3 mindset changes that helped me get in shape
Without fact-checking this, I dare to say that everyone wants to be fit. At least I haven’t heard anyone saying “I can’t wait to reach 50% body fat”. And by fit, I don’t mean looking like the Instagram models or training as a professional athlete. In all simplicity — it’s just about exercising and eating right, to feel good. When you feel good — you’re happier, more productive, have fewer injuries, etc.
But getting in shape is difficult, and most of us struggle with it — and I’m no exception. However, over the past couple of years,’ I’ve slowly changed my mindset and that has put me on the right(or at least a better) path. Here are three things that have helped me.
Don’t look at exercise as exercise.
The best example of this is probably running. Most people that start running hate it. It’s difficult and, for many, it hurts. That was the case for me when I started training for my first marathon. Most of the time I wasn’t excited to go for a run. One of the reasons was that I didn’t train the right way (read how to start running here), but the main thing was that I looked at it as an exercise — something I had to do.
At some point, I started looking at it differently. I started seeing all the good things, which for me were:
- I actually get to move. As a business owner that may sit by the computer for up to 15 hours during a day, getting the blood flowing is much needed.
- I get to clear my mind. So for the same reasons as the previous point, getting away from computer and phone screens for a while is a must. Many times I’ve worked on a problem for a while without solving it, then going for a run and coming back feeling more productive and with a clear mind — ending up solving the problem quickly!
- Reflect/think. Continuing on the previous point, we spend way too much time staring at our screens. If we’re not working, we’re checking social media or watching TV. I’ve noticed that I’m having trouble actually thinking — whether it’s about work, life, how I feel, etc. If I have spare time, instead of sitting down and actually thinking and reflecting, I might be scrolling through Instagram or watching a Youtube video. So when I started to embrace the fact that going for a run gave me some time alone with my thoughts, it was much easier.
- Explore new places. Even just around where I live, there are so many places I wouldn’t have seen if it wasn’t for running.
- Listen to ebooks or podcasts. I normally don’t have time to listen, so going for a run gives me the time to do it. Learning and exercising at the same time is a win-win.
- It can even be as easy as putting on some great music and enjoying the sunny weather.
Find the beneficial things for you, and think about them instead of the actual exercise!
“Life is like a marathon”
We all have heard and read the quote. It sounds cliché, but it’s a good way to look at things. Forget all the 30-day diets and exercise plans. I’m not saying that all of them are bad or that they don’t work — but when your mindset should be to stay healthy for the rest of your life, a 30-day plan isn’t what you’re looking for. You might lose a lot of weight during those 30 days by starving yourself and by exercising a lot, but what happens when you’re “done”? For most of us, we don’t exercise as much (because we don’t have the plan, i.e. we don’t “have to”) and we eat all the bad foods that we skipped during the 30 days.
Make small adjustments along the way and stick to them. Don’t go on a strict diet, start by cutting down different things. If you love sodas and drink 5 cans every day, start off by cutting down to 1–2 cans. If you eat pizza every day, start by cutting it down to 1–2 times per week. It might take years to get where you want to be, but it’s worth it. By doing it slowly, it’s easier to stick to it.
Same thing for the exercise, but the other way — don’t start by working out every day for hours and hours. Start slow, and increase the intensity and duration along the way.
Realize that food is fuel.
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this before I started endurance training. Working out 1–2 times per day, 6–7 days a week — I quickly realized that BigMac meals will not be good fuel before a workout nor be the proper nutrition after a workout to optimize recovery. This point isn’t about fueling yourself to be an endurance athlete, it’s just what it took for me to get there. After making these changes to my nutrition, I have much more energy throughout the day and feel much more productive. And let’s not forget the long-term benefits of eating healthy! Don’t just connect bad foods with a bigger belly — also realize that they will increase the risk of different diseases, like diabetes/cancer/etc., down the road.