Today I want to discuss 8-life changing fitness mindsets that we can start adopting today. These mindsets range from setting goals and visualizing our success, remaining a student (having a growth mindset), studying the successes of our biggest fitness inspirations, having a positive (and winning) support system, and more. The mindsets in this post can benefit all areas of our lives. This post, however, is mainly about how these mindsets can benefit our success in fitness. These mindsets have helped me on my fitness journey. Along my 7 year transformation from sedentary/unfit to fit, I learnt many lessons, some of which are personal and others acquired, I wish to share them with you!
Mindset 1: Set Goals, Then Visualize Your Success
The first fitness mindset that I want to share with you is to first, set clear goals. Make these goals as big and challenging as you want, from this point, we break our fitness goals down into small actionable steps. Another tip for goal-setting is to follow the SMART principle. Make sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. The benefits of goal-setting also extend to allowing us to enter a flow-state, flow is “the mental state in which a person performing some activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity.”
Why this may be the case is because goal-setting utilizes our frontal lobe, we become less reflexive/automatic, we can now transcend the robotic routine and enter flow. Goal-setting also makes visualization easier as we can now work towards achieving a specific outcome. Visualization helps performance in trained athletes and can help achieve whatever fitness goals your heart desires. Check out my previous post on the different types of fitness goals and goal-setting/visualization to help accelerate your understanding of this subject!
Try this quick visualization exercise:
Sit or lay down, take three to five long inhales followed by three to five long exhales.
Start visualizing the goal you want to reach most in your mind, attach an emotion to it. Make sure that you see it as vividly as possible. Imagine how you feel when you have it, attach an emotion to it. (Ie: once I have my fit body, I will feel confident!) Start intensifying the emotion! You can end the meditation after at least a few minutes of this visualization.
Start feeling this emotion in your daily life, act like you already have a fit body whilst following your daily actionable steps of getting to your goal!
Keep a daily or weekly visualization practice to help get to your goal quicker and more effectively!
Mindset 2: Remain a student in your own fitness journey
There are several reasons why remaining a student throughout our own fitness journey is important. Firstly, one cannot never know too much nor know everything there is to know. Just as life is a journey of self-knowledge, fitness is it’s own journey which we can both learn and grow from. It is important to also seek out experts/teachers to enlighten this process for us. Another way of doing this is by having a growth mindset. A growth mindset is a term coined by Carol Dweck, “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” ( Dweck, 2015) Having a growth mindset allows us to remain open to new knowledge and this can certainly do us more good than harm.
Two other ways to embrace a growth mindset are by adopting the words “yet”. This changes the framework so that we can eventually become successful instead of success being framed as something that innately fixed. Success in fitness certainly is not fixed by genetic predisposition or anything of that sort, we can always learn and grow based on our own strengths/weaknesses. Another way of framing fitness as a growth mindset in our own minds is by removing the idea of perfection and end goals. One must learn to embrace imperfection as being part of the process, this means trying a few more times after failing or finding some other type of workout that we enjoy more after years of doing a sport that we did not enjoy! We then come to view our fitness journey as full of ups and downs and remove having an unrealistic outcome-based/perfectionist outlook.
Mindset 3: Study the success of your biggest fitness inspirations, focus on their steps
What do the days of your fitness inspirations/idols look like?
What do they do at the gym?
How do they eat/rest/train?
Study these steps and incorporate them into your own fitness lifestyle. An important nuance is that you want to copy their general habits while tweaking and managing your expectations in a realistic way. This means that we must remember that if we follow our biggest fitness inspiration’s diet/training, our own genetics will always determine the outcome.
Try to look out for the following things:
–How long have they been training for? Did it take your inspiration 5,10 or 15 years to achieve their physiques? This can give us a realistic assessment of how long it will take for us to achieve our own physiques. Bear in mind that genetics/supplements may have accelerated this process for them.
-Look out for things like intensity, training style, volume but focus mainly on things like consistency, mindset, training philosophy or even some advice posted on their social media accounts. This should all be assessed critically and we are never trying to copy them with the intent of having their physiques/performance, we are trying to find the steps that have led to their success!
-What about their social lives, sacrifices/adversity, life circumstances, diet, these are also important things to look out for. Try to break down your findings into habits and you will find the habits that will lead to your success. Remember, your idols/inspiration are no different than you! As you can see from doing this exercise, they are merely more experienced in this field than you are!
Mindset 4: Have a support system that consists of people who want to see you win!
Not everybody will want you to be your fittest best self. This is something that I myself have learnt, a simple truth is that your successes will sometimes reflect back to people their own inadequacies/fears/failures. You therefore have to ignore these people and focus on surrounding yourself with positive,like-minded ambitious people like yourself! Surround yourself with other fit people, people who are intimidatingly fit or ambitious in other areas who”get it” and get following some fitness influencers/content-creators. Two important points, one is that we ultimately become what we expose ourselves to/consume. The other is that by exposing ourselves with fitness content on a regular basis (ie: watching fitness motivation videos on Youtube) we set ourselves up for success.
Have your circle hold you accountable. If your circle only consists of yourself at the moment, then surround yourself with fitness experts on social media, make sure to follow these types of accounts and you will yourself inspire in a similar way to being around them. A small caveat to this method is to make sure that your fitness expert has your best interest at heart, both female and male fitness influencers can be misleading both out of ignorance/in order to generate an income. Your influencers have to know what they are doing/talking about!
Tip: A good way to be a critical consumer of media is to ask yourself what the agenda of this person could possibly be, specifically, does this person have my best interest at heart? Why or why not?
Mindset 5: Hold yourself accountable
Accountability is an important virtue to foster in fitness and in life. Accountability refers to our willingness to hold ourselves responsible for the outcomes in our lives thus far. We also are willing to acknowledge areas where we have failed and are willing to take personal responsibility for those failures instead of blaming others. This is an important virtue to have in fitness because it is only by being willing to hold ourselves accountable where we are able to make meaningful and lasting changes to our lifestyles.
The inverse of someone who holds themselves accountable is an individual who lacks two useful life traits: 1) an inner locus of control 2) a healthy sense of self. Fitness in general does help cultivate these two traits, so it works both ways! Regardless, here are three proven ways that you can start holding yourself accountable in your fitness journey:
1)Keeping a journal (tracking fitness progress and/or nutrition)
2) Taking before and after pictures
3) Measuring ourselves (using tape/calipers,etc)
Holding ourselves accountable using the techniques above can help us in the following ways:
We start to be aware of what is and what isn’t working and tweak accordingly. For instance, if we do not see progress with our training over time, we can look at our training journal and see how our training is leading our progress to halt. If, however, our training is paying off, we can see how adding more weights or reps every week has resulted in an increase in gains. Having visual evidence helps to see if what we are doing at the gym and at home is working or not. Measurements are objective proof of our success or not, they’re a great way of adjusting our programs and expectations!
Mindset 6: Prioritize discipline over motivation
“Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day.” -Jim Rohn
The next mindset that is on this list is the idea of cultivating discipline over motivation. Motivation is emotion-based, it is a byproduct of force (which is what discipline essentially is). Discipline is “doing it”, adding a time-component to discipline, it’s putting tomorrow’s wants before today’s wants. If we are to look at every successful person that we know and break down their days into habits, we find that their success is merely in repeating these habits over time. Do they always feel motivated before doing them? We can’t know that, but one thing we do know for certain is that after doing one small act in our favor, we start feeling motivated to do more. Success breeds success after all so don’t aim to find the motivation to climb the entire mountain, rather, force yourself to take just one step forward.
Trust that it is only by doing so that you’ll generate the emotions both required and desired in your quest to climb the entire mountain. Seeing as though discipline is a force whereas motivation is an outcome of that force, we can generate force by simply doing one thing that gets us closer to our goals each day. It doesn’t have to be a big step, let it be one small step. If I want to work out every day of the week and my baseline is sedentary, even if I do generate enough force for that one hour workout, I am not setting myself optimally for long-term success. It is not because that workout is not going to be effective, it is and definitely beats staying on the couch. It is because what we are looking for is sustainable habits over time.
Instead of aiming for a drastic lifestyle change, try 10-15 minutes workouts in 4 increments throughout the day, or go to gym daily. Actions normally become habits after 28-30 days. This is the idea behind the “30-day fitness challenges”, so give yourself that much time before your fitness habit becomes reflexive.
Mindset 7: Aim to be consistent over being perfect
“Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” – Dwayne Johnson
This mindset relates back to cultivating a growth mindset. We do not expect ourselves to be perfect in other areas of our lives, fitness is the exact same game. We must put our energy into trying to get better at the right things vs. the useless ones. Consistency is going to yield more success than aiming for perfection ever will. Perfection is a myth, anyway. Consistency looks like showing up to your training sessions and sticking to your nutrition. While you are not always going to be perfect, staying consistent over x,y,z years will create the outcome you want.
Mindset 8: Compare yourself to nobody, aim to improve daily
“The only person you should try to be better than is who you were yesterday.” – Unknown
Comparing yourself to others will only make you lose, we tend to highlight other people’s strengths and successes at the expense of seeing our own. Comparing ourselves to only ourselves assures that we make continuous progress throughout our fitness journeys. We should aim to improve daily, whether that be with our strength/performance goals or aesthetic and lifestyle ones. In conclusion, being successful in fitness can be achieved by anybody! Just like achieving anything in life, having a fit lifestyle/becoming our best selves can be boiled down to goal-setting, remaining a student (having a growth mindset), studying the successes of our idols, having a positive social circle (or surrounding yourself with fitness-experts/inspirations), holding ourselves accountable, prioritizing discipline over motivation and stopping comparing ourselves to other people.
I hope that you enjoyed this post on 8-life changing fitness mindsets, please let me know what you thought about it in the comments section below!