Without even realising it, most of us have a set of beliefs about what we think we’re capable of doing. If these beliefs are positive, such as ‘I can get that promotion’, and ‘I can lose weight’, then they’re drivers for positive change. But if they’re negative, such as ‘I never have time for exercise’ and ‘I’ll never get to where I want to be’, then they can be destructive. A limiting mindset can range from being uncomfortable doing something to being a very real barrier to ever achieving your goal.
The mind is a powerful tool so, by believing the negative statements, we are self-limiting in the most profound ways, keeping us rooted in the past and unable to achieve our full potential. I’ve seen this in clients over the years who have told me that they’d abandoned exercise after feeling useless in PE at school, or that they didn’t think they’d ever be able to lose weight because everyone in their family is overweight. Some of my ladies have also said that they feel too big, too unfit, or that people will look at them when they exercise. These sorts of thoughts can lead to emotional constraints such as anxiety, worry or fear.
As humans, we also want to demonstrate our competence when performing a skill or a task, so if you think you’re not going to be able to do something, you’re less likely to either start, or to stick to it. Good examples are the clients I mentioned above, who had each decided on a failure outcome for exercising and, as a result, hadn’t attempted it. They have all gone on to achieve amazing results by putting aside their negativity and believing in themselves.
So, how do you turn a negative mindset into a positive one? The most important way is to identify how you can demonstrate competence and, for beginners to exercise, the trick is to simply start. For example, if you want to run, go out for a run – start slowly, walk between your running if you need to, and don’t worry about time or distance, just run.
Here are 5 More Tips for creating a Positive Mindset:
This is replacing a negative thought with a positive one. For example, ‘This is horrible, I want to stop’ could be replaced with ‘This is hard, but hard means I’m pushing myself, I’m progressing and I’m going to feel great when I get home knowing I stuck it out’.
Challenge Your Beliefs
For example, do you think you can’t run, or maybe that you can’t run further and faster? Where is the evidence for this? The body is designed to adapt to training. So, if you place it under appropriate demands and train energy systems in the right way then you will succeed. As a Personal Trainer, I adapt all of my training sessions to allow for progression, and instil belief in capability which creates a positive mindset – achievements flow from there.
Keep A Training Diary
Writing down your activity allows you to look back and clearly see your progress. No matter how small your progress seems to be, it will improve your confidence and perceived competence.
Be Patient and Realistic
This is so important no matter what your fitness endeavour. It takes weeks for the physiological adaptations to take effect which, for example, will enable you to run faster. Even then, this may only translate to a second or two off a Personal Best or training pace. But progress is progress. Train sensibly, and set realistic yet challenging goals.
Get a Fitness Buddy or Coach
Enlisting the help of a friend or coach means that you’ll always have someone to both encourage you, and keep you accountable. If you have a training partner, you’ll be less likely to miss a session, meaning that you’ll start to see the changes, and develop a more positive, confident mindset off the back of this. If you have a coach, a training plan will be created especially for you which will help to give the self-belief necessary to push yourself that bit harder.
So, stop the self-sabotage, banish your negative mindset, and bask in the enjoyment of your fitness and achievements!