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A few months ago, I was talking to my Personal Trainer at the gym, telling her how impossible it was for me to lose weight. No matter how much I exercised or dieted I just wasn't getting any results. Her reply was instant and very simple - change your mindset.
At first, I didn't really understand what she was saying. My instant reaction was to think that my current mindset must be totally wrong but how was it wrong and how do you change it? This whole concept about changing your mindset really got me thinking and I must admit a little bit excited, because changing your mindset sounded so easy, kind of like changing your clothes. I was eager to learn more.
So, here I was ready to switch mindsets, when I realised I had no idea how to actually do it. You see my mindset has taken me a whole lifetime to put together, at least four decades to be exact. What's more, it's a whole collection of values, beliefs and ideas that I have grown quite attached to. I simply didn't know how to make myself think any differently to the way I have done all of my life. I started to think that there might be more to this mindset change than it sounded.
Once I started exploring the possibility that I could actually alter my thinking to bring about a different result, it got me carefully dissecting things I currently do. It didn't take me long to realise where my thinking was when it came to weight loss, diet and exercise. Dieting and exercise just didn't come naturally to me. I really didn't feel like I was making much of a physical difference especially since I had been at it for quite a few years. When I looked even closer, I started to realise that I wasn't feeling confident that I could lose any more weight.
I decided that if I am really serious about breaking through this plateau that I was on, I had to be more confident with my approach. I also had to look at things more positively when it came to this area of my life. I actually had to start believing that I could in fact make a change and stick to it. I also started to draw on my successes from the past. When did I have success with diet and exercise? What have been the positive outcomes of my whole weight loss investment? I started to see that it hasn't been a total waste of time, after all I had lost 10kg and I did feel a great deal healthier with a lot more energy each day. Although I haven't lost any weight for the past six months, I hadn't really gained weight either and that was a positive. These reminders made me realise why it was important to stay on this pathway and that perhaps I had started changing my mindset when I first started on my mission to lose weight a few years ago. I also recognised that what was really valuable here was perhaps not so much my physical appearance but that my inner health was in good shape.
By focusing on the positive outcomes and looking forward to fresh new goals with more self-belief, the old L'Oreal tag line immediately came to mind "Because I'm worth it". I started to realise the real importance of evaluating my approach to this whole area of my life and giving it a new level of importance. I wasn't wasting money or time on this part of my life, in fact it has been a very good investment. Who knows where I would be if I hadn't introduced exercise and healthy eating into my life when I did.
With the help of my Personal Trainer we started to look forward and put together a plan for success. We went back to the drawing board and identified specific areas to work on, starting with my routine, menu plan, grocery list, exercise plan with specific activities and goals for each session. Having a basic outline for the week and a routine in place made things a whole lot easier as time was allocated and I didn't need to think about how I was going to fit it all in to my busy week. On reflection, this was not new to me, we had done this before when I first started with my Trainer a few years ago but over time I had forgotten it and drifted off track. This was an opportunity to refresh and perhaps even switch over to the positive mindset I needed to get back on track and feel motivated about my healthy lifestyle once again.
I have also started to catch myself when my take on things weren't so positive or I would talk myself out of exercise or healthy eating. This is when I really need to muster strength and challenge my thought processes. For example, after a few sessions on my own at the gym I would find myself saying "I really suck at running". On recognising the negative voice, I started to put more effort into catching myself and combating the negative thoughts. I had to realise that the negative comments weren't doing me any good so now I nip it in the bud and find positive things to say "I actually can run better now than I could ten years ago". To take it one step further I decided to be more proactive and set myself mini goals within each session. For example, today I will complete 3 rounds of running/walking on the treadmill within 30 minutes. That way at the end I can say I completed a good cardio session! By setting small achievable goals, I felt like I was more likely to accomplish something rather than feel defeated and give up.
The whole idea of changing of mindset got me thinking about other people who had lost significant amounts of weight. I started to branch out and ask a few people I knew what kind of things they did to keep themselves on track. One lady had lost a remarkable 50kgs a few years ago and had managed to keep it off over the last two years. When I asked her about her approach she confessed that it was the pain and agony of what her life was like then that keeps her looking forward and she is motivated by fear of her past to maintain a healthy lifestyle going forward. She also has the hope of passing on a good example to her the children she hopes to have some day. Key to her ongoing success is a weekly routine of daily exercise and planning ahead when it comes to meals preparation. Being strong and committing to the routine is important to staying on track.
I have discovered during this process that it is natural to check back at the past but it doesn't need to define your future. The bigger goals are ahead and although it might not be as easy as flicking on a switch the more you practice your new mindset it will be easier to notice when you are drifting off course and when you need to change your mindset. It does take time patience and perseverance but it's worth it if it's what you really want and truly value.
While I have focused specifically on weightloss here, I am sure you can apply the following steps to almost any area in life where you have a pre-existing belief or perspective on.
8 steps in changing your mindset.
1. Recognise your current mindset and how you approach the belief you wish to change.
2. Identify what it really is you wish to change.
3. Have belief in yourself and the confidence that you can change your mindset.
4. Recognise the value in your new mindset. Embrace it and identify with it.
5. Be positive and use positive language when talking about this area.
6. Muster strength and determination to overcome conflicting and challenging views.
7. Practice practice practice.
8. When you drift off track, recognise it and change your mindset to where it needs to be.