Try these 3 mindset tricks to tackle your fitness goals
You’ve got to win in your mind before you win in your life. — John Addison
EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER: Any advice or recommendation given in my writing is what works for ME and may not be the best regimen for you based on your psychological or physiological makeup and stability. Please consult a doctor when making decisions about your health.
Let me know if this sounds familiar.
When you first start a diet, you are highly motivated to lose as much weight as possible as quickly as possible.
Something probably happened that made you look at yourself in the mirror and say “this is it.” You are no longer going to live in a body that they aren’t happy with, and you have to do something to change this.
You start out doing everything perfectly to get your diet and fitness levels going and then BAM!
Something happens that gets you off track!
When things are laid out perfectly for you, there are no problems. However, if there are one or two things that become obstacles or are a little more challenging than you anticipated, you find your motivation waning.
First, you miss one day…then one week…then one month.
Next thing you know, you can’t remember the last time you went to the gym, and you are waiting for that next great thing to happen to motivate you again to give it another try.
Instead of waiting on some great moment of inspiration to finally commit to chasing after your fitness goals, here are three mindset shifts that you can adopt to create this motivation internally once and for all.
Write yourself a check for what you want and look at it regularly
The first tip that I’ve found extremely helpful to write down what you want on a check and put a date on when you’ll cash it. (Side note: You can also couple this with writing your goal every day if you want an additional boost.)
When I say write a check, I’m not talking about a physical dollar amount (unless that’s what you’re wanting to set as your goal). Instead, I’m talking about the specific goal you are shooting for.
You put your name in the “Pay to the Order of” line. The date that you want to hit it by on the date line, and then the actual goal on the “Dollars” line. I would also suggest to write your WHY in the “Memo” section to keep you focused on the reason it’s important for you to hit this goal.
Here’s an example of what it would look like for a fitness goal:
Now, each time you feel yourself deviating from doing what you said you were going to do, you should pull out the check and look at it and ask yourself if you are willing to give it up for whatever short term pleasure you are considering at the moment.
The science behind this is simple.
In a well known study by Dr. Gail Matthews from the Dominican University in California, individuals who physically wrote down their goals as opposed to only thinking about them were 42% more likely to achieve them.
If writing them down could have such a great impact, how much more would writing them and looking at them when needed have a bigger impact.
The science around this is similar to the effects of a vision board.
By consistently looking at it everyday, you are more inclined to take action to achieve the results, as opposed to writing it only once and forgetting it.
And while there are studies that are a bit inconclusive in the effects that vision boards can have on one’s ability to take action, I believe more in the effect on psychological incongruence and the stroop effect taking hold.
While physical incongruence is the psychology behind your mind rectifying the difference between your perceived self and ideal self, the stroop effect relates to how your mind has difficulty reading one stimulus (what the check says) if a second stimulus (your every day actions) is incongruent to it.
This basically means it will be hard for you to look at this check that you wrote to yourself but yet never do anything to work towards it.
Eventually, you’ll have to tear that check up or get your a** in gear and start doing something about it.
Refuse to listen to your Lesser-Self
Your lesser self is that voice in the back of your mind that always tells you it might be better to take the easy way out.
I published an article that outlined this in more detail, but the reader’s digest version is to recognize when your lesser self is attempting to negotiate with you and refuse to do so.
You can recognize this occurring when you commit to something in a moment of motivation that you know is going to be good for your future.
However, when rubber meets the road and you have to live up to the commitment, e.g., waking up at 5am, eating that salad instead of a burger, speaking up in that meeting, you find yourself coming up with a reason that you can’t do it.
This could be considered synonymous with the Freudian term known as your id. The id is that part of your human personality that is focused more on your primitive instincts than the long-term conscientious part of your brain.
This is your lesser self, and you have to ignore it if you are going to achieve your fitness goals.
Initially, it will seem hard, as your Lesser-Self typically is physiologically a natural part of who you are as a human.
However, as you ignore it and overcome it more and more, it becomes a habit that you come to expect of yourself because of the positive results you’ll experience from it.
Make it life or death
This last piece of advice may sound a bit morbid, but it could really be the difference between one’s success or failure.
From a statistics perspective, individuals who are told they have to stop smoking or they will die due to having full blown cancer have a 90% quit rate. This is over 1100% better than the quit ratio of individuals who typically try to quit smoking each year.
Considering how devastating obesity can be to one’s health, this could be much truer than just pretending. Obesity is only second to smoking as the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S.
Obesity kills one in 5 individuals between the ages of 40–85 in the U.S, and this is caused by the decisions that people make for their lives every day.
If you are able to think about this as you decide what to eat and whether to exercise, there is a greater chance that you will make the right decision for your future.
And while thinking about death is not always ideal for one to have a happy day, in this instance, at least it involves you doing so to make sure you’re doing everything in your power to prevent your premature one.