Ensure Your Success: 4 Steps To Mental Strength!
Change is scary for everyone. Your decision to be more fit and healthy might leave you feeling unsure, overwhelmed, and anxious. I know from personal experience that switching to a healthy lifestyle can be so intimidating that it's almost crippling. If you're brand-spanking new to the fitness world, the first thing you need to recognize is that it is you who are your biggest obstacle.
When I first began walking down the fitness path in 2007, I felt alone, insecure, and frustrated. I probably tried every weight-loss plan on the planet. To make things worse, I felt defeated when I put all my hopes into a dream physique and it didn't pan out the way I expected it to. I had to start over, which was emotionally disorienting.
The problems that occur at the outset of fitness expeditions are usually caused by a gnarly storm borne from two problems: a fear of failure and a deficient sense of self-worth. This combination leads to a frustrating feeling of isolation. You make the commitment to change and then suddenly feel like you've been thrust back into a crowded junior high school cafeteria and have no friends to sit with. To the new gym member, it can feel like everyone else at the club is staring in silent judgment. This anxiety makes achieving goals feel impossible from the get-go.
So how do you avoid self-destructing before you even start? By applying these four tips:
1 / Remember Your "Why"
Whether you have a wedding or vacation coming up, or you just want to feel comfortable shopping for clothes, you need to constantly remind yourself of why you started. You set out with a goal. When those "I can'ts" start kicking in, it's time for a gut check. If that goal is lost in all your self-doubt and worry, find it, polish it off, and put it back where it should be!
Your desire to conquer your goal must outweigh the psychological negativity. You're in a war against yourself! Until your inner resolve to succeed overpowers your anxieties, you'll remain at a standstill. Although your doubt and your will might feel equal in power, remember that 54 percent desire outweighs 46 percent fear. Technically, that's a win in the books for you. Every little bit of confidence helps and it snowballs with time.
2 / You Are Worthy of Your Goals!
You, Bodybuilding.com reader, are a wonderful, beautiful, hard-working, remarkable, resilient person and you deserve to reach your goals. You are so much tougher than you give yourself credit for! I can't tell you how many times I catch people I know, or even myself saying, "Gosh, I just don't know if I can/should do that—I'm not sure I'm cut out for it." Or, "I want to try that but I'm afraid I'll look stupid or be bad at it." When you say things like this, you tell yourself you're not worthy of the effort because you think you'll probably fail.
Listen up: All people have the right to try to better themselves. I don't care if you're morbidly obese. I don't care if you only have 10 pounds to drop. Whether you're making huge diet adjustments, switching your training styles, changing gyms, or you're starting out with a new coach or trainer, shake off that anxiety. Don't let it win.
You must believe in your heart that you are worth the dreams you chase. Stop caring what others will think, do, or say because it doesn't matter. Surrender to and acknowledge your fears for a moment, embrace them, and let them go. It's much more emotionally freeing to know that you have fears than to pretend they're not there. Believe in yourself and your ability to make progress. Know that it won't be instantaneous.
Next time you're training or struggling with your lifestyle change and find yourself saying, "I don't know if I can do this. I can't do this. I can't ..." Hit the stop button. Get your mind right. You'll be surprised at the difference in power, strength, and desire positive self-talk will make. Telling yourself, "I can" will help you feel empowered and mentally tough.
3 / Give Yourself an Honest Chance
Recently, a friend said to me: "Abby, I've been really good for a month. But watch me fall off the wagon and lose all my progress. Oh, well."
Hey! Don't talk about yourself like that. Don't start out with the expectation that you won't succeed because you're trying to protect yourself from disappointment. When you do that, you put yourself in a hole. You're going to have to climb out of it at some point, so don't let insecurity do the talking. Learn to recognize it, and shake it off. Trust yourself. Trust your program. Celebrate the little victories you see in the mirror and on the scale.
On that same token, I promise you're going to screw up. You're going to make mistakes, miss workouts, and succumb to late-night treats. Mentally and emotionally plan for it now. Self-forgiveness and resilience are key elements to being successful. It doesn't matter how long you've been chasing your goals—I've been training and doing shows for 4.5 years and I still screw up on a regular basis! Just because you cave to a craving or skip the gym for a night does not mean you've just destroyed any chance at success. You're no more or less flawed than anyone else. Expect curveballs, because they're going to happen; but don't use them as evidence against yourself to prove that you're incapable of doing what you want.
4 / Network with Positive People
How many Negative Neds or Debbie Downers influence your life? If you can think of even one, it might be time to change your community.
Rather than surrounding yourself with negativity, find people who are going through the same changes that you are. I've managed to network with some outstanding people who always have good, positive things to say. Their support has made a world of difference to my success. Talk with people who seem happy and are able to find the sunshine in the hurricane. Discover people with drive and ambition who are willing to share it with you. With people like this in your corner, your stock in yourself will grow tremendously.
People who rise to the occasion in life will often take you with them. Conversely, people who complain and give up will stop you in your tracks. Weed out the angry, negative people and invest time getting to know positive people who believe in you. You'll never look back!
Now you're ready. You're ready to take that step, take that chance, and become who you want to be. There's nothing standing in your way except your own anxieties, fears, and doubts. Once you learn how to stop fighting yourself, you'll have a much happier, healthier outlook on your journey. Good luck to you all!
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Number 3 always damns me. I've had a history with yoyo'ing because of good eating and suddenly sporadic bouts of binging and i kick myself for how better i could be right now if i hadn't made those past mistakes but you're absolutely right and i refuse to give up on myself.
And i loved the first idea, the "why" always pulls me through. I wear a bracelet 24/7 that reminds me why i'm doing this
I absolutely feel ya. I'll have days where my diet was great then all of a sudden i'm eating enough to last for days! Keep going strong!
#3 happened to me last night by way of pizza. Shook it off this morning and here I am, 40 oz of water down already and a healthy meal in the books. You are going to stumble, you are going to fall. Pick yourself back up just like you would if you really did stumble or fall. Would you continue to lay on the ground if you fell? Absolutely not. Every failure is a set up for a comeback! Keep at it and invest in yourself.
It seems with me the negative people in my life are family, they think my diet changes, my obsession with working out and my obsession with this website is silly, my family does not have anyone in it that even exercises once a week, they think going for a walk is going to make a change for them, they have exercise equipment sitting around the house that doesn't get used for years on end, but I love my family and I cant block them out.....gotta stay strong!
It is your life not theirs, they are negative because they know no other way, they fear that you will show them up to be failures and so they would rather you fail. Stay determined, dont be put down, in the end they will accept it, it takes years trust me, but you owe yourself not them! Good luck my friend :)
I went through the same thing-- different people filtered out of my life and new ones came in. They thought it was vain and obsessive and I kept explaining it was just commitment. The right people will get your training and diet. I love my family dearly but they didn't "get" or support me much when I first started out. 4.5 years later... now they get it! Hang in there!
I understand that for sure. My father has always been a hardcore gym fiend (I learned about this site from him), but him and my entire family have always considered my nutritional habits absurd and would always get quite annoyed with it. They still do, but I've been doing this for many years now as I try to be as healthy as I want to be. Pssh even when I go out with my friends they make fun of me for getting a turkey burger instead of a beef burger at places.
In short, I always said to them, I don't give a **** if you get annoyed because of how I eat. It's my body and I'm controlling it.
I definitely understand you man. As long as you believe in yourself and know that you are making an improvement, you'll be able to do great! My family thought it was silly at first, but now they know that i'm not just a mindless weight lifter.
Network with posative people id say is the most important aspect! Its a hard lonely road at times and keeping spirits up and enthusiasm high is the biggest task. You need good people around you :)
Thanks for this great article, I binged last night with cheetos and ice cream and couldn't stop feeling guilty awhile ago. This article really helped me think straight and get back on my feet again. Thank you!