Since the advent of the internet we live in a world where information is just a click away. If you want a new workout routine you can just find one on Pinterest. You want a new diet you can get one from the hundreds of fitness sites that will give you the low down on anything from Keto to carb cycling. Yet, why do so many people find it so hard to achieve a fit body and establish healthy lifestyle habits? Is it a lack of information or is it deeper than that? The following are three reasons why I believe most people fail at their fitness journeys:
1. Identity: One thing that separates humans from animals is that we have the power to choose whom we want to become at any moment. So often when embarking on a fitness journey you look at yourself through the lens of your current body or health state. You may say things like, “I am out of shape” or “I am diabetic”. Yes, those things may be part of your current situation, but they are not who you are! By simply seeing yourself as a fit individual you will start to try and align your actions to meet your new identity. When you’re out to dinner you may find it harder to over eat or skip on workouts because doing so will not align with your new identity.
2. Burnout: Anytime we start something new we tend to overestimate our abilities and level of motivation to see things through. I see it all the time. A new client will want a five-day workout routine, a structured meal plan, and a supplement list. At times, this works in the short run, but it’s very likely to cause burnout in the long run. Although you may be motivated to start, life will ultimately chip away at your desire to workout five days a week and follow a rigid meal plan. For this reason, starting off with short term wins will give you the positive reinforcement you need to keep the motivation to continuously optimize your fitness goals. For Instance, committing to two days a week at the gym and removing sugary drinks may be a good place to start. Once you get the hang of that, add something else. Remember, motivation is limited and stress is cumulative. Not overloading to start will establish the foundation of habits you need to be successful.
3. Lone Wolf Mentality: Today it is so easy to try and do everything on our own. We get in the state of mind that I can just download this app or go to the gym on my own and I will be alright. Nevertheless, this way of thinking will ultimately hinder you. Most people who achieve success will attribute their success to the help of others. Finding a community of like-minded individuals will allow you to grow and to contribute to the group. Additionally, your community will keep you accountable and motivated. Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with others. Whether it be hiring a fitness coach, going to group class, or simply finding a workout buddy, GET CONNECTED!
Lastly, health and fitness is a continuous journey. Aim to get just a bit better each day. There will be times where life will throw you a curve ball, but you can choose to react differently by adopting a new identity, take it one step at a time, and rely on your community. Enjoy the process, because in the process you will learn commitment and perseverance!
Are your thoughts, beliefs and actions sabotaging your weight loss? I see it all the time with my clients. They kick ass with their workouts, eat healthy, lose weight and then BAM I get a text that they crashed. Their car magically arrived at In and Out Burger where they consumed 2 double doubles, a large French fry and a gigantic soda. WTF?!? Can you relate to this? Have you ever been on track doing what you think you are supposed to do and then you magically end up in the fast food line or on your couch double fisting ice cream containers and reversing all of your hard work?
After witnessing such events over and over again, I knew that there had to be more to the story than lack of will power. Why would someone work so hard and then throw it away for food? Food doesn’t have some magical power, it doesn’t have the ability to talk to you and taunt you into eating it. (Well….Maybe it does) I decided to search deeper into the behaviors my clients were exhibiting. I discovered neuroscience and the power of our thoughts, beliefs and habits.
Let’s delve into a little dictionary/definition session shall we.
A thought is defined as an idea that suddenly occurs into our mind.
A belief is nothing more than a thought that has been thought over and over and over again until we believe it to be true.
A habit is an action that we do repeatedly that reinforces our beliefs.
So basically, a crazy thought (from an unexplainable place) pops into our mind, shoves itself into our brains, we take that thought, believe it to be true and then take action based on it and now we have a new habit.
So what I have gathered is this, people adopt thoughts over a period of time and believe them to be true. Once they believe these thoughts they take action to reinforce them. If people adopt certain thoughts that come from Magic Land such as; working out is hard, eating healthy is too much work, I was born this way or (my personal favorite)… I always fail when I try.. then they are going to create actions that reinforce these thoughts. If I constantly told myself and/or verbalized to others that I was “fat” or “fluffy” then I am powerfully reinforcing these thoughts to be true.
This leads me to a little thing called neuro dissonance, or in other words, a disconnection in the brain. When our actions conflict with our beliefs, our brains force us to revert back to what it knows. For example, if we have set our brains GPS system to “Fluffy-Land” and we start to workout, eat healthy and say nice things to ourselves our brain thinks we are off course. When we stray off course towards “Fit-Land” with these new thoughts and actions our navigation system steps in, makes a lot of noise and sends us back in the direction of Fluffy-Land. These new actions are not in alignment with our GPS destination. This is when we find ourselves at the In and Out drive through. Our GPS is doing what it is supposed to do by telling us that we need to get back on course.
The good news is we can change our GPS destination by overriding the current one. We can get to “Fit-Land” we simply have to change our GPS settings.
Here are 5 steps to creating new thoughts, beliefs and habits so that we arrive at the correct location.
Step 1. NOTICE — Start to notice and observe your thoughts. Are they negative or positive? Do they help or hurt you? How do they make you feel?
Step 2. CHALLENGE — Challenge any negative thoughts that you notice. Where did they come from? Do they serve you? If not, tell them to take a hike.
Step 3. REPLACE — Interrupt the negative thought by replacing it with something more positive. For example, if you notice a thought such as “I’m not good enough” or “I will always be overweight” replace it with “I am good enough” or “Anything is possible”.
Step 4. REINFORCE — Keep reinforcing the positive thoughts and give less attention to the negative ones.
Step 5. TAKE ACTION- Take action towards your goals. Start working out and eating healthy. This time couple it with the positive thoughts and beliefs and watch your GPS start to change directions.
As a reminder, your current GPS system has probably been set for a very long time. Be kind to yourself as you go through the journey of changing destinations. You didn’t get here in one day so don’t expect to change in one day.
Progressive Health & Performance resides in the Temecula and Murrieta area of Southern California and also serve the surrounding cities of Lake Elsinore, Menifee, Canyon Lake and Wildomar, but we work with clients nationwide. Whether it's your toughest health challenge or your next fitness goal, we are here to serve you.
39400 Murrieta Hot Springs Rd
Murrieta, CA, 92563