How many times have you started a new fitness program only to be disappointed? How many times have you promised yourself you would eat less and be more disciplined in the kitchen only to completely abandon those plans?
Are you someone who has been a little out of shape for the last ten years despite your best efforts? And who just really wishes they could get the body they’ve already wanted?
The one they see on the covers of magazines? There are a few things you may have blamed for your failure in the past: perhaps you thought it came down to the advice. Maybe you were following the wrong training program? Maybe your PT doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Or perhaps you have unfortunate genetics? Well, if you have read any of the other guides, then you will know that this is mistake number one: blaming outside factors is a surefire way to ensure that nothing ever changes.
In order to make a difference in your life, you need to start taking responsibility. That means developing an internal locus of control. And it is your fault. Here’s the harsh truth: even the worst training program in the world is going to make a difference if you stick with it. If you have the most unfortunate genetics and the only thing you change is to go for one run a week, or to eat one less snack a day; then you are still going to see some difference.
Sure, it is much better to have a good training program and to do your research. But in lieu of that anything will work. So, stop blaming other factors! The problem lies with you. But more specifically than that, the problem lies with your mindset. You possibly already guessed that from the title of this guide. So now let’s dive into the issue and see how you can change your thinking and change your results for the better.
Where the Mind Goes, the Body Follows
So, the biggest problem a lot of people have is this lack of responsibility. That, and a lack of conviction. Many people who claim to want to lose weight or build a toned, muscular body, will only really be interested if they can do so without actually putting in a huge amount of work. The irony is that they don’t even realize that this is how they feel!
The first sign that this is the case, is if you find yourself procrastinating.
How do you procrastinate when it comes to working out and getting into shape? Simple: you read. You spend ages reading about all the best workout programs, you read about all the different diets, you develop a fantastic plan, you join a gym and then you wait until the perfect opportunity when work is quiet and when you don’t have any other commitments and that is when you deign to begin your training.
But here’s the thing: there is never a perfect opportunity. Life doesn’t do perfectly. Life much prefers to be awkward and difficult and if you try to wait until everything is calm and nothing is in the way, well then you’re going to be waiting a very long time indeed! The whole reason that we do this, is so that we can feel like we’re making progress. Simply by determining that we are going to work out, we feel as though we’ve done something worthwhile.
And in fact, this even removes some of the pressure so that we no longer feel we have to make the effort! There are actually studies that demonstrate this. These studies specifically looked at whether or not we should tell people our goals when we set out do something worthwhile. Often, the advice you receive is that you should tell people goals: that doing so will make them concrete and real and will force you to stick with them.
How has that been working out for you so far? The reality according to the research is that telling people your goals actually releases some psychic tension. Telling people your goals makes you feel that ‘fitness’ is already a part of your personality. And as such, you actually don’t have to put in the real work! Ironically, telling people goals makes you less likely to accomplish them. If you want to tell someone your goals so that you will have a little bit of moral support and encouragement, then tell just one person your goal.
But otherwise, keep it to yourself. Think about that day when you take off your shirt at the beach and everyone sees your incredible six-pack for the first time. Let that motivate you! And to prevent the possibility of you looking for outside excuses as to why you aren’t in shape, it pays to hunt down the most effective and simple strategies to get into shape. That’s what we’re going to look at in the next section.
KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid
How do you lose weight through your diet? The problem is that the answer varies just so much depending on who you ask. Some people will tell you that the best way to lose weight is to start eating less. Count your calories and then make sure that you consume fewer calories than you burn. This way, you can maintain a deficit and be forced to burn fat stores.
Makes sense. But another blog will tell you something different. It might point out that counting calories is actually difficult to the point of being nearly impossible. And not only that, but it’s also boring and sure to put you off after a while. Worse, it says nothing of nutrition or appetite. If you just eat fewer calories, then technically you can lose weight by eating only donuts.
Which would also destroy your health and leave you hungry and malnourished. So, what do you do instead? According to this crowd, it’s more useful to focus on keeping your carbohydrate intake down. This will help you to prevent blood sugar spikes and will avoid ‘empty calories’ (if you avoid the processed, simple carbs). That way, you are getting only filling, nutritious and whole foods.
Great! Then there are the intermittent fasters and the low-fat crowd. No wonder you never managed to lose weight! The other issue is that almost all of these diets are complex, they are hard to follow and they are unsociable. They often involve spending large amounts of time in the kitchen cooking and they can get expensive. What is the most important part of any diet?
Simple: that you stick with it. There is actually no point in starting a diet unless you can sustain it indefinitely. If you start a diet and give up in two months, then you will put the weight back on! Okay, so let’s simplify. None of these diets is wrong. They all have good points. The problem is they go too extreme in one direction. As is so often the case, the ‘middle way’ is best.
In this case, the middle way means:
Trying to eat fewer processed, simple carbs. Avoid the obviously bad foods such as crisps, chocolate bars, ice cream and swap them for healthier things.
Eat less. Don’t be obsessive about counting calories and trying to work out what you need to eat every day, but just eat a little less than you normally would.
Don’t be afraid to go a little hungry. Sometimes the easiest way to eat significantly less is to drastically reduce one or two meals.
Find ways to fit your new diet into your routine.
One strategy that I highly recommend for losing weight, is to eat less at breakfast and less at lunch. These two meals make it much easier to cut down because they don’t tend to be social. While your dinner might be something you have with family in front of the TV, with your partner, or out with friends; lunch and breakfast tend to be eaten quickly around work and commuting.
Thus, you can eat more boring meals and you’ll be less likely to get tempted by the more indulgent options. Okay, so what about your training? This is a little more complex, seeing as the best kind of training will depend very much on your current physique and the type of body that you are interested in developing. You will likely train differently depending on whether you want to build muscle or tone down for instance.
That said, weightlifting is something that can benefit a huge number of people including women who want to get lean and toned. Muscle is metabolically active, meaning that when you become more toned, you actually burn more fat even when you are resting! The other useful thing to recognize is that when you tone your muscle, you can hide fat by pulling it in and you can even make your skin appear tauter.
Got stretch marks? Dieting isn’t actually what you need and neither is cardio it’s muscle tone that will hide this!
Doing a little cardio is important too though, for weight loss and for your general health. Now, you might be tempted by HIIT workouts. These are ‘High-Intensity Interval Training’ regimes that involve sprinting for short amounts of time and then alternating that with brief periods of rest.
The allure here is that it is reportedly very time-saving and very efficient. You can use this training to burn fat and increase your health in a fraction of the time. But at the same time, what many people miss is that this type of training is far harder than it is often made out to be. This takes a huge amount of willpower, dedication, and a basic level of fitness to begin with.
It is not the best option for most people starting out. Not only that, but running or swimming, etc. can actually yield benefits that other types of exercise simply can’t. So instead, I recommend starting jogging short distances, swimming or running. You can do this once or twice a week and combine it with a generally increased amount of physical exercise during your day.
Walking more is one of the easiest ways to start improving your health and fitness and burning more calories in a day.
The workout I specifically recommend is this:
PPL – Push, Pull, Legs (train pushing movements one day, pulling movements the next and legs the next all in the gym)
30 Minutes of Cardio
3 x Long Walks
Add this into your routine in the way that suits you. That’s three gym sessions, one cardio session, and a few long walks which can be tied in with your commute trips to the shops to get milk, etc. The most important aspect of your mindset here though? Making sure that you don’t overdo it. Whether dieting or working out, one of the biggest mistakes we tend to make is to try and get the change immediately.
This impatience is another aspect of our mindset that can prevent us from reaching our goals. People want to see their abs tomorrow, or this summer. They want to have massive biceps in a few weeks. Thus, they take up intense training programs because they want to feel like they are ‘doing something. So many people will begin running and try and go 10 miles or more in their first session. Or they’ll ‘only’ do five miles but they’ll run fast the whole time.
It’s painful, tiring, and exhausting. They come to the conclusion therefore that they ‘don’t like running. The reality is not that they have a problem with running but rather that they have started with too much too soon. The same thing happens in the gym. So instead what you should aim to do is to begin your training in a light and gentle way. Start out by just running 1 mile at a slow pace. In the gym, maybe just try a few different exercises on low weights. Do this for a while.
The aim is not to lose weight or build muscle in the first week. Not even in the first month. Your first aim should be to learn to enjoy the activity. Do it for you. Do it for fun. Over time, you’ll build up your health and fitness naturally as you do. It’s impossible not to do that. And as you do, you’ll find yourself running further and faster and lifting heavier as a result. But don’t rush it. Just enjoy it. Your MAIN goal is to make this a part of your life.
Goal Setting and Energy
And with that in mind, consider carefully the way that you are going to set goals. What too many people will do with their goal setting is to focus purely on a distant end result. Maybe they want abs by the time summer comes around. Maybe their goal is to lose 2lbs and fit into their dress. This is the wrong way to think about it though because it gives you much too much flexibility and means you can make excuses.
You might decide to take it easy tonight and to try harder tomorrow. It’s also too much out of your control, leaving plenty of excuses for you to make. So instead, I want you to make your goal simply to train every week. This is a goal that is immediate, in your control, and immediately rewarding. Every week, if you manage to train at least once (or twice, you set the parameters) then you have succeeded.
The abs, the dress, the biceps are not goals. This is the vision and this is what will motivate you to accomplish your goals. Finally, I want you to keep your energy in mind. Energy is finite and you only have so much of it. If work is leaving you exhausted and if your commute is stressful, then you aren’t going to have much energy at the end of the day to work out. So, conserve that energy and carefully consider the ways you can maintain it or increase it.
This is why nutrition is very important. It’s also why you need to make sure you are getting adequate sleep, giving yourself opportunities to rest, and generally making sure your life outside the gym is healthy and nourishing. If you are coming home every single day with absolutely no energy and you feel achy and stressed, then no manner of training program is going to help you.
Meditate, take holidays, use supplements and sleep more. And if none of that works then consider leaving your job for something less stressful. Ultimately, one of the biggest and most important aspects of having the right mindset is knowing how to prioritize. Your health and happiness should take priority. If you are never going to be in shape because of your work, learn to accept that and then leave your job. It might be the only way to get what you really want from life.