The mind is a powerful thing. It is crazy powerful, every astonishing athletic or physical feat comes not merely from the body but a strong mind that works in concert with the body. I don’t care how great your genetics are you will never be great if you never cultivate the mindset necessary to succeed and to reach that elite level of fitness you are capable of. For most of my life, I never had the drive or what I thought was the will power to achieve anything. I went through life working on things sporadically but never sticking with them. Sound familiar? I do lots of things to help focus and strengthen my mind such as meditation, listening to motivational speeches (Tony Robbins YouTube clips ftw), and accomplishing little tasks each day that I can snowball towards achieving a single goal. However, what I have found in all of this time is that one of the most powerful changes you can make comes not by simply changing your bad habits but by making an identity level shift with who you are as a person.
People get out of shape. People get overweight. People get lazy. After these things occur for a long enough time span then people get a sense of motivation to get up and lose that extra layer of fat that covers their body. That is a great start but how many of these people ever truly accomplish their goal of getting six pack abs or dropping 30 pounds? How many that do actually accomplish these goals sustain it in the long term? The problem these people are having is not a lack of motivation or will power it is that they genuinely don’t identify with this lifestyle as a person.
Motivation, unfortunately , is often fleeting. It is easy to pump yourself up for a day or for a few weeks but what happens after that initial burning desire fades? People fall off the wagon. Hell, it’s happened to me many times. When I first started to workout I went from chubby to skinny fat to lean and muscular…then I stopped. I had accomplished my vague goal but a day of here and there re-introduced old bad habits back into my life and I began to slip and put on weight.
The problem I had and that many other people had is that I didn’t make the shift completely in lifestyle and identity. Exercise and a clean diet was something that I was doing, not a full-fledged part of my life. This is a very important concept because people work their tails off to get into shape for a beach trip or for a high school reunion but once the deadline has past they go right back to their old ways until the next time they need to be trim and fit.
- Diet is not a temporary thing! It is a means to fuel your life!
- Healthy foods are not a once and a while punishment, it is what keeps your body alive!
- Exercise is not something to be done merely to look great for a short period of time. It is for health and optimal living.
This identity level thinking is what holds so many of us back from living the lives we want. We have conditioned ourselves to love the taste of salty and sugary foods that beat down or emotions, health, and energy levels instead of learning to create healthy meals that have great flavor and keep us running at our full potential. You don’t eat that bag of chips not because “I’m on a diet” but because it is not a part of who you are as a person. You want to be healthy. You want to look great and have tons of energy and those few moments of satisfying a craving for chips doesn’t outweigh your long-term well-being.
I’m reminded of an anecdote from one of those Tony Robbins seminars that I listen to in which he discusses how he gained weight once he started making good money. He had equated eating all the food on his plate with being a success, he could afford to eat all the foods he couldn’t when he was poor, and so he did. This kind of conditioning is epidemic but he says he broke it by re-conditioning himself to push the plate away from himself while there was still food left, shifting to smaller plates, and other types of foods. The point I am trying to make is that the mental aspect is much more important than the physical exercise that you will be doing because it both sets the tone and keeps you on course. If you have your mindset strong then everything else falls into line rather easily. You don’t gain weight because you no longer identify with unhealthy foods, being lazy, not exercising, etc.
I want you to really figure out what the mental games are that you play with yourself that are currently holding you back. However, the first main trick you need to get rid of is the “I’m on a diet.” No, using the word diet in that way makes it seem like a temporary and abusive punishment that you have placed on yourself instead of meaning the foods that you eat on a daily basis. If you currently drink a lot of soda then condition yourself to be a person that doesn’t. Imagine you grew up in a society where soda did not exist, would it be an indispensable part of your life then? Of course not, so that means that you can eliminate it from the current lifestyle you lead.
I really believe that this one tip about forging an identity level change is the most powerful thing you can do in terms of weight loss and being healthy. If you no longer view yourself as a person who eats junk food and who eats lots of veggies and other good foods then it is easy for everything else to get itself in line. Tell yourself today that you are not on a diet, but instead, that you are eating healthy for the rest of your life. Start small by slowly eliminating and replacing junk foods, figure out what healthy foods you like to eat and how to cook them, read lots of books about healthy eating and the impact of disease and other maladies a poor diet can wreck on your body. You are strong enough to change but this current version of you needs to shift their beliefs into a new and improved version of your self. Will you do it or will you keep on this current path?