I’ve worked too hard and too long to let anything stand in the way of my goals.
Your mindset dictates the way you feel about your choices. Are you happy to diet or do you only do it “because you have to”? Are you happy to work out or is it a chore?
If you believe a certain truth, then you will behave accordingly. So, if you switch from a truth that doesn’t serve you to one that aligns with your goals, you are setting yourself up for success.
The three tips in this article can help you reframe your fitness decisions so that you can achieve your objectives and enjoy yourself in the process.
As a side note, when I was first brainstorming ideas for the piece, I thought to use the festive period for context, but in hindsight this advice can apply to your lifestyle as a whole.
1. Fitness is a choice, not a chore.
Unless you have severe health complications arising from overweight or obesity, in which case your doctor might encourage you to exercise, then no one is forcing us to pursue a fitness goal. So let’s not act like that’s the case.
When we tell ourselves “I have to diet” or “I have to work out,” we are framing fitness in a negative way. As a result, carrying out any activity related to losing fat, gaining muscle or working out will seem like a grind.
We expect the fastest rate of progress possible – which is usually unrealistic – not because we are looking forward to our success, but because we can’t wait to stop doing what we are doing to get there.
Every time progress slows down or plateaus becomes an excuse to throw our hands in the air, sigh, and tell ourselves, “I’ve failed again. Might as well [insert goal-inappropriate action here]!”
In this scenario, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to fall in love with the process. Not only that, but we also forget how accomplishing the ultimate goal will make us feel.
It is therefore inevitable to become more and more obsessed with the “here and now,” for example the food we eat every day, which brings me to the next point.
2. Food isn’t a big deal.
One of the main reasons why we may “blow up” our diet over Christmas and New Year’s is that we want to eat and drink “fun foods.”
Especially when we have already been dieting for some time, we may feel like we “deserve” not only a slice of cake or two on Christmas day, but a whole feast for the entire week from December 24th to January 1st.
Moreover, we become bitter about our diet and spend half of our social gatherings casting lustful glances at the “bad” foods we aren’t supposed to eat, and the other half sneaking handfuls of pretzels into our mouth when no one is looking.
However, food is only a big deal if we make it one.
Instead of pining after pudding, we can choose to focus our efforts on friends and family: have meaningful conversations, play games, take photos together, and so on.
We are still going to eat Christmas dinner, but we will make different choices to what we were used to, because now we have different goals.
Unfortunately, loved ones don’t always make it easy. Not everyone understands our passion and commitment.
I can’t remember how many times I’ve been asked by a wide-eyed friend or relative: “Are you really skipping dessert?” Or told, “One cookie won’t kill you!”
In the past, I would feel self-conscious and stay quiet, but more recently I have started to keep my head high and answer these comments. For instance, the last time someone asked why I wouldn’t have dessert, I replied, polite but firm, “Because I care more about my goals than about dessert.”
Those who love us will respect our choices and even admire them, even if they don’t understand what motivates us.
When making goal-appropriate nutritional choices becomes a habit, we will be able to switch our attention away from food. At the same time, making a conscious effort to switch our attention away from food will help us strengthen the habit of making these goal-appropriate choices.
So, though hard at first, these actions can merge into a powerful self-perpetuating cycle.
3. You deserve fitness.
This relates to Number #1 and is yet another way of reframing our efforts.
We deserve to lose fat, put on muscle, and attain the health benefits and athletic physique that we wish for. If we deserve the outcome, then we also deserve the process.
For fat loss, this process entails staying in a calorie deficit for a number of weeks and engaging in regular resistance training and, if necessary or desirable, cardiovascular exercise. For muscle gain, it entails much of the same, only you are in a calorie surplus and perhaps doing a little less cardio.
However, reading this article may well not convince you right away that you deserve to follow your diet and keep up with your training program.
Beliefs are like any other habit. We practise certain ones so often and for so long that they become automatic. On the other hand, new beliefs require training.
So, cheesy as it may sound, practising the thought “I deserve to diet” on a regular basis will eventually enable us to replace the current go-to thought “I have to diet.”
Reframing fitness can take longer and be harder to do than following practical tips. However, you need to make a conscious choice every time you want to follow a tip.
On the other hand, once your new frame of mind takes hold, it will last you a lifetime.
In Future Episodes:
The blog is taking a break for Christmas and New Year’s. The first article of 2020 will explore some strategies on how to get back into the gym if you had a layoff during the holidays.
Have you ever experienced any of the issues described? How did you reframe fitness to make it work for you?
A personal trainer who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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