When most people first jump into the positive chaos of changing your present fitness it can be appear to be a daunting and intimidating journey. To be a better version of yourself you will need to improve your physical capabilities, change what you eat and how you make a lot of different decisions. There are two reasons I believe that physical transformation is difficult and I’ll be speaking mostly about fat loss since that is what I know. This task is exceptionally difficult because first, you must sacrifice things you are accustomed to and enjoy in some way (less than healthy lifestyles and foods) while initially gaining very little discernable benefits (I’ll be writing in the future on how to combat this aspect). The second challenge which is the topic of this blog, is that few people have genuine examples within their social circle or family, of people who have really succeeded in making lasting and healthy change in their health and wellbeing. This is why testimonials and before and after pictures are used so heavily in the billion-dollar weight loss industry. Look at person X, they are just like you and they did this 5 minutes work out or took a miracle pill/shake and now they are exactly like you want to be and it was easy. Except it’s not and almost all of these examples are less than honest. However, it is not a lost cause. But it might require a mindset change and the ability to look outside of the experiences you and your network of friends and family have had with health and fitness. If you are fortunate enough to know people that have succeeded in the kind of fitness and lifestyle changes you want to make, look closely at all the things you share in common (both good and bad) and recognise that they probably started out very similar to you with the same challenges and opportunities. Then model what you can on their experience and lean on them for help because they have walked the path before.
Now we come to the heart of the problem for many. What to do if you feel alone in this battle and that making all the changes and sacrifices are just too difficult and that you aren’t up to the challenge? To start with your going to have to find ammunition, but of a different kind of calibre than some of you might be used to. For psychologist Alfred Bandura, “the most effective way of developing a strong sense of efficacy is through mastery experiences.” Performing a task successfully strengthens our sense of self-efficacy and the bigger the success the more we are emboldened by it. Succeeding at difficult, daunting and challenging tasks is like a power up or boost to our own personal sense of efficacy, the idea that we can be successful. The first task for people when they feel intimidated or that they are failing to meet the challenge of their new fitness and health regime, should be to make a mental list of the big things they have accomplished in their life. The bigger, more bad ass and hard earned the result, the better. They don’t have to be fitness related and frankly for those starting out, they probably aren’t going to be. Start with your proudest accomplishments, military or civil service, charitable work or community involvement, raising children is an often neglected source of awesomeness, and when you are done stack all of those great things you’ve done on top of each other. By the time you are done you should hopefully have built up an large enough arsenal of the things you’ve done that you are proud of and that you have accomplished in any aspect of your life with which you can build a touchstone for when things get tough. Then say to yourself, “I did x, y, and z which were incredibly difficult and if that didn’t stop me, break me or defeat me, then eating breakfast is nothing, then lifting some weights or planning my eating can’t beat me either.” Build up this ammunition as you slowly work towards any kind of improvement physical or otherwise and there is nothing you won’t be able to take down.