“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt
How many times have you heard or read something about the importance of mindset for fitness (and life) success? Probably enough times to not even bother processing it. You think, “Yeah, yeah…whatever. Easier said than done. Let me get back to counting calories.”
I get it. I am guilty of dismissing mindset too. But, what if I told you that a simple change in mindset without a change in your current healthy diet and training could facilitate weight loss, fat loss and a decrease in blood pressure?
Seems pretty unbelievable, right? Well, that is exactly what Harvard psychologists found in a study examining mindset’s impact on health and fitness results.
Mindset Matters: The Research
Eighty-four female room attendants were divided into either an “informed” or “uninformed” group. The informed group was told that their work (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle. They were also provided with explanations of how their work was good exercise. The uninformed group (i.e. control group) was not given this information.
Although actual behavior did not change four weeks after the intervention for either group (i.e. diet, exercise or work load), the informed group perceived themselves to be getting more exercise than before and, in comparison to the uninformed group, showed a decrease in weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index.
Harness Your Mindset
While this study (and many others) demonstrates why self-belief and mindset are critical to fitness success, the question remains: How exactly do you get your mind right?
Using this study’s findings as a guide, consider the following:
1) Find A Plan That YOU Truly Believe In. There are seemingly hundreds of ways to approach your fitness goals. You can follow IIFIYM, South Beach, The Zone, a carb cycling plan, etc. You can do HIIT, Weight Watchers, steady state cardio, juice, etc. Whatever it is that you choose, if you truly believe that you can get results and feel good about the process of doing so, you are much more likely to stick with it and be successful.
2) Use Your Head. While it may be convenient to just follow a plan without much thought, investing in knowing the why’s and how to’s in advance will help you more fully buy-in and believe in its ability to provide results.
3) 30 Days – No Questions. Confidence and self-belief can begin to wane when you don’t see results in an expected timeframe. Set yourself up for success in advance by committing to one month of effort no matter what, as it can take about that long to see results.
4) Yes, You Can. Remind yourself daily of all the reasons YOU CAN achieve your goal. Don’t dwell on the obstacle or challenges. Rather, crowd out the negativity with all the reasons you can do it.
5) See It, Sister. Envision what success looks like in great detail every day. Do it before you get out of bed, before you eat a meal or train, when you need a break from work, as a part of your daily meditation or whenever you feel discouraged.
6) Stay In The Driver’s Seat. Remember, we have control of our thoughts and minds. We are not victim to the movie running in our head. Choose to dismiss negative thoughts and repeat to yourself daily that you are making progress and will reach your goal.
Push Toward Your Best
Over the years of my fitness journey, I have learned a few hard lessons about what happens when your mental attitude does not support your goals. You can dearly want to achieve a goal, but if you do not simultaneously truly believe that you can (no matter what you proclaim to others), you will not be successful. You must have consistent positive belief and confidence to make your desires a reality. While this may seem straightforward and obvious, we rarely spend time thinking about what we are thinking about. Let’s turn that around. Harness your thoughts and halt the stinkin’ thinkin’. You will immediately make a difference in how you approach your goals and how feel about yourself. Let me know how it goes.
Keep pushing—your best is waiting!
Your Best is presented by Gaspari Nutrition.
Crum, Alia J., and Ellen J. Langer. 2007. Mind-set matters: Exercise and the placebo effect. Psychological Science 18, no. 2: 165-171. Read the article here: http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3196007/Langer_ExcersisePlaceboEffect.pdf?sequence=1
Idler, E., & Kasl, S. (1991). Health perceptions and survival: Do global evaluations of health status predict mortality? Journals of Ger- ontology, 46(2), S55–S65.
Kaplan, G.A., & Camacho, T. (1983). Perceived health and mortality: A nine-year follow-up of the Human Population Laboratory co- hort. American Journal of Epidemiology, 177, 292–304.