Do you ever find yourself wondering why other women seem to be more successful than you at reaching their health and fitness goals?
Why your best friend can enjoy wine and dessert without ever gaining a pound, while you diligently stick to your lunchtime salad and can’t lose one? Why the woman on the spin bike next to you hardly breaks a sweat during a steep climb, while you’re barely keeping up and there’s a lake under your bike at the end of class? How the woman who’s always in the squat rack at the gym never seems to miss a day of training, while you struggle week after week with consistency?
Chances are your mindset is holding you back. Those unspoken beliefs about yourself, your abilities and your capacity for change.
Wondering if your head is hampering your progress?
Here are 5 signs your fitness mindset is holding you back:
- You’re resistant to trying a new approach, even when the old approach isn’t working (what’s that quote about the definition of insanity?)
- You use limitations as excuses (time, energy, equipment, injury…)
- You have unrealistic expectations and are quick to judge yourself
- You’re threatened by other women’s successes
- You’ve been convinced by the media that weight loss and muscle gain are easy (lose 10 pounds in a week!)
In my experience, women who make consistent progress towards their health and fitness goals share a few key attitudes;
- They focus on change and growth, rather than restriction and limitation. Exercise isn’t viewed as simply a way of cutting calories. Food isn’t ‘good’ or ‘bad‘, just a way to fuel your body to perform well and feel good. If the old approach to eating and exercise stops working (as it often does for women in their 40’s), they’re open to exploring new solutions. They see change as potential, not something that threatens and scares them.
- They concentrate on what they can do, rather than what they can’t. Limitations can either stop you cold or force you to work around them. Whether you’re working through a knee injury, don’t have much time for exercise or are travelling and don’t have access to your regular workout equipment and foods, focusing on the things you have control over and letting go of those you don’t is key to feeling good about the process.
- They have realistic expectations about outcomes and don’t castigate themselves when they don’t quite reach an anticipated milestone. Hurdles and obstacles to success are part of the process. When you expect and plan for them, they needn’t derail your progress. And knowing that it’s harder to build muscle and takes longer to lose weight in your 40’s and 50’s than it did when you were 30 can actually be liberating. It’s easier to enjoy the process (and all the peripheral benefits) when you’re not so focussed on the end game.
- They aren’t threatened by the success of other women. Success isn’t a zero-sum game. Just because your girlfriend can squat 100 pounds doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to some day as well. Her victory doesn’t come at the expense of yours. Celebrate the successes of other women and use them as motivation and inspiration rather than letting them trigger thoughts of inadequacy and failure.
- They don’t expect it to be easy and aren’t afraid of hard work. The biggest myth perpetuated by the fitness and weight loss industry is that results are yours for the taking. ’21 days to a bikini body’, ‘drop 2 dress sizes in a month’, ‘lose 10 pounds in a week’ headlines trick us into thinking that our goals can be met quickly and without very much effort. Expect the work to be challenging, but rewarding. Both during the process and ideally, for the rest of your life.
Remember, you already know everything you need to do to successfully reach your health and fitness goals. Don’t let your fitness mindset hold you back!