The mindset gym - how to think yourself fitter
You can’t scroll Instagram for more than a few seconds without stumbling upon posts featuring the latest protein oats recipe, information on carb loading or a HIIT workout designed by a celebrity. There are thousands of personal trainers, nutritionists and body transformation coaches providing a wealth of information everywhere you turn. We are flooded with guidance on what to eat, what not to eat, how to go vegan, how to train, how to fast and what to wear. What we don’t see as often is how we should think, act and behave.
I’ve noticed on my own journey to learn, a journey that has taken me from being eight stone overweight to British champion and UK record holder in kettlebell sport half marathon, that there isn’t a great deal of information about mindset. Personally, I believe fostering a positive mindset is as critical as the food we eat and the amount we move. A daily trip to the mindset gym can work wonders for you.
Here are my top tips to keep the mindset muscles in peak condition.
6 tips to 'think yourself fitter'
1. Believe it until you become it
Our brain can’t tell the difference between what happens in our reality and what we imagine happening with emotional intensity. If you can act as if you are a super fit, green juice drinking leanie, a marathon runner or a gold medallist, even if you are not, you are more likely to steam ahead on the journey to becoming one. Think, act and behave like an athlete. It’s the fake it till you make it a principle that sees us focus on what we want to happen rather than what we don’t want and it’s powerful.
2. Tell yourself you can
We are brilliant at telling ourselves we can’t do things as we allow ourselves to be led by the conscious mind, the home of our inner critic. This inner voice never wants us to step out of our comfort zone. We may attempt to override the ‘I can’t’ mentality by using the popular motto ‘I can and I will’ but the ‘I will’ element isn’t definite enough. It feels like it’s an intention rather than an action and it’s, therefore, something that can be done or not done. Instead, opt for wonder-words, ‘I can, and I am’ suggesting action is already taking place. We are telling ourselves whatever we want to do is happening. I use the term ‘I can, and I am’ repeatedly every day. It is the phrase that saw me throw myself off a 10-metre platform into freezing water during an obstacle course race despite a fear of water and inability to swim. It’s the same phrase that got me through swimming lessons at the age of 40 having realised just how fearful of water I was. It a phrase that packs a real power punch so take it, use it and see what it can do for you.
3. Value your commitment to you
How often do you bomb out on the arrangements you make with yourself? You decide you’ll go for a run in the morning and when the time comes you stay under the duvet instead. It could be your plan to start a new healthy eating regime and then conveniently forget and opt for a drive-through takeaway on the way home. If you had an appointment with the dentist, your children’s school or a hairdresser, you wouldn’t cancel on the day without a very good reason. And so, treat yourself with the same respect. Value your time and how you use it and don’t give up on yourself. You deserve more than that.
4. Avoid the comparison trap
An apple will never look, taste or smell the same as a banana so if you are a 40-year old male with a 5k pace of 6kmph there is no point comparing your performance with an 18-year-old male who runs at a pace of 4.5kmph. It’s not a like for like comparison and will only serve to make you feel inferior. Instead, focus your effort on comparing you today with the you you’d like to be tomorrow. Identify the gap and work out how to close it, before making it happen.
5. Be accountable
Every time you miss a rep of the weights or secretly eat a Mars bar or three on the way home from the gym, blowing your calorie deficit, it’s only you that you are hurting. It’s your journey you are slowing down and it’s your goals that will take longer to meet. Accept that the buck stops with you and you can make choices that will help you succeed or ones that hold you back. Consider this before you make your decision and remember you are in control.
6. Shake your pom poms
Always celebrate your successes, however small they may seem. It’s easy to focus on how far there is to travel and fail to look back at how far you’ve come. Be your own cheerleader, grab your imaginary pom poms and thrash out a victory dance. This act of self-care will encourage you to see your own validation as the highest honour and it’s a sure-fire way to build great self-esteem.