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Today I am super excited to share our first ever guest post! My own personal coach for everything mind, body and business – Jill Coleman of JillFit Physiques is here to share specifically why if we do not prioritize getting our mind right, we will never see sustainable body change.
You guys have heard me talk about Jill a number of times here on the blog and are likely familiar with the incredible shift my own life has taken due largely in part to the work I have done with Jill.
Take it away, Jill:
I have a confession to make.
Over the last 4 years at JillFit, I’ve talked a lot about the concept of ‘mindset’ and how it relates to food and exercise. But ready for this? I kind of hate that word!
Why? Because it’s so vague and intangible. It doesn’t really mean anything out of context, and it’s such a hard concept for us to grasp because um, what is mindset? And why should we care?
Well, despite kind of hating that term, I’ve made it my mission to help people see just how much they should care about it. Why? Because it’s the key to making sustainable change with your eating and exercise.
But when I say ‘mindset,’ what I really mean is perspective – how one sees the world.
When you change the way you see the world, you change your outcomes.
It’s that simple. But it also takes work, and a lot of courage and some self-trust sprinkled on top. Changing your mindset around food and exercise can feel scary, but so much of what we think about it is ingrained.
Common mental constructs around food and exercise:
More is better.
No pain, no gain.
Sacrifice is required for results.
If you’re not going to go all the way, why bother?
Anything less than perfect eating won’t make a difference.
Go hard or go home.
Compliance is king.
If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward.
If I’m going to go “off plan,” I might as well go all the way!
We’ve all repeated these things, if not out loud then certainly in those times when we mentally berate ourselves in private.
But here’s the question: when we believe these punishing statements, do we tend to feel more or less motivated to keep going?
I don’t know about you, but believing these statements makes me feel like one single deviance is going to have me back to square one, and anything less than hardcore is not worth even trying. How does perpetuating this all-or-nothing mentality serve us in the long-term? It really doesn’t.
Could you turn these statements around to ones that are more encouraging and less cutthroat? I think so. And by doing so, you’re giving yourself the space and time to actually be able to implement long-term. In other words, you gain perspective.
Here’s my stab:
More is not better, better quality is better.
All pain, no gain.
The more you sacrifice, the more likely you are to boomerang back to overindulgence.
Every little bit counts.
Trying to be perfect is trying to fail.
Going hard or going home always ends up going home.
Blindly complying to random meal plans keeps you dependent and unable to think for yourself.
Accept that results are never going to be linear or predictable – your slip-ups are instructive.
Resiliency is the key to consistency over time. You’re always one meal away from being back in fat-burning mode.
The key here is actually not which set of statements is more accurate for rapid weight loss. The key here is … ready? … WHICH STATEMENTS KEEP YOU MOTIVATED TO BE AS SUSTAINABLY CONSISTENT AS POSSIBLE?
Because I am not interested in how you did today. I’m not interested in how “perfect” you ate this week. I’m actually not interested in the 15 pounds you lost as a result of white-knuckling your way through some super depriving meal plan.
What I am interested in is your long-term ability to make consistently good choices (not perfect ones!) for the next year, the next decade, forever. And in order to do that, you cannot let perfect be the enemy of good.
Ironically, one key mindset concept that has been shown in research to help us stay motivated is self-compassion – giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt.
This is tricky for us, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to nutrition and exercise, because we tend to feel like showing ourselves compassion when we are not “perfect” or when we are struggling is somehow letting ourselves off the hook. Like, if we show ourselves kindness when we’re not doing what we think we should be doing, it means we’ll really go off and eat everything!!
We feel like negative motivators like guilt, shame, remorse and self-disgust are useful. We think we need them because they “keep us in line.”
Nothing could be further from the truth. And yes, I know that’s hard to believe!
But research tells us that acknowledging our humanity in those moments of well, being human, and putting things in perspective allows for further action. It’s saying, “You know what, I may not be perfect, but I’m doing my best. We are all the same, we are all working to get better and all I can focus on is my next meal. I don’t have to let slip-ups and mess-ups mean that I suck and I’ll never be successful.”
This mental turnaround actually helps us STAY THE COURSE.
Approaching your eating and exercise with a cutthroat mindset is the 1.0 version. It’s what the dieting industry, the meal plan culture and all the quick-fix programs have ingrained in us. And we perpetuate it, often unknowingly, even though it’s not serving us.
So changing your mindset to something that helps you stay consistent represents the 2.0 version. It requires you begin questioning those old beliefs about hardcore approaches and start thinking for yourself.
Your perception of the process is exactly what appears: if you think it’s hard and it sucks and you’ll never be successful, then that reality will most certainly show up.
Or, if you think that nutrition and exercise are a journey and you always have a chance to do better, and you never reach a point of no returns, and results take time and consistency, then chances are you will stay the course. You won’t give up as easily as you might with a more cutthroat mindset.
Your mindset dictates your actions over time. And your actions over time are all the matter for results.
I know it can be scary, but could you try a new way? Could you show yourself some compassion? Could you implement some more moderate (not perfect!) choices? Could you approach your eating and exercise not with urgency, but with the realization that they go on forever, so best to find a more sustainable strategy?
This is a practice. Changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen with continued awareness, catching yourself in your old mental patterns, and harnessing that little bit of effort to turn those thoughts around to ones that serve you.
Choose a perception that serves you. It’s that simple.
Wishing you the best of luck!
Whoa, ok I hope you can see the power your own mind can play in the way you perceive the world. Remember, our mindset affects every thought we make. When we change our mindset, we change our thoughts, emotions, and ultimately our decisions. Our decisions directly affect our results!
To you and your success,