Mind games

Photo by Rachael Kelly.
Photo by Rachael Kelly.
Losing weight can be hard work, but, as Gary Dawkins, of Creative Conditioning at River Ridge Retreat, writes, the toughest part isn't in the gym.

To anyone looking on, someone battling to carve fat from their figure and achieve some health and fitness goals is involved in a physical struggle.

It's the arms and legs that are pumping away and the lungs that are sucking in the big breaths.

But the most important battleground when it comes to fat-loss health and fitness goals, is, in fact, the mind.

Indeed, it has been estimated that the mind accounts for about 85% of the likelihood of a person achieving their goals. The remaining 15% consists of other components, such as exercise type and quantity, nutrition, resting metabolic rate, gender, stress levels etc.

Despite this, most of the readily available information on health and fitness concentrates on the components that make up that 15%, remaining relatively silent on the decisive 85%.

Think about it for a moment.1. How long has it taken you to form your current habits? Years and years, I bet.2. How hard is it to change the way you think when it comes to subjects that involve strong emotions? Changing the way you think about losing weight can fall fairly neatly into that category, making it extremely hard to get a new perspective.

Rather than challenge ourselves to think beyond the way we have always behaved, it is easy to simply keep reading the latest exercise and nutrition fads. We can put off the evil day by reassuring ourselves we will start our new weight-loss plan tomorrow, based on the new exercise and nutrition information we have just learned about. Yet tomorrow seldom arrives.

Research suggests that most people experience their best long-lasting fat-loss health and fitness results when they are forced to. This usually follows an extremely ''painful'' event in their lives. For example, maybe the doctor has recently diagnosed the early signs of diabetes.

Let me ask a couple of questions.

Would it be easier to learn about the tools that, when applied to you, will lead to rapid and long-lasting health and fitness results? Or is it easier to wait until there is enough pain in your life to ''force'' you to make the necessary changes?

Over the past 16 years as a personal trainer I have only ever observed lasting positive changes in my clients' health and fitness when they have changed their thinking and then acted on this change. And by this I mean their long-term thinking. Remember this: anyone can sail a ship in calm seas. It takes a real ''captain of their thoughts'' to sail a ship in rough seas.

When people incorporate the latest behavioural change techniques into their lives, significant change is possible almost immediately. There are many ways to apply the correct behavioural change tools. For some people it requires a complete reshuffle of their values and where they prioritise health and fitness in their ''life values'' list.

I find this technique of values elicitation very interesting. Often when people write down their values they afford health and fitness a high placing on their list. But when we dig deeper and find out how they are actually living on a daily basis we determine that, in fact, health and fitness are given little priority. For example, someone may place health and fitness at No 2 on their list - sitting just behind family, but following a daily nutrition analysis it may emerge that they have takeaways for dinner six nights a week. It is obvious then that this person does not value health and fitness as highly as they think they do.

Make a change
Some tools to use now to change some habits. -
• Write a full page on how the way you think about fat loss has negatively affected your ability to achieve the results you want. Be honest.
• Write down a list of 20 values you have in life. These values may include family, career, education, and health and fitness, and so on.
• Now write down these 20 values in the order you have been living them by. Do not write them down in the order you wish you were living them. Again, be honest.
• Now carefully select the seven values from this list that are most important to you now and into the future.
• This process will provide new insights to you immediately. It is the first step in helping you to change any habits not aligned with your fat-loss desires.

Did you know?
• For 80% of people, gym memberships are a complete waste of money. Research suggests that only 20% to 25% of people who sign up to a long-term gym membership actually keep going any longer than three weeks. Yet they keep paying for at least 12 months.
• Why? Because their mind is not willing to do what they ''think'' they dislike - exercise and/or healthy eating.
• If these 80% of people do not want to waste any more hard-earned money, they have only one option - learn the correct behavioural change techniques that work for them first, and then sign up to a gym.


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