genuinely want to make health changes in their lives yet fail to actually follow through? What is the difference between those who struggle and the few that seem to make effortless, lasting change? While many of us are quick to point fingers at the physical means, like proper nutrition and fitness, there is actually a deeper reason that’s hiding behind the curtain. A reason that can be your greatest strength or darkest enemy, and that my friend, is your mindset.
Trying to achieve lasting change without having the proper mindset is like driving a car in unknown territory without a GPS. Yes, you may be able to make turns and stops but the struggle of finding the way to the freeway would be a lot easier if it had the proper technology guiding and directing.
Why the Mind?
So now that we know that the thing between our ears is where the real work needs to be done let’s take a moment to explore why that is. It turns out that our actions are not 100% driven by the “want” or the “need” to do something. If that were true, everyone who wanted to get healthier, simply would. The reason this is more complex is due to the fact that our actions are actually driven by our beliefs that are rooted deep within our subconscious. These beliefs could have been learnt through childhood, developed over time, or taken on by your environment and surroundings. Many times the beliefs we hold do not serve us, in fact they even prevent us from achieving our goals. A common name for these beliefs are limiting beliefs because no matter how true or false they are, they limit our ability to achieve our goals. You may be able to get yourself to the gym for the week but if you have a deep rooted belief that you are not worthy of achieving better health, you will eventually be drawn back to where your mind thinks you belong. This is where the constant battle of binge eating, restriction dieting, and weight fluctuation are rooting from (just to name a few). Your subconscious mind is fighting to align yourself with your beliefs.
The most important thing to understand here is that your beliefs drive your actions which determine and shape your reality. It turns out lasting change is a lot more emotional and mental than we tend to think.
So you may be wondering, “Ok, what now? How do I upgrade my mindset?”. Take a look at the following steps. Read through each and try out some of the exercise that go along with them.
The first step in all of this is awareness. You need to uncover your current limiting beliefs that are steering you off your desired path. Let’s take a deeper look at this, relating back to weight loss.
Look at the following two statements and think of some answers that would complete the sentence.
I can’t lose weight because ______. OR I want to lose weight but, ______.
Complete either of these phrases 4-6 times. Then for each phrase, ask yourself “Why?” and then “Why?” again. Here is an example:
I want to lose weight but, it is impossible for me.
Why is it impossible? Because I hate being hungry.
Why would you have to be hungry? Because people only lose weight when they eat less.
Each time you do this you will uncover a limiting belief that drives your actions towards weight loss. Someone who believes they must eat less in order to achieve their health goals will act in this way. Trying to achieve weight loss with deprivation will only last so long before you go crazy and give up.
The negative self talk or limiting beliefs about our inabilities, our bodies, our ourselves are the foundation to all of our self-sabotaging behavior. Revealing these beliefs is the first step in taking back control. Once they are revealed we can start to analyze our behaviors and actions. Next time you take part in something that goes against your desire for change, think about the root belief that is driving the action. In order to rewire these beliefs we must start telling our brain a new story. Try taking a 30 day affirmation challenge. Each morning you wake up write down 5 new beliefs about yourself. For example telling yourself “I can do hard things.” will rewrite the belief that your goals are impossible. You will most likely take action each day that aligns with your new belief and soon enough you will be living it. It starts with inside, you need to truly believe that you are beautiful, strong, and worthy of doing hard things for.
1. Take Note of Your Emotions
When looking at our mindset with any health journey it is essential to discover the emotions that drive our behavior. A major roadblock many people have yet are unaware of, is the emotional connection they have to food. Many times we do not eat to simply satisfy physical hunger. We eat for comfort, to relieve stress, or to reward ourselves. While, yes it is completely OK to treat yourself every once in a while, you need to also take note if these emotions are driving a majority of your eating habits. An easy way to distinguish your eating motives is to ask yourself, “Am I eating this to satisfy emotional or physical hunger?”. Start to take note of what is driving your action and if you are finding it is more emotional try to test out new and healthier ways to deal with these feelings. In moments or stress, when it is easy to reach for a snack for comfort, seek another outlet. Take a bubble bath, go for a walk, meditate or read a book. Feeling these emotions is a signal that it is time for some self care so, start to give your body what it needs and not what you think it wants. When it is time to eat, view your food as nourishment for your body. Stop dieting and restricting, instead ask yourself, “What can I eat that will make each cell in my body vibrant and happy?”. Food can be a beautiful thing. Find peace of mind in knowing that you are giving you and your body what it deserves.
2. Adopt a Growth Mindset
The best way to evolve your mindset is to change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Let’s define both of these so you have a better understanding. When someone has a fixed mindset they believe that the qualities, skills, and traits they have are fixed or unable to change. This person will avoid taking any risks that may result in failure. For example, if you say, “I'm not a distance runner” then that belief acts as an easy excuse for this person to ever try running long distances. While this mindset will keep you from failing in the short–term, it hinders your ability to learn, grow, and develop new skills for the long-term.
On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset believes that they have the ability to learn, grow, and evolve. This person is willing to try new things and views failure as an opportunity for growth. Instead of thinking “I am not good at this.”, they see potential to develop new skills and expand their abilities. For example, someone who has never ran long distance but has a growth mindset would be willing to practice and learn even if they fail at first. People who have a growth mindset tend to maximize their potential throughout their lives. They learn from failure and criticism rather than being discouraged. They often seek to overcome challenge rather than avoid them.
A growth mindset will allow us to open our mind to new opportunities and build new beliefs that will fully support us in our journey towards change. Instead of quickly stating fixed beliefs that deter you from your goals, allow yourself to fail when trying new things. Try starting small. Having small wins will allow you to see the ability you have for improvement and growth. You will soon appreciate the power of gradual improvement and this is when your fixed mindset will be replaced with growth.
3. Find your Why
In order to get excited and motivated about starting a health journey you need to also uncover your why. Many times people think their goal is to lose weight but when they dig a little deeper there is a more meaningful reason for this desired change. For instance someone may desire to lose 20 pounds but, when asked a few more times “why?”, may reveal they want to get healthier so they can keep up with their active kids and be more apart of their lives. Try this exercise to uncover your why.
What is your health goal? Then take your answer and ask why a few more times.
This may look like this:
What is your health goal? Stop eating processed foods.
Why do you want to eat healthier? To feel energized.
Why do you want to feel energized and vibrant? To live a more vibrant life that supports my ambition and goals.
When we set our mind on a why or purpose greater than ourselves we start to view our goals differently. Make sure your why is something that truly evokes a sense of purpose and motivation within. When times are difficult, you can always come back to your why.
Take Control of Your Destiny
All of this new information seem very overwhelming but try to think of it as simply developing a sense of mindfulness. When trying to prioritize our health it is so easy to get wrapped up in the stress of calorie counting, restricting, or trying out the latest fad diet. Try to step out of this bubble and start with developing your mindset. You will find that when you start from within, the physical means of transformation begin to come naturally. You will want to challenge yourself with new fitness goals and eating healthy will come as a sense of honoring your body. Remember, your mind is in the drivers seat when it comes to your destiny. It is time to take back control of your future.
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