Making plans for a killer new workout routine or nutrition practice for the new year that will transform your fitness for good? No matter how much time you spend researching different habits, one thing will make or break the achievement of those goals — your mindset.
If you truly think and believe that a goal is achievable, it will be. And the reverse is certainly true as well.
I know this first-hand. My career is based on seeing possibilities for people and companies that they might not think is possible. When I have taken assessments to identify my key strengths, a futuristic perspective and optimism always top the list. So I was surprised and kind of embarrassed when the words “I can’t” sputtered out of my mouth during a recent conversation about fitness.
Talk about a bummer word choice, akin to “your internet connection has failed” when you want to binge your favorite streaming shows or “no signal detected” on your GPS while navigating jacked-up backroads during a road trip. Starting with the phrase “I can’t” will automatically kill one’s progress on a wellness journey before it really gets started.
It happened when I met with Dan FitzSimons, owner of BodyFitz Personal Training Studio in Atlanta, Georgia, to discuss plans for increasing muscle mass while losing extra pounds. I have been training at that private facility for years and truly love to exercise. When he brought up the importance of a monthly check-in to track progress and started speculating on how much weight I could drop, I immediately said his very reasonable goal was not possible. Yikes.
Luckily, FitzSimons called me out on that Debbie Downer nonsense, responding “if that’s what you believe, then it won’t be possible.” That inherent truth hit me like a bullet train. I dropped any semblance of “I can’t” and shifted quickly into “I will.”
Now, I would like to help you do the same. Here are three ways to shift your mindset in order to crush your fitness goals.
1. Remove limits
Remember the movie Limitless staring Bradly Cooper? I really dug that sci-fi action thriller, which was about how taking a special experimental drug gave people extraordinary intelligence and drive. Spoiler alert, it involved drug dealers and other shady types trying to kill Cooper after a while. But aside from that morally questionable element, the best part to me was seeing how the protagonist grew when realizing that anything was possible. Living without preconceived notions about our potential — in fitness and life overall, is something you can consciously choose to do right now.
“Why limit yourself in any shape or form when you can reset your mind, body and goals to do something different?” said FitzSimons. “Instead, shift your mind, body and goals to do something different.”
Amen, brother. Those wise words are true anytime, but even more critical now when having a strong immune system can literally save your life.
“Our goal is to be healthier,” continued FitzSimons. “Every single person that died from COVID-19 had 2.7 co-morbidities. And 75% of those or more is in our control. Body fat is a huge component of this, and it can be lowered through exercise and healthy eating.”
Something that has helped me remove limits is visualization. It gives our mind a place or concept on which to direct focus and then move forward. By slowing yourself down and picturing the best possible outcome, you can get rid of self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk.
The first step is to drop the need for self-judgement and remain open to what may lie ahead. Then play out a current situation; in this case, it might be lowering your body fat by 8%. What do you feel and look like as this leaner incarnation of yourself? Have better energy, concentration, or self-esteem? What is possible in achieving this goal? Increased health and stamina? Able to rock a bikini for the first time in years, or ever? Visualizing those future results helps make them a reality.
2. Create positive affirmations
An affirmation is a positive statement that you repeat like a mantra to reinforce a belief or behavior. Focused, short and sweet is better for maximizing results. FitzSimons gave me the example of saying “I am a fat burning machine” in becoming open to the best possible outcomes decreasing my body fat. Sure, I like it. But my pop culture loving heart came up with something even more motivating for me to repeat to myself:
“I am a lean, mean fighting machine.”
Channeling Bill Murray’s character from Stripes as he tries to encourage fellow Army recruit John Candy to get into shape makes me giggle at first. But the intent of those words reaches deep. Because I want to be in shape, look and feel my best and be up for anything life throws in my way.
Now figure out what affirmation floats your boat. You can change these up at any time as your goals and fitness continue to evolve.
3. Make peace with the past
Changing your mindset also means letting go of the past. It does not matter if you fell short or failed before. Making peace with the rear-view mirror will help you improve your fitness exponentially now.
“Saying ‘I can’t’ is usually based on the past,” said nationally recognized Life Coach Michelle Goss, CPCC. “But we are not in the past. People change and grow. There is an opportunity right here to step outside of logic and reason, and open to something more that you could not imagine was possible. You can step beyond that, being surprised and delighted by how that shift can really work for you.”
There are a number of ways to let go of the past. Journaling can be highly effective. I’ve seen people write letters of forgiveness to their past selves to remove previous burdens. Consider listing all of those past beliefs you’ve outgrown on a piece of paper, and then shredding or burning it to figuratively set yourself free.
It does not matter if you joined a gym and only went once or kept trying a new diet plan, only to quit after four days or frustration. Give yourself a break for a moment. Then, armed with a fresh mindset of possibility, give yourself the gift of better fitness moving forward.