The good news is that just because you’ve always had self-limiting beliefs or bad habits, it doesn’t mean you need to have them forever.
One of the biggest misconceptions that people have is that belief is a static, intellectual concept. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Beliefs are a choice. We all have the power to choose our beliefs. Our beliefs become our reality.
The brain is more than capable of creating new neural pathways, changing beliefs and old patterns of behaviour. It just takes some effort. All you need to do is to take steps to notice your bad habits, challenge them and even begin to replace them.
If you have a ‘Can’t do’ attitude then you are setting yourself up for a fall straight away. I always tell people never to say, ‘I can’t.’ I encourage people to believe in themselves and their ability to improve. I would rather people said they dislike or struggle with something than they ‘can’t’ do it as most of the time this is the case.
In order to change not just our words but our mindset, it’s important to learn how to form our thoughts and instructions in our head.
People who are pessimistic are more susceptible to giving up, often thinking things are unachievable. They’ve either tried and failed, or have not been willing to try at all because they feel they can never succeed so there’s no point in even starting.
Take this example – ‘I can’t cook so I’d be a terrible cook if I tried.’ Everyone can cook! You follow instructions and there you go! If you don’t give things a go, how do you know that you might actually have a talent? If you put the time and positive attitude towards it you may surprise yourself.
Too often people are not willing to give things a try. ‘So what’ if you fail at first – the best of us do sometimes. Giving up is just the easy way out.
Styles of a pessimistic person might be a common style of ‘I can’t’, a personal style of ‘I will fail’ and a lasting style of ‘It will never work.’
So, in the context of weight loss and dieting failure, an ‘I can’t’ common style attitude would say ‘there’s no point trying to change.’ A personal one would be ‘I’m a failure’ and finally the lasting style would be ‘diets never work.’
To switch this up you could instead focus on the opposite. ‘Change is always possible’, ‘if this clean eating diet doesn’t suit me, another will’ and ‘this clean eating diet didn’t work for me this time, but I’ll find another that will soon.’
The difference between these two statements is huge. Accepting failure is a key part of a growth mindset.
It also has huge implications when it comes to fitness goals and making self-promoting choices. We’re all bound to make mistakes or face minor setbacks from time to time but it’s how we deal with them that is important. When you experience failure it’s normal to feel cross, angry, frustrated and emotional.
Let that happen, then reflect and take the opportunity that the failure gives you. What can you learn from not achieving your goal?
You can separate the power of emotion from belief. It’s alright to feel annoyed and upset about something that you consider a setback or failure, but resist attaching a belief of ‘I’m upset because I’m incompetent’ or ‘I’m sad because I’m always a failure.’
When we encounter difficulty, we react by thinking about it and our thoughts rapidly mould into beliefs. These beliefs may become so habitual we don’t even realise we have them unless we stop and focus on them.
This is just a snapshot into what’s going on below the surface when it comes to performance, motivation and self-esteem. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone learns at a different pace, has different beliefs and different experiences.
Armed with a lot more awareness, you can start to really question whether it’s you that is the root cause of why you find it hard to change your mindset, hit your goals and commit to training.
Although it’s invaluable to get more insights into why you might be experiencing these thoughts, the important thing now is to take the steps to remove them. If you set small, achievable goals and then reach them, it soon starts to become easier and your mindset starts to change.
Take my earlier example of ‘I can’t cook.’ I would suggest to someone that they try a simple recipe at first and see how it turns out. If it’s inedible, does it matter? Laugh it off and try again!
For some simple recipes, take a look at my recipe section – many are so simple to make and there are lots to choose from to suit all tastes.
The same ‘mindset’ issues apply to training. An example I have recently had of this is – ‘I got tired in the warm up so I can’t see what the point is in continuing – I will just disappoint myself and I can’t cope with any more failure in my life.’ Take a different approach. ‘Wow that warm up was tough! I am going to try and get through the whole workout but if I struggle and have to give up then that’s ok – I gave it my best shot and I know it will get easier with time and perseverance. My goal for the first 4 weeks of the plan is to get through this warm up and be able to get through the whole workout.’
It’s small achievable goals that will give you the satisfaction of achieving something and start to lead to confidence and an ‘I can’ attitude.
I want you to take a few minutes to ask yourself the following question before you read on : –
Why do you want to eat healthily and exercise?
Most people’s answers are – ‘because I want to lose weight for my holiday’ or ‘because I am fed up with being fat’ or ‘because I have a new outfit to fit into by a certain date’ etc. I now want you to read the following and then answer the question again.
Don’t let weight loss be your only reason to exercise, if your mindset is geared towards this then you are setting yourself up for failure. Of course, exercise has weight loss benefits, but you will not sustain a long-term benefit from it if it is done solely to lose weight. I can pretty much guarantee that if you set out to exercise just to lose weight you will not be consistent, you will get frustrated, you will not enjoy it, you will find it a chore and you will not see results at the pace that you want to. It’s a bit like a crash diet, you don’t see results quick enough so you give up and try something else, creating a yo-yo effect.
Treat your body with the respect that it deserves – after all it’s the only place you have to live.
Have a read of the below benefits of exercise and answer the question I asked you again.
1. It’s good for your heart
Even a moderate amount of exercise helps your heart. Some exercise is better than none and more is better than less. Exercise reduces LDL cholesterol, the kind that clogs arteries. It also reduces your blood pressure, relieving stress on your heart; improves your insulin sensitivity; improves heart muscle function and blood flow and diminishes the chances of developing blood clots.
2. Exercise promotes weight loss
If you exercise energetically for at least 30 minutes a day, or with the MyFitZone high intensity workouts, you can actually achieve the same benefit as you might from much longer, less intense workouts. Significant benefit can be achieved from short workouts of just 5 to 10 minutes daily. It all depends on the intensity you put in. Take some of the workouts on my website – TRI #1 for example – this takes less than 5 minutes and you could repeat it 2 to 3 times for a maximum 15-minute workout but after that you would lose form and not get the most out of it for any longer after this due to the lower intensity you would then be working at. Be consistent and be regular and you will achieve the result you desire – to lose weight and keep it off.
3. Exercise prevents osteoporosis
Exercise, together with a healthy calcium intake, builds strong bones. Weight-bearing exercises like running, walking and weight-lifting help lower your odds of getting osteoporosis as you grow older. Ideally, you should start when you’re young, but it’s never too late to pick up the habit. Even a brisk walk can help
4. Exercise lowers high blood pressure
Exercise is good for your blood pressure – no matter your age, weight, race or gender. And it really doesn’t matter whether you get exercise from a brisk walk, a fast run or a few laps in the pool; the results are equally good. Choose activities that increase heart rate and improve the body’s ability to use oxygen. On average, exercise helps reduce systolic (top number) blood pressure by nearly 4 mm Hg, and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure by slightly more than 2.5 mm Hg. But those with extremely high blood pressure should not rely on exercise alone to control hypertension.
5. Exercise is an excellent de-stressor
It’s general knowledge that exercise counters stress and depression. Exercise acts as a temporary diversion to daily stresses and it improves self-esteem. Increased core temperature during exercise may lead to reduced muscle tension and favourable alterations in brain neurotransmitters. Mood improvements may also occur due to the increased secretion of endogenous (internal) opiates, e.g. endorphins. Psychological changes may occur because of changes in norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, all hormones which can affect mood and anxiety levels.
6. Exercise prevents colds
One doesn’t automatically associate regular exercise with a reduction in the number of colds people get. But research has found that people who exercised regularly were 23% less likely to get colds than those who exercised less. And if those who exercised got colds, the symptoms disappeared more quickly than in the study participants who did little exercise. Exercise spikes the immune system for a few hours each day, helping to ward off colds. Thirty minutes of brisk walking or a quick MyFitZone 5-minute workout is enough to make you reap the benefits of exercise.
7. Exercise reduces the severity of asthma
Many people who suffer from exercise-induced asthma understandably try to avoid exercise. But sports medicine specialists say it’s possible for asthmatics to continue exercising if they use preventive medications wisely and avoid certain triggers that exacerbate attacks. Exercise-induced asthma can be made worse by cold, dry air or air containing high levels of pollen or pollutants. The extra effort made to stay fit pays off in fewer or milder asthma attacks overall and a need for less medication
8. Exercise reduces diabetic complications
Lifestyle factors have a huge impact on certain conditions and diabetes is one of them. Exercise can help to reduce your insulin requirements, lower your cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and in the long term can reduce the development of heart disease and stroke. This is important because diabetics have a higher risk of developing heart and circulatory problems. Exercise can also promote weight loss, improve circulation and reduce stress levels (raising your glucose level)
9. Exercise promotes a healthy pregnancy
Although exercise might be risky in some cases, the benefits of exercising during pregnancy generally far outweigh the risks and some women can even exercise up until the third trimester. Relaxation exercises, Kegel exercises that strengthen the pelvic muscles and back exercises are all important for pregnant women.
10. Exercise plays a role in preventing cancer
At least 35% of all cancer deaths may be related to being overweight and lack of activity. Exercise is believed to speed the passage of food through the colon, thereby reducing the amount of time that any toxins are in contact with the body. Overweight people also tend to have more insulin which promotes the growth of tumours. For women, exercise reduces the level of oestrogen, a hormone linked to breast cancer.
11. Exercise has anti-ageing effects
Exercise enhances blood flow to the brain, possibly reducing risk of stroke. It also improves reasoning and memory. Regular exercise arouses the brain and slows down degeneration of the central nervous system, which leads to slower reaction times and poorer coordination. Exercise also increases strength and size of muscles and improves lung function. Regular exercise can reduce body fat and lower the risk of chronic lifestyle diseases in the elderly. Recent literature suggests that the greatest threat to health is not the ageing process itself, but rather inactivity.
12. Exercise promotes brain health
Exercise increases the flow of blood to the brain, just as it improves circulation to the heart and the rest of the body. Activity also stimulates the growth of nerve cells in the part of the brain involved in memory.
13. Exercise is great for your sex life
Psychologically you feel better about yourself and more inclined towards sex, and physically, being fit improves libido, blood circulation and sexual functioning. It has been said before that the brain may be the most important sexual organ. This is because stressed, anxious and depressed people are usually unable to enjoy a healthy sex life. Additionally, people with a bad body image do not feel good about their bodies and often avoid sex or are unable to truly enjoy it.
14. Exercise improves sleeping patterns
Relaxation exercises will help you to ease tension and relieve headaches, backaches and insomnia. Exercise releases the body’s own painkillers, called endorphins, into your system. It also helps you to gain a sense of emotional wellbeing and a feeling of being more in control. Exercise during the day promotes the onset and quality of sleep. But you need to exercise at the right time: the ideal time for exercise is in the morning. Exercising late in the day can contribute to sleeplessness, because exercise causes an increase in your body’s energy.
15. Exercise combats impotence
Increased circulation as a result of exercise should result in lower levels of impotence, as getting an erection is dependent on the efficiency of blood circulating to the that region. Losing weight, stopping smoking and doing more exercise are associated with better sexual health
16. Exercise helps prevent stroke
According to studies, highly active people have a 27 percent lower risk of having a stroke, or dying if they had one, compared with sedentary people. And people who were moderately active had a 20 percent lower risk. Jogging 15 to 20 minutes a day most days would qualify as highly active. Brisk walks of 30 minutes a day on most days would qualify as moderate activity, so get doing a 5-minute workout every day from the MyFitZone 5 Minute Fat Burning Zone and that classes as moderately active, or go for a 10-minute fat burning workout or a FIIT workout and you would be classed as highly active.
17. Exercise is good for mind and soul
Beneficial effects that exercise has on mental health include the following:
- Exercise may act as a temporary diversion to daily stresses.
- Exercise provides an opportunity for social interaction that may otherwise be lacking in an individual’s life.
- Exercise provides an opportunity for self-mastery. Increasing fitness or improving body composition and other health parameters may improve an individual’s self-esteem.
- Increased core temperature during exercise may lead to reduced muscle tension or alterations to brain neurotransmitters.
- Mood improvements may occur due to the increased secretion of endogenous (internal) opiates e.g. endorphins
- Psychological changes may occur due to alterations in norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin, all hormones which can affect mood and anxiety level.
18. Exercise improves oxygen and nutrient supply to all cells in your body.
Exercise improves the body’s utilisation of oxygen and lowers systolic blood pressure (high pressure is a dangerous condition common in elderly people)
19. Exercise allows you to improve muscle strength, joint structure and joint function
Strengthening exercises increase not only muscle strength and mass, but also bone strength, and the body’s metabolism. A certain level of muscle strength is needed to function every day and do things such as walking and climbing stairs. Strengthening exercises increase this muscle strength by putting more strain on a muscle than it is normally accustomed to receiving. This increased load stimulates the growth of proteins inside each muscle cell that allow the muscle as a whole to contract
20. Exercise helps to manage arthritis
Regular, intensive exercise for patients with rheumatoid arthritis builds muscle strength and aerobic capacity, improves the ability to do daily tasks and fosters a sense of well-being. The positive effects on muscle strength and aerobic capacity could be translated into an improvement in the activities of daily living, this is what really makes a difference in your life.