5 Quick ways to dramatically improve your mindset and smash your health goals
By Jerome Samaha
If you ask every personal trainer what separates those who get good results in the gym vs those who’s bodies never really change, the most common answer is mindset. The right mindset is a huge factor in determining whether you’ll hit your fitness goals or not. How we feel and how we think affects our actions. And our actions determine what we do in life.
Here’s what I’ve learned about mindset in 15 years of Personal Training and how you can quickly apply them quickly to get leaner, feel better and look good:
1) Willpower is like a muscle, it gets tired.
In Daniel Kahneman’s excellent book “Thinking Fast & Slow” he describes that humans have two modes of thought: "System 1" is fast, instinctive and emotional; whilst "System 2" is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. When we need to switch our brain on properly, we need to turn on our System 2 thinking, which only has finite energy. Yep, it gets tired and fatigues us.
So, have you ever noticed that after a hard days work you’re more likely to indulge in chocolate, alcohol, chips or ice cream? Or when you’re sleep deprived and stressed you have food blow outs? (I know from personal experience that when I slump on my couch on Friday night exhausted, I have almost no willpower to resist the Red Rock Deli chips from the Petrol Station across the road).
From now on, when you feel the temptation of a treat/drink or indulgence, notice your energy/stress levels. You’ll find that when you’re well rested and not too stressed that you’ll find it easier to make healthier food and drink decisions.
2) Stop bloody comparing.
Don’t compare your body shape to anybody else’s. That’s it. Full bloody stop. It’ll just make you miserable.
As a trainer I am always asked “How do I get arm’s like Sophie?” and “How can I get abs like Peter?”. On the surface I smile and say “Well, Jim. You shouldn’t compare your body to Peter’s. You should aim just improve yourself a little every day.” But deep down, I want to punch Jim in the face.
(Just joking everyone. I would never punch anyone. I love all my clients)
The health and fitness process takes time. Don’t try to rush it. Don’t try any fad diets or quick shortcuts.
Sometimes the process will be slower than you want, but keep going. You’ll have ups and you’ll have downs but never give up. One of my best clients weight loss looked like this for a long time:
Week 1: 800g lost
Week 2: 200g lost
Week 3: 300g gained
Week 4: 100g lost
Week 5: 200g gained
Week 6: 500g lost
It was up and down and sporadic. But guess what, over 1 year they lost over 20kgs! Over time they smashed it. It wasn’t perfect or linear, but neither is life.
So think long term. Think about how you want to be fit and lean forever, not just for the Wedding you have in 6 weeks.
4) Don’t beat yourself up
Even the fittest people miss the occasional workout and have a food blow out. It’s called being human. Not every day is perfect. So, if you have too many slices of pizza, a bag of chips or miss 2 days at the gym, get over it. Move on and restart tomorrow.
Accept that you’ll slip every now and then and forgive yourself. Remember all work and no play places Jack a dull boy. And what’s the point of having a hot body if you never go out and don’t have fun.
5) Join a Positive Community
The final point might come as a surprise but increasing studies are showing that people who are engaged in a community and relationships live longer than those who are alone and isolated. In the awesome book “Blue Zones” by Dan Buettner, he travels the world to find places where the population live much longer than the average. There are regions in the world, such as Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica) and Icaria (Grecce) that the populations live healthier and longer than others. It’s not uncommon for people in these areas to live healthily beyond 100 years old.
The findings in his study is that there are a few characteristics that these “Blue Zones” have that cause such happy and healthy lives and the number one thing they all had in common was the presence of a “Community” and being socially active/integrated in that community. These super healthy people were engaged in family life, social life and put this ahead of other concerns.
(For those who are interested, other characteristics of these “Blue Zones” include: moderate, regular physical activity, low stress, lower calorie intake, plant based diets and moderate alcohol, especially wine).
The study of Longevity is one that is more prevalent these days and if you did a quick one minute Google search you’ll see countless articles on how being an active part of a community is no longer just a theory, it’s been proven.
Whether it’s family, friends, a local sporting team, a book club, or even a really cool gym community (nudge nudge wink wink), you’ll have a healthier, longer life but cultivating a good community around you.
Now it wouldn’t be a Jerome article without a Dad Joke. So here goes….
Marriage is like a Card Game. At first you have 2 hearts and a Diamond but by the end all you want is a Club and a Spade!