Updated: Apr 21, 2022
Two Of The Most Commonly Held, Dream Killing, Fitness Mindset Myths and the one Simple Mindset Shift That Makes Getting the Fitness Results You’ve Always Wanted Easy And Fun
Have you ever seen the guy who shows up to the gym in his full fitness uniform complete with bag of supplements, ear pods blaring, and a face that says “I’m determined”? He's got a plan and his intention is to stick with it and make it work. Everything about him says no one and no thing is going to stand in his way and stop him from making amazing things happen.
And two months later, he's nowhere to be found.
The truth is, for every 100 of these "pumped up" guys and gals that show up, maybe... just maybe, one of them sticks around long enough to actually change their health and fitness significantly.
Why do so many come and go? Why do they disappear before they can succeed? What happens?
Is it because they didn’t have enough time, money or the proper equipment?
Nope. It’s never about those things.
Well, maybe they just didn’t have the right plan.
Actually, even a bad plan, applied the right way, will correct itself as you go, so, no, it’s not about the plan.
And before you start thinking that it’s a lack of determination, I’m going to tell you that it’s not that either.
When you get down to it, the real answers to why we get pumped up about changing our health and fitness only to see our efforts fade and disappear are quite surprising.
I think that I can get you to agree that time, money, equipment and even the plan are never really the things that are truly holding us back if we want it badly enough. But, you may have a little harder time accepting that a lack of determination is not the problem either.
The truth is, determination, gutting it out, grinding, however you refer to it, only plays a small role in the fitness mindset that produces success. Yes, without determination you don’t stand a chance but, the fact is, it still isn’t enough.
If you think, or have thought, you failed at fitness in the past because of a lack of determination, you need to keep reading. Counting on determination to be the final piece of the puzzle to your fitness success is going to let you down and unless you understand why, you are doomed to a life of short-lived fitness attempts that end too quickly for you to ever get the results you truly want.
Fitness Mindset Myth #1: A Successful Fitness Mindset Is All About Determination And Hard Work
Thinking that a successful Fitness Mindset is about having the determination to pump ourselves up so we can stop doing all the things we love and start doing a bunch of hard work we don’t like, is a myth.
This myth, although spread thoroughly, couldn't be further from the truth.
A quick inspection of the successful, "lifers", in the fitness space will reveal that these people are not doing things that they hate. They are enjoying their lives exercising and eating the foods they do. Are they doing work? Yes. Are they consistently doing this work? Yes.
But, in the grand scheme of things, working hard and being consistent is beside the point. It's just a side effect to a fitness mindset that even most people who achieve high levels of fitness don't understand and cannot explain.
Yes, I said even THEY don’t understand what they are really doing to achieve their success. And because they don’t understand what they are really doing, they become one of the biggest “spreaders” of Fitness Mindset Myth #1.
Just ask them or check them out on social media and you will see what I mean. More often than not, they will end up telling you about, or showing you all the "difficult" things they do that others are unwilling or too lazy to do. They will tell you how hard and long their workouts are and how disciplined they are with their meal plans. They will leave you believing that they are better than you and others who struggle to be fit at doing hard things for long periods of time.
All this misunderstanding and misinformation plays a major role in why fitness is such a grind for most people and this is why, if you’ve fallen victim to Fitness Myth #1, that it’s not your fault.
Here’s the truth.
Getting yourself pumped up so that you can grind it out (will power) is a limited power we possess and we can't keep it up long enough to get the results we really want. Period.
No one has ever done it this way and no one will.
We, as humans, never look forward to things that are going to be extremely uncomfortable for long periods of time. And, more than that, we can only do things that are extremely uncomfortable for short periods of time before we stop doing them. This is not only true for you, it's true for the person with the successful fitness mindset too. It’s true for all of us because we are humans.
Here’s how to fix it.
A successful Fitness Mindset must have something built into it that you really want.
To explain this better and dispel this myth, let's look back to what you did when you were a kid. When you were little and you wanted to learn something new (and you really learned a lot of new things when you first came into this world, from crawling to walking to running and on to language etc. etc.), you got an idea, an image, in your head that you liked and you practiced it over and over.
Because you really liked the idea of getting better at the thing. You may even say that you loved the idea of getting better.
Now, some may argue that you worked hard, but to you, was it hard work… really?
It may have been a lot of work, but still, ask yourself if you ever remember it being “hard” work.
I think you’ll find the answer is no, it wasn’t hard.
For the most part, it was fun so you did it a lot. You didn’t look at it as something you had to do, instead, you looked at it as something you GOT to do. Whether it was getting better at riding your bike or playing baseball or climbing trees or playing a video game, you did it every chance you got because you wanted to.
As humans, what keeps us moving in our lives are images that we have high emotion for. More specifically, images representing change and the emotions we have for those images, if they feel good, causes us to want to take action toward making that change.
If these emotions feel bad, it will cause us to want to stop doing what we are doing and seek something else that makes us feel better. We're always trying to move ourselves away from pain and toward something we consider more pleasurable.
So when we attach the feelings of grinding, hard work and doing things we don't like, to our health and fitness journey, we’ve created a fitness mindset that will motivate us to stop our fitness so that we can start doing something that brings us more pleasure.
Ask yourself: Do you have any of the same positive feelings about improving your health and fitness as you did when you were a kid and wanted to get better at something?
If your answer is "no", don't beat yourself up. You just didn't know, it’s not your fault, and you are not alone. Almost everyone misunderstands this and it’s the main reason why we see hundreds of “pumped up” guys and gals come and go, even though they were determined to succeed.
I too fell victim to this “grinding” fitness myth and it caused me to struggle for years. Not only in my own fitness journey, but also, many years later, as I worked to help people in my personal training business.
In my fitness journey, it took me three years and nearly working myself to death while getting almost no fitness results before my real fitness mindset shift was made.
Before my fitness mindset shift, I was broken, out of will power and ready to give up.
After my shift, I had energy, enjoyed the journey and I got the fitness results I wanted and more.
However, without really knowing what I'd done, I struggled for many more years to produce the same results in the people that I worked with in my personal training business.
This led me on many trips back to the drawing board to try and figure it out.
When the idea of fitness initially entered my mind I was just 15 years old. I wanted to end the low opinion I had of myself as a lazy, skinny, and weak person. I felt that people with tone and fit bodies were respected and I liked the idea of being muscular and strong.
So I jumped up and decided that I would workout until I got the type of response from the world I wanted. I knew very little about fitness but I'd already accepted the idea that the person who works the hardest in fitness would always win (Fitness Myth #1). So I decided that I would quietly work my ass off so I could have the body I wanted.
Much like the guy I described in the opening of this article. I was determined.
I worked out every day until I was completely beat. I did essentially the same workout every day and after that I ran as long as I could. I even ran in the sandy, dry riverbed that was close to my home, on extremely hot days sometimes for an hour or more.
Until one day, I’d had it, I was at my wit’s end and I was about to quit.
It was time for me to go running and I just didn't want to do it. I was tired and I was achy, but mostly, I was just burned out.
But I believed that if I didn't keep working as hard as possible, there would be no way I could have the fitness results that I wanted.
So I asked myself a question...
"Why do you not want to run?"
The answer actually surprised me.
Yes running was fatiguing and yes it was a challenge, but that wasn’t what I was dreading the most. I was dreading how angry I got when I ran. Yes, angry.
I became extremely angry because of the conversation I would have with myself while I ran.
I would start running and the moment I would start to feel fatigue and need to push myself to keep going I would ask the question "Why are you doing this?", and that would start it all.
Thoughts of people seeing me struggling for so long and getting no results would catch me and I would feel stupid. In my mind, I would argue against these things and that would bring me back to looking at my lack of results and all the effort and time I was putting into this and how it all seemed dumb and embarassing.
Round and round this conversation would go in my head as I ran and I couldn’t win this argument no matter how hard I tried. It infuriated me.
I realized I didn’t hate running, I didn’t hate the work. It was the negative conversation and thoughts I had that I dreaded the most.
So, I thought, could I change this internal conversation so that it would be easier for me to keep working and maybe, just maybe I could still get what I wanted? Maybe.
Well, I knew for sure I could change the conversation. After all, I was just talking to myself, mostly in my head, so changing this should be fairly easy.
I thought, what would I LIKE to talk to myself about while I ran?
All I could think about was having the physique I wanted. This was why I started all this in the first place. I wanted to feel better about myself and my body. Could I imagine having all these things I wanted instead of the negative conversation about not having the things I wanted?
Yes, I could.
Now for the real test. Would this seemingly silly little idea be enough to keep me working, or at least, would it be enough to help me run on this particular day?
I wouldn't really know unless I tried. So I tried it that day and it felt good and I ran and I was happier. Go figure. So simple and I felt like I was back on track.
Unknowingly, my fitness mindset shift was made. This new and better conversation with myself worked so well, and I enjoyed it so much that I had this positive conversation every time I ran and sometimes I even did it when I was not running.
Three months after making this simple shift I had the physique I wanted.
An additional 3 months beyond that (yes, a grand total of 6 months) and I had a physique way beyond what I thought possible for me.
How could it be that after three years of beating myself senseless, all of the sudden, in a short amount of time, I had what I wanted?
As I looked back, trying to figure it all out many years later, these were some of the amazing things I could see that happened to me in that short period of time.
Which leads us to fitness mindset myth #2.
Myth 2: You know exactly how your fitness journey is going to go
You don't. You THINK you know how it’s going to go, but you don’t.
Let's look at what happened to me.
First, I was moved to start going to the gym on occasion. Before, I didn’t want to go to the gym because I thought it was a waste of time and money when you could just work really hard at home.
Not any more. These positive conversations I was having with myself were changing me. I was now more open to the idea of working out in new places and I would go to a gym and workout there when I could.
Second, I was moved to talk to more people about what I was doing. The feeling that I wanted to hide away and go at it alone was being replaced with a feeling of wanting to learn more and better ways to exercise.
One day on a sporadic gym visit, I decided to speak to a personal trainer who happened to walk in the gym while I was there.
The old me would have never spoken to a trainer because I thought using a trainer to reach your goals was a waste of money and just plain foolish stuff for lazy people.
When I spoke to the trainer, I told him what I was doing. I was still proud of all my hard work and I kinda wanted to show it off to him. He immediately told me that I was overtraining and I needed to remove much of the excess work I was doing. This blew my mind!!
Turns out he was an amazing trainer who worked around the Hollywood area and had worked with quite a few celebrities. He had achieved very extreme levels of fitness himself in competitions and maintained great health and fitness in his day to day life.
I would have never accepted his idea of cutting back the work I was doing because it was completely contrary to the belief I still had about fitness being all about determination and work. But he was kind enough to put me through a workout right then and there. I saw first hand how effective his training was. He not only told me why it was important for me to train this way, he showed me and I accepted this new training system.
He also gave me some ideas on better nutrition which I accepted as well.
This new way of training and feeding my body allowed my body the time and fuel it needed to recover, get stronger and ultimately, turn into the physique I’d always wanted. And that’s exactly what it did.
Here’s another very significant thing that happened to me.
Another day while at the gym, I met one of the greatest workout partners I've ever had.
This person was actually someone I grew up with but never thought I would workout with. But, one day while talking with him, he told me that he needed a partner to help him with his martial arts training and promised that if I helped him, he would never miss training at the gym with me.
He kept his word and never missed workouts and I kept mine and never missed martial arts trainings. I had accountability with someone who was just as focused as I was. (Interestingly, later, I discovered that the type of physique his particular martial arts produced was exactly the physique I'd always wanted.)
These were just a few of the things that happened to me on my journey.
As I ran my personal training business, I attracted many clients because of the results I had achieved, but it was rare that I produced the same results in my clients. This always bothered me because I felt it was my responsibility to help them succeed, just as I had.
Time and time again I would ask myself what I’d done and how it was different from what my clients were doing.
My steps to fitness success:
Started going to the gym
Talked to a trainer
Reduced my training
Changed my nutrition
Got a workout partner
Trained in martial arts
I couldn’t just apply all these steps to a client and it seemed plain silly to even think about trying. By the way, there were plenty of people out there who got amazing fitness results and they didn’t use any of these “steps”. At this point in my life, I didn’t follow many of these steps either. My workout partner and I no longer trained together, I no longer trained in martial arts and I rarely went to the gym because I preferred to workout at home. But I was still in great shape.
I realized that you could chalk all the great changes that happened to me up to luck and there was no discernable step by step method that I could put together there that I could share.
What was it that I was still doing to get my good fitness results?
And just like that, one day it hit me… It was the very same thing I did in the beginning that caused my shift and started it all.
The internal conversation I had with myself. I still thought that way about my health and fitness. The only difference was that I no longer knew that I was doing it because this positive conversation had become a natural habit for me years ago. Now I just thought of myself as a healthy and fit person and I never questioned it.
I realized that if I had never changed my conversation with myself, while I ran, I would have never changed and thus, never experienced any of these “steps” that led me to my success.
I simply wouldn’t have been open to the changes that made all the difference for me and I wouldn’t have taken action toward them because I would have still been focused on what I didn’t like or want… the grinding, hard work.
And that was what was happening with my clients. They gave up and quit. No matter how well designed their program was or how great the nutritional advice was that I had given them, it didn’t work because they quit.
I finally realized that that was the one commonality of it all and the base of what a successful Fitness Mindset really was and was not. Right there in the two conversations. One was defeating, negative and focused on all the things I didn’t want and the other was uplifting, positive and focused on something I wanted. One motivated to quit and the other motivated to keep going and be open to all the possibilities of success.
We're all following a belief that is really controlling the actions we take, the things we see and the results we experience and if you want a Fitness Mindset that serves you, you had better be painting a picture of yourself as successful as you want to be while doing things you enjoy.
You see, most people easily buy into the idea that they've got to develop this amazing will power or eat crappy tasting foods and work to death, because there’s a lot of information out there that validates this, but the fitness mindset that will produce the lifelong, amazing results you really want has nothing to do with any of these things.
Doing the work, finding your way, and staying consistent are all just side effects to one thing.
Love... Yes you heard me right. Love. Focusing on something you love as your main motivation for doing the things you do.
When you learn how to fall in love with the idea of you being as successful as you want in your health and fitness endeavors your path will be shown and you will want to take it.
You will no longer feel as though you are grinding because every opportunity to do the activities that produce the results you want is an opportunity to live the life you want.
Instead of focusing on what is going to be missing from your life, shift your focus to what you are gaining. See yourself performing your activities successfully and happily instead of in pain and exhausted.
See the people in your life receiving you the way you want to be received and always stay open to learning more because you DON’T know how your journey is going to go. You only know that you are going to love it.
Learn to do this and you will have developed the fitness mindset that will serve you for the rest of your life.
When in doubt, think back to what you did as a kid. Back before you bought into the idea that life had to be hard and you could fail. Move forward with the same enthusiasm you had in your youth, seizing every opportunity to live the life you want the way you want.
And then go do it NOW! Don’t wait. Do it every chance you get.
Your love for what you are doing will serve you indefinitely. Much longer than will power, grinding it out and determination. It will be the driver for you to do what appears to others as hard and consistent work.
But you will know the truth… that the work you are doing is really just you, living the life you want.
Create your successful Fitness Mindset this way and you can expect your journey to become a fascinating journey, constantly unfolding new discoveries that bring you more and more joy and all the amazing results you could ever dream of and more.
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