By Debra Soufleris, B.S., DTR
Before you jump into a new fitness routine or nutrition plan, you need to evaluate your mindset. You can only achieve your long-term fitness goals if you truly believe you can reach them. “What you believe affects what you achieve.” Your mindset towards positive change can be a learned process that you work towards every day. The simple act of telling yourself “you got this” soon becomes a reality. It’s that slight shift in thinking that can help you become your best self as you visualize your goals.
Here are some things you can start doing today, in order to get your mindset right and achieve your health goals.
Chances are you already know that to become healthier, you should eat healthy foods and be more active. Usually, the bigger challenge has more to do with your mindset than a lack of basic health knowledge. It takes time to learn how to achieve our goals. One technique that has been proven effective is visualizing your results. Seeing yourself reaching your goals, and imagining what that feels like, is the first step in making them a reality. When we visualize achieving our goals, we begin to see and feel the possibility of reaching them.
There is a good reason why athletes use this technique as part of their training. Take note of any sport, such as when a golfer takes a practice swing just before an important shot, or when a football kicker swings his leg just prior to kicking a field goal. If we relate that to someone trying to lose weight, they can visualize themselves buttoning up their skinny jeans with ease, feeling comfortable and confident in their appearance. Perhaps a grandparent having the energy to play with their grandkids and living a life free from aches and pains. Whatever your goals are, it’s vital to visualize the positive impact it will have on your life once you achieve them. Seeing really is believing.
Many people start out on a new health quest with negative thoughts about themselves. They are focused on what’s “bad” about themselves such as a “big belly” or “love handles” instead of all the beautiful qualities they do have. They can be fixated on what they can’t eat instead of all the delicious things they can eat. This type of self-thought can be destructive, unproductive, and lead to failure. After all, our thoughts become our words, and our words become our actions. How you see yourself, and what you label yourself, is what you will become.
By shifting those negative thoughts into positive ones, we become more excited and energized about the road ahead. By changing your mindset to focus on all the good that can come from living a healthy lifestyle, you will be more motivated to reach your goals. Remind yourself that making healthy choices is a way of practicing self-care—and you deserve that. According to registered dietitian Laura Cipullo, author of Women’s Health Body Clock Diet: “Food is not a reward, and exercise is not a punishment. They are both ways of caring for your body and helping you feel your best.” When negative thoughts about yourself come into your head, stop and remind yourself that you deserve to feel your best—because you matter.
The more you are reminded about your goals, the more likely you are to work towards them. One of the best things you can do is keep a daily or weekly journal about your goals. This helps reinforce them and can keep you excited about the future. The practice of writing them down is much more powerful than just thinking about them. In this day in age where life can be extremely hectic, we can easily lose sight of our goals and forget about them. Journaling is so rewarding on many levels and one of the most effective ways to hold yourself accountable.
Other reminders can include having little sticky notes on your bathroom mirror or uploading new inspiring quotes on your computer that motivate you. Pulling out those skinny jeans and keeping them front and center when you open your closet can be a gentle reminder and help you stay on track. The benefit of these reminders is that you are constantly refreshing your goal-oriented mindset. The constant reminders will help push you towards your goals and keep you on track.
Having the right mindset prior to starting a new health goal is critical to your success. Visualizing yourself achieving your goals is very powerful. Being mindful of your inner dialogue and being kind to yourself will make your journey more purposeful. The more you are reminded of your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them.