Your ultimate guide to reprogramming your brain for healthy change and unleashing your best you
If you’re like most people, you want to look and feel your best…And yet…There are probably a million different things requiring your time, attention, and energy, that can get in the way. We’ve asked our clients, and reviewed the research, and there are common issues that everyone faces when trying to make healthy changes, and they all are within your brain. When you learn the secrets to reprogramming your brain for healthy change, you’ll be amazed (and delighted) at how much easier it is to adopt healthy habits. The biggest factors keeping someone from starting a health and fitness program are:
- An all-or-nothing perspective
- Lack of clarity ‘out there’ on where and how to start
- Limiting beliefs
1. All-or-nothing perspective
An all-or-nothing perspective is a type of perfectionism that tells you unless you can do something 100% and 100% perfectly, there’s no point in getting started. It’s this type of thinking that tells you when you miss a workout, to go ahead and eat that (entire) cake, because you blew it anyway. Sometimes it looks like not doing any exercise until you research and purchase every single item of clothing and equipment you might EVER need before you so much as walk around the block. It also is this type of thinking that gets you started down the rabbit hole of social media watching fitness models and athletes and assuming that’s where everyone else is and feeling like you can’t get started until you’re at that level (kind of like cleaning your house before the cleaning service comes, or doing your hair before visiting the hairdresser). If you have an all -or-nothing perspective it can be very uncomfortable for you to take small steps towards anything.
The solution for overcoming all-or-nothing perspective is permission. You need to GIVE YOURSELF PERMISSION to take a small first step. If you believe the ultimate in fitness is to run a marathon, give yourself permission to start by walking around the block. Mini-goals are an excellent tool for someone with all or nothing thinking. Start with where you want to be, even if it seems ridiculously unattainable, and then work backwards in small increments to where you are today. This way, you can ‘trick’ your brain into taking a small step, and not feel guilty.
2. Lack of clarity on where and how to start
Thanks to social media and a predatory diet and fitness industry, there is a ton of confusing and conflicting information about getting fit and getting to an ideal body composition. Make no mistake: There are millions of companies out there who are heavily invested in convincing you that you need this shake or that supplement, or that workout protocol. If you’ve struggled with your weight, or have metabolic issues due to age or serial dieting, you may be susceptible to someone who claims to have found a cure for your particular problem. Maybe they have, but be aware that most of these companies do their research and pay writers a lot of money to hit just the right chord with you to entice you to buy what they’re selling. Most of it goes back to the first point, and of losing sight of the value of incremental progress instead of instant perfection. If you want to start seeing results there is a very simple formula you can start today (provided your doctor has indicated this is safe):
a) Move faster with greater intensity
The old adage ‘no pain no gain’ has been villainized, but it’s not too far from the truth. Change and growth comes from a place of discomfort, not from a place of comfort. Obviously you don’t want to do things that physically hurt you, but you should be doing a little more than is comfortable. If all you’re capable of right now is walking, then walk a little faster. Our brains and bodies are wired to expend as little effort as possible for many reasons, so it’s up to us to keep pushing through to the next level. Even seasoned athletes reach performance plateaus, requiring a change in activity or intensity.
b) Build muscle
It’s time to put to bed once and for all that strength training ‘bulks you up’. Ask any competitive body builder and he or she will tell you that it’s just not that easy to put on a bunch of muscle. Adding muscle through strength training not only enables your body to burn calories more effectively, it also helps support your bones (so important as we age). Starting to build muscle doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re not doing any strength training now, you can easily build it into your routine. One way to start is to purchase some small dumbbells and take them with you on your walks, pumping your arms to work your biceps, or pushing them overhead to work your shoulders. You can also use those same dumbbells to work your legs by squatting, lunging or doing calf-raises. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll need heavier weights.
c) Eat more protein and vegetables (and less refined carbohydrates)
Sugar and processed carbohydrates get a bad rap for good reason. There’s no advantage to your body to consume these. A lot of us have been traumatized by the media, influencers, or ourselves by deprivation dieting and find the idea of giving up food groups triggering. Instead, just focus on eating more lean protein and vegetables and don’t focus too much on what you can’t eat. Try to eat some kind of protein with every meal. Some quick and easy sources are chicken, tuna, almonds, string cheese, protein drinks or powders (check the sugar content, though), Greek yogurt, lean beef, turkey, lean pork. Eating more vegetables is another way to feel more full and also do your body a giant favor. Some people like to juice their veggies, others eat them raw. Make it easy for yourself to eat your veggies by cleaning and peeling them and having them on the ready to eat when the snack attack hits you.
3. Limiting Beliefs
Last, but definitely not least, are the beliefs you have about yourself and about health and fitness in general. Our core beliefs, both conscious and subconscious, determine our reality. If you have core beliefs that you just can’t stick with a healthy eating plan, that you aren’t the type of person who likes to exercise, or that all of this just doesn’t work for you, then it will be very difficult (impossible) to achieve lasting change. One way to determine if you have limiting beliefs, is to look at your current reality as well as your history. If you have a pattern of making positive changes and then ‘relapsing’, or if the thought of making changes arouses a lot of emotion for you, then you’re likely dealing with limiting beliefs.
If this is you, the first thing to do is find out what you believe is true about you. Hint: it’s whatever you’re experiencing at the moment, but it’s important to write it down. IE: ‘Whenever I lose weight, I just gain it back and then some.’ After you’ve identified your limiting beliefs, it’s time to formulate some new beliefs. Write out what you’d LIKE to be true instead.
The bridge between your current limiting beliefs, and your new, supportive beliefs is a process of visualization and affirmation. You need to imagine life if your new beliefs were true. Incorporate all five senses to imagine what it would look, sound, smell, taste, and feel to be the version of yourself that you’d like to be. Connect with this emotionally, and then create affirmations around this.
Affirmations are not simply statements of what you want. You would never have an affirmation like “I’m going to lose 50 pounds”. Affirmations are positive statements regarding your progress towards your goal. For example, “I instinctively eat and metabolize foods in such a way to maintain the perfect body for me”, or “I am most happy when I choose nourishing, healthy food for my body” or “I choose to improve my physical and emotional health and well-being through regular cardiovascular exercise and strength training.”
Remember, there are two types of people in this world: Those who think visualization and affirmations are flaky, and those who actually do it and see the amazing results!
If you are intentional about being open to mini-steps, progress not perfection, building strengths and establishing supportive beliefs, you will find your journey to health and fitness both achievable and enjoyable! You can start by trying out 2 free classes at Limitless Fitness!