Hi friend! I’m glad you joined me today because that tells me that you are determined to learn and grow in the knowledge of health, fitness, and mindset. Each blog and podcast episode, I try to provide you with practical tips you can start doing to get you closer to your goals of being an all-around healthier human being… mind, body, and of course, spirit as I dedicate Sunday podcast episodes to strengthening your faith and your relationship with God. If you haven’t tuned in to the podcast yet, check it out here:
Today, I really want you to grasp what I’m going to talk about and commit to yourself right now that you will start taking action to do what’s necessary for that growth you desire.
I’m going to talk about your thoughts and how they either keep you stuck in old and unhealthy habits or how they can help you to improve in any area, but specifically health and fitness since that’s what I’m here for! So, without further a due, let’s get into it.
First, I want to teach you how to:
Eliminate Self-Sabotaging Automatic Thoughts
It doesn’t matter if you have the right tools or the best trainer on the planet. If you carry around destructive thinking and a fixed mindset, there’s going to be no significant change. Think about how many times you’ve tried dieting or picking up a healthy habit and you’ve failed. A few times? A dozen times? A thousand times?
Now I want you to think about how much mindset work you’ve devoted time to, versus just trying to be healthy and lose weight with your willpower.
Now, Let me ask you a question:
Do you really believe that all change starts in the mind? If so, why are you not spending at least half of your time or even 10% of your time working on your mindset? I mean truly and intentionally working on your thoughts and beliefs. Stephanie Bogan, a top CEO coach, entrepreneur, and journalist writes that neuroscience has shown us that success in anything is 80% mindset and 20% method. That’s huge! 80%!
So, yea, it’s important to have methods and strategies to help you reach your weight loss goal. 80% doesn’t get you to the result you desire all by itself. However, you can have all the right strategies and methods in the world, but if your mindset is crappy, it’s not going to get you anywhere.
I’m going to give you some actions to take today to help you start working on those destructive thought patterns, so hang tight with me…
One of the biggest problems is that people think that what they believe is 100% the truth. Without even truly thinking about it, we have automatic thoughts about ourselves, about society, other people, and the world in general. Most of those automatic thoughts are not 100% true but are actually just a distorted version of the truth. So, people’s thoughts of what is true is likely just a perception of the truth that may not be accurate.
So, if you are thinking I’m not capable of working out 3-4 times a week or eating nutritious food 80% of the time, or I could never have the body that I want, or I don’t have time to commit to healthy habits… that thought is probably not true… it’s just your perception of a situation. A perception that is skewed based on your automatic thoughts you let run your every move.
The cool thing is, you have power over your thoughts, and you can change them. If you’re scoffing at me over this first concept of mind work, don’t shut me down just yet. There is scientific evidence that your thought process and your beliefs drive your actions. There’s also evidence showing that we can re-structure our thoughts to promote new actions.
So, if your actions are unfavorable and not helping you achieve something, why wouldn’t you seek to change that instead of trying to force a new behavior. That’s why people fail dieting, exercise programs, relationships, saving money, new businesses, and lots of other things we desire to have or do for ourselves.
They try to convince themselves for a time that it’s worth it, they can do it, they have the power. But that usually fails you after a short period of time. But it’s because there has been no restructuring of automatic thoughts. There is a failure to instill new thought patterns which would lead to new habits and behaviors.
So, how do we rewire our thoughts? I’ve been reading a book called “Why People Fail” by Simon Reynolds… really good stuff in there! I’m taking a few of his mindset strategies and presenting them to you here today.
Simple mindset work can take just 15 minutes of your day and change so much about the way you function and what you achieve. So, let’s say you’ve decided to eat healthier and exercise so you can slim down, feel better, and have more confidence. You’re getting ready to grocery shop, meal prep, workout or whatever healthy habit you want to do. Before doing that action, take about a minute to check on your mind before or during this time and ask yourself some questions. These questions need to be a part of your daily mindset work. You can remember these by the acronym SCORE.
SCORE technique- Self-discipline, concentration, optimism, relaxation, and enjoyment
1. Self-Discipline: Is the action I’m doing helping me work towards my goal. This is a good time to remind yourself of that goal you’ve set for yourself. Sometimes we get caught up in the daily actions and it feels a little stale and mundane. But it’s the small daily actions that are getting you closer to your goal. So, ask yourself, why am I doing this? Is it helping me reach my goal? If the answer is yes, then you have purpose in doing the action.
2. Concentration: Am I focused on the task I’m about to do. Are you intentional with your task? Are you going into your workout just kind of going through the motions or are you focused on your form, your breathing, and your heart rate. Focus on whatever it is you’re taking the time to do. This is part of being intentional with your habits. Don’t just do something without thinking about it. We’re working to build new habits and that takes thinking about them over and over. So, think about your action and why you’re doing it and how well you’re concentrating and focusing on doing it well.
3. Optimism- Am I being optimistic about this and expecting things to go well? I’m not talking about false optimism. You’re re-wiring your brain to think “this is going to work well for me.” You know it’s a good habit, you know people who are successful with weight loss do “X” well (fill in the blank, ie. Meal prep, workout 5 times a week). Be expectant, not just wishful, that your actions and your new thoughts are going to bode well for you and pay off in the future.
4. Relaxation- How do I feel right now? This is a good time to ground yourself and notice any physical tension or negative emotions. I had to do this sitting in front of my business coach because I was so overwhelmed with the work I was trying to do. I knew it was getting my closer to my objective goal, it was part of a good habit and work ethic, but I was tense, anxious, and overwhelmed. She made me stop what I was doing, and asked me some questions like how do you feel in your body right now. I noticed that my shoulder and neck were tense. I had a headache. Just sitting with these emotions and feelings was enough to release some of that tension. I was now AWARE and not just allowing my emotions and my mind to control the rest of me. So, make sure you’re aware, relaxed, and feeling good regularly throughout your day. Again, this is another way to make sure your brain isn’t controlling you, but you’re telling it what to do. Relax!
5. Enjoyment- Am I appreciating what I’m about to do for myself? Going back to being aware of your feelings… are you enjoying the process? I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing because I had too much on my plate. When I became aware of my emotions, I had to start prioritizing so I could take stuff off of my plate so that I could once again enjoy the process of reaching my goal. If you are overwhelmed with dieting, losing weight, or building healthier habits, you’re doing too much too fast. If you’re not enjoying the journey, you need to take a step back. Maybe allow yourself a little wiggle room in your diet. Take a few days off from the gym. You don’t have to be in a rush. It’s the small daily progressive actions that make the biggest difference. The key is awareness. Again, retraining our brains.
So, five simple questions to ask yourself for maybe a minute before you start the day and maybe mid-day, or before you start that new behavior. (Self-discipline, concentration, optimism, relaxation, and enjoyment).
Another way to retrain your brain is visualization. Mental rehearsal significantly improves performance in whatever you are doing. Your subconscious does not distinguish between an event that is actually taking place and the one you consistently envision.
So, let’s say meal prepping is the toughest task for you. Imagine yourself getting those healthy nutrient dense foods in the grocery store, preparing it like a boss in the kitchen, and eating your meals with enjoyment. Imagine, like I used to, that you and your family are actually enjoying fresh and healthy food that makes them feel good. I want you to literally create this story in your mind as you envision yourself grocery shopping, preparing, and eating your delicious nutrient dense meals. Envision it over and over and over and your subconscious will think these are real events occurring. There is a physical pathway in your brain called a synapse. This pathway over time gets strengthened as you repeat a thought or action. This is how habits are built.
So, if you are constantly envisioning and practicing this action you want to do for yourself, that pathway gets stronger and the structure of your brain literally changes to help you accomplish the task more easily. I think that’s incredible. So, visualize every chance you get, imagining yourself doing all the things you are only wishing you could do right now.
Fixed Mindset VS a Strategic and Growth Mindset
You don’t have to be a victim of automatic thoughts and a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is focused on the current abilities and qualities you have with the belief that they’re permanent and unchangeable. There is a false belief that you’ve been given limited knowledge and abilities and that you cannot work outside of what you’ve been given. A big problem with a fixed mindset is that those people tend to give up too early. The reason why is because with a fixed mindset, a person is thinking that they can only achieve something with the natural talent and abilities they currently have. So, when things get tough and appear to be too great for them, they don’t want to persist, because if they do and they fail, it reveals that they’re current natural abilities aren’t enough…and then a feeling of worthlessness overtakes them.
A fixed mindset is a lonely and frustrating place to be. You never feel good enough except the few areas you feel confident in and so you keep doing the same things over and over again with the same results. They lose so many opportunities because they only stay in the lane that they feel confident in traveling. So, with that mindset, you will not change. And if you find yourself often saying “this is just the way I am,” or “I just wasn’t’ blessed with that gift or ability” you’re going to be stuck and miserable.
So, we need to offset that with the strategic and growth mindset.
With a growth mindset, your talents and abilities are not set in stone. It’s a thought process that believes even if you aren’t good at something now, you can be. With enough practice, time, and intention, you can do truly anything you set your mind to. Now, I’m not saying that you can do anything you set your mind to do if you do NOT take the time to practice, learn, and apply. There’s a difference here. This is not wishful thinking. This involves strategic thinking.
According to a 2020 study I read from Chen and Colleagues:
“A strategic mindset involves frequently asking oneself such questions as: “What can I do to help myself?”, “How else can I do this?”, or “Is there a way to do this even better?” Asking these questions can serve as a self-prime that prompts people to generate and use strategies appropriate to the task—a useful approach especially when encountering new challenges or ongoing difficulty. This means that a strategic mindset does not simply reflect people’s overall knowledge of strategies or how much people use any one particular strategy; instead, it is a general tendency toward self-priming metacognitive strategy use more broadly. “
Chen et al. (2020)
They’re not fixed on one strategy or way of doing things. They are open to trying new methods that they haven’t yet thought of or come across.
I’ll give you an example:
As it relates to dieting for weight loss, a lot of women get stuck on one way to lose weight… they may use different exercise programs or dieting programs, but they all typically boil down to “eat less food, workout as much as you can.” That’s the way. And that’s where women get stuck!
They look at my strategy and might freak out because it’s totally new and scary to them. They’re not open to eating more and doing less cardio because it doesn’t yet make sense to them. It seems counterintuitive. But the truth is, this method works and it brings sustainable weight loss over time. They’re just not willing to be open and try it because the process doesn’t compute with their fixed mindset of how a person is “supposed to” lose weight.
To succeed we’ve got to stray away from a fixed mindset of “this isn’t going to work for me” to a strategic mindset of “how else can I accomplish my goal?” “Is there a better way?” “What can I learn from my failures and how do I apply what I’ve learned?”” What can I learn from those who have succeeded reaching their weight loss goals and kept off the weight?”
Because news flash: If a person gains their weight back after they stopped the fad diet, the diet didn’t actually work. It helped them lose some water weight, muscle mass, and perhaps a little bit of fat. But as soon as they started eating like a normal human being, they gained it all right back, if not more than when they started.
With a growth mindset, failure is expected and actually encouraged.
You need to fail to learn and grow. You’ve got to embrace challenges and dilemmas. Those exist to teach you other avenues and to overcome mentally and physically challenging problems. I tried all the fad diets. I did keto, I tried IF, I did the shakes… I’ve tried it all. I’ve failed, learned what doesn’t actually work for me, and then I learned what method works for me and gives me lasting results that help me to live a life of balance.
Being in a growth mindset will set you up to become someone with so many more possibilities. So, to start working on becoming a doer of the growth mindset ask yourself some more questions.
1. What do I want to excel and improve in?
2. How would I like to change?
3. What does it look like? What does the improved me look like, feel like, act like, and think like?
Guys, if you want change, you have to start working on your thoughts and your outlooks. If the new you looks and feels leaner, healthier, and more energetic, start thinking of the ways you can take action to move toward that goal. What does a healthier person do differently? What actions do they take? What do they think? Surround yourself with these people, learn from those who have achieved what you want to achieve. This is one way you grow and change.
Just to give you a practical example of changing a fixed mindset into a growth mindset, I’m going to tell you about my journey with nutrition:
Now, fitness has been something that I’ve always done fairly well. I’ve always loved to move and sweat. I’ve always had really good form with weightlifting. I was confident in it and did it well.
Nutrition has always been a different story.
Growing up my mom worked very long hours and for the most part it was just me and my sister at home from the time we got home from school until it was time for bed. So, we ate a lot of frozen meals for dinner. I’ll never be able to eat a frozen Salisbury steak again. Frozen dinners, chips for snack after school, poptarts or cereal for breakfast. We didn’t have a lot of whole nutritious foods growing up. So, I had poor eating habits, didn’t know anything about healthier foods except I hated the taste of them when my mom went through occasional healthy eating phases. I remember her making us try brussel sprouts once and she wouldn’t let us get up from the table until we had eaten them. My cousin was with us that night and she put one in her mouth and started gagging. My mom got up from the table to do something and my cousin grabbed our plates and quickly threw the sprouts in the bottom of the trashcan so it would look like we’d eaten the veggies. So, naturally because I grew up on junk food, I hated the taste of natural healthy food.
Then as I got older and a little more health conscious, I started trying to eat better, but wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. That made me mad and frustrated like eating a few salads was going to reverse a lifetime of poor eating habits.
So, anytime someone talked about eating healthier, I just shut it down because I didn’t understand it, I didn’t like the taste of it, and I thought I would never be able to figure out the secret to nutrition.
That is until I got so tired of feeling gross, bloated, overweight, and unhappy. So, I determined to change my habits, change my actions and thoughts around food, and learn so I’d be able to apply for my desired outcome. It took years of not giving up. Years. There was a lot of trial and error. There was a lot of digging into books and podcasts. But this was important to me. I wanted it more than I wanted to stay the same. And if something isn’t a top priority for you, it’s going to be hard to succeed because any obstacle that comes is going to make you quit. But I had decided I was going to create new habits. I envisioned myself walking around confidently in the grocery store and being excited to create fresh meals. I envisioned my family sitting around the table eating foods that were nourishing their bodies, not making them sick and tired. I envisioned, I was okay with failing, and I set myself up for success. Now, I’m here, as a nutrition coach. Something I had no clue about, I was stuck, ignorant of health and nutrition, but I came out of the fixed mindset into a growth mindset. I’m eager every day to learn more and more about the things that are important to me.
Study from Chen and Colleagues:
These researchers studied 3 different groups. One was college students, one was professional adults with business, educational, or health goals, and then the last group was “performance on a novel task”.
Results showed that the more people utilized and employed growth mindset behaviors to help them reach their goal, the more progress they actually made toward achieving their goals across different domains of life. So, as researchers hypothesized, a strategic mindset indirectly predicted goal achievement.
Researchers also noted that the goals that were observed were ones that required the participants to employ new strategies. However, if the participant does not have the resources or strategies to draw from, then a strategic mindset isn’t as helpful, obviously. Additionally, if a participant is bogged down with too many new strategies, it could derail their progress. This means that you have to first have the right resources that are going to help you. This can come from doing your own studying into dieting or da-da-da-da… seeking out a coach to help you understand how to pursue your weight loss goal with a plan.
Another note from the researchers:
“A strategic mindset has distinct predictive power beyond self-control, grit, and growth mindsets”, although it is complementary (Chen et al., 2020).
For example, “practicing a strategic mindset could relieve the need for exerting chronically high levels of self-control during goal pursuit, which may not be sustainable.”
How many times have I said in my episodes that pure self-control can only get you so far… and it’s not that far.
“Research suggests that active and effective strategizing can actually minimize the need for high levels of effortful control.”
You can have a boat load of determination and grit, but if you don’t have a strategy and the right mindset, it’s not going to get you far. That grit will do a hard fade and then you’re going to grit your teeth in frustration.
“Self-exhortations to simply try harder may actually prove discouraging if a person is simply doubling down on the wrong strategy. A strategic mindset might instead encourage the person to search for and try out new strategies, consult with mentors, or seek out other experts. Even when things are going fine, there may still be better ways to move forward, and a strategic mindset may encourage people to find those ways.”
Resource: Chen, P., Powers, J. T., Kruthika, R. K., Cohen, G. L., & Dweck, C. S. (2020). A strategic mindset: An orientation toward strategic behavior during goal pursuit. Psychological and Cognitive Sciences, 117(25), 14066-14072.
You do not have to have a fixed mindset even if you feel stuck there right now. You can change your mind and that’s the beautiful thing about the freedoms we have to choose. You can choose to create new habits for yourself. You can choose to restructure your brain to create new ways of thinking. It’s not a kumbaya moment, it’s a real thing that has been studied, tested, and proven. You can change your thoughts to create successful habits and outcomes. You can CHOOSE to invest in this fitness journey by spending time listening to my podcasts for example. Take a course, hire a coach. It takes an optimistic outlook along with a solid strategy. You need both.
Now again, I would not take the time to write out this script for my blog and record this episode if I thought that this topic wasn’t a super important one. I was successful and still am successful in my physique and health goals because of my mindset. Had I stayed in my fixed mindset and didn’t practice intentionally thinking about my future self and future habits, I would not be here doing what I do. This isn’t an opinion. These are facts that have been researched time and time again. It doesn’t happen overnight. Restructuring your mind takes diligent, consistent, and intentional action and commitments.
So, I urge you today, if you are serious about changing your life, your habits, and your mind, do these things every day over and over. Get prepared for a mindset shift. If you’re not ready to change your mindset, you’re not nearly ready to diet or to change your body. It starts in the mind. What I’ve given you in this episode is a starting place to changing your thoughts from automatic to intentional. Put this episode on repeat if you need to. Retrain your brain, retrain the way you’re thinking and behaving.
So, let’s recap! To start restructuring our automatic thoughts we have to be intentional and think about what we’re thinking about and what actions we’re doing.
Your task after reading this is to:
1. Use the acronym score at least a couple times each day (SCORE-self-discipline, concentration, optimism, relaxation, and enjoyment)
Are your actions for the day getting you closer to your goal? Are you concentrating and focusing on your habits and actions? Are you doing them well? Are you optimistic that your newly formed behaviors are going to benefit you? Are you relaxed and calmed most of the time or are you taking on too much?
Are you enjoying the journey with your new behaviors?
2. Next, visualize your future self doing those behaviors. What does the new you look like, feel like, act like, and think like? You’re literally tricking your subconscious to believe that this is the way you are so that these new habits become permanent.
3. And then work towards a strategic and growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. You are not stuck. Your current abilities and talents are not set in stone. You can excel in new things.
Believe it, practice it, envision it, and claim it.
Now, this is just part 1 of this topic. I have a lot more to write and discuss. So, make sure you are subscribed to the podcast and/or my blog so you can get the notification for the next release. There’s a lot more good stuff coming up that I don’t want you to miss.
And if you are ready to take intentional action on your mindset, and you want that extra bit of help to grow in knowledge in the field of nutrition and exercise, I want to invite you to have a consultation call with me. When I take on clients to help them with their fitness and nutrition goals, we’re not just doing actions. They’re learning, they’re changing the way they think about food, and they’re building lifelong healthy habits. So, if you’re tired of trying to do all of this on your own and you want to link arms with someone like-minded, I’d love to hear from you and we’ll assess together to see if coaching is the next step in your health and fitness journey.
To set up a call just head over to Bridges2barbells.com/plans, click any of the options that say, “set up a consultation call,” schedule your time with me and we’ll chat about your goals, your setbacks, and how we can start making changes together.
That’s it for today guys. I hope you’ll start taking action today to change your mindset and work on not letting your brain control your behaviors but taking the power back into your hands and literally re-training your brain to do what you want it to do. If you enjoyed this post, please write me a little review, it just takes a few seconds to do, share this post on social media or with a friend who needs to hear it. Thank you, guys, for being here and I can’t wait to share with you again next week!
Bye for now!