Whether you think you can, or think you can’t – you’re right ~ Henry Ford
When starting a new exercise or nutrition program, most people focus solely on the external behavioural changes they need to make in order to see results.
The number of days they need to work out. How many reps and sets of each exercise they’re expected to perform. Keeping daily calorie intake within a certain range. Drinking enough water. Making sure they’ve packed their gym bag and left it by the front door.
While each of these contributes to success, in my experience, mindset trumps them all.
According to the dictionary:
This is precisely why, in addition to providing exercise and nutrition recommendations to my clients, I also work with them to create mindsets that set them up for success.
3 Mindset shifts for midlife fitness success
Mindset shift #1 : Become the driver of your own health
With all of the conflicting information about exercise and nutrition available to us (not to mention the hundreds of programs out there promising ‘guaranteed’ or ‘money back results’…), it’s not surprising that many people feel overwhelmed and confused about what the ‘best’ fitness and nutrition approach for them might be.
Rather than passively following the ‘program of the week’, choose an activity that you enjoy and a way of eating that you can actually stick with for the long term. When it comes to fitness and health, what matters most is consistency. Do anything consistently and for long enough and you’re bound to see results.
Pay attention to how your body feels and adjust accordingly. Get out of the back seat and become the driver of your own health.
Mindset shift #2: Stop looking in your rear view mirror
Regardless of what we’d like to believe, age changes us all. In many cases for the better; just think how much more confident, resilient and comfortable in your own skin you are now, as compared to the 20-year old version of yourself!
The things we don’t like? Greying hair, wrinkles, memory lapses, muscle loss and fat gain. They’re all part of the natural process of aging.
While we can do things to slow them down (hello exercise and whole foods…), we’re never going to look like our 20- (or even 30-) year old selves again. Expecting to wear the same size jeans you wore before those three pregnancies is unrealistic (for many of us). As is expecting your 50-year old body to once again weigh what you did in your 20’s.
Instead of comparing your ‘now’ you to a younger version of yourself, look ahead and picture how you’d like the ‘future’ you to look (and feel and perform). Find a same-aged or older role model for inspiration. If she can do it, so can you.
Mindset shift #3: Stop confusing acceptance with giving up
I’ve had potential clients say to me, “What’s the point in exercising regularly and eating better if I’m just going to get old and wrinkled anyways?”
In addition to being a completely defeatist mindset, this attitude ignores all the non-aesthetic benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle; increased energy, better range of motion, more pain-free days, being able to continue doing all the activities that you love, sleeping better, reducing your risk of cancer and other life-limiting diseases, etc., etc., etc.
Acceptance isn’t the same as giving up. Giving up means that you’ve stopped trying. That you no longer believe there’s room for improvement and that your actions have consequences. In contrast, acceptance allows for the possibility of change. It requires self-compassion, self-awareness and self-love.
The key is to set realistic and relevant goals, goals that will help you reach that ‘future’ version of yourself; strong, healthy and happy!
As we knitters say, aim to be a “work in progress” (WIP), rather than a “finished object” (FO).
Have you experienced a shift in mindset that’s helped you to reach your health and fitness goals?