step by step process: how to change your mindset

Hi Ladies. It's Gill here, Power Lifting and Strength Coach at MFW Fitness Studio. I'm going to talk about mindset. This is a bit of a follow on from my little chat that I did a month or so ago about forming positive habits.

"Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." That's George Bernard Shaw, if anybody's wondering.

What we need to do sometimes to make progress, to make our habits more enjoyable and make our things that we are trying to change in our lives stick, is to change our attitude to them. So this sort of came to me the other day. It was hammered home to me the other day. I was talking with someone who said, “I hate exercise. I've always hated exercise”. And I thought, wouldn't it be interesting if this person could just change her attitude to exercise, because in actual fact she was very good at it. And she was quite determined… but she was also determined to keep having it in her “hate box”.

I'm asking her to try to connect to her exercise in a different way, to when she comes in to try to not put those words in her head. To try to think about one of the things that she enjoys from her sessions. So that for me, that is always remembering how it makes me feel. Now it happens for me very quickly. I step into my workout. Sometimes I'm very reluctant to go to the gym. I have to kind of talk myself into it, like lots of people. What I have to do is connect to how good I feel as soon as I've started. Like, as soon as I've started. Soon as I've got into the gym, I've got to start, you know, doing my warmups and I'm there and I'm feeling better.

And then the other thing I remember, if that doesn't get me there, it's how I feel when I'm finished. Which is, I remember this distinctly, because I've tried to remember it. I feel good. I feel virtuous. I feel like I've done something good and I feel really good. I've got endorphins. I've kicked in the dopamine. I'm feeling like this is how I should feel. I feel like I've got energy and I feel so much better.

So before, when I'm sitting here arguing with myself about going to the gym, those are the feelings, I very deliberately bring out. And before you know it, I've got into my exercise gear and I'm out the door and it's done.

Sometimes I don't need to, but sometimes when it's cold outside or it might be raining or I've just got a whole lot of other things I want to do, these are the things that I bring into my head and this is what changes my mindset. It's deliberately changing it. Now I tap into it quite easily and I do it without thinking, but you need to check yourself, especially in the beginning when you are initiating change.

So, to get that happening, I think it's really useful to really when you say come to a class or a group session or a PT session, is to put other things aside, put other work issues, children, the family, and make this session about you and focus in on your session and focus in on your reps and how you feel. And you should be counting your reps and you should be focusing on what's working. And if you don't understand, what's supposed to be working then ask! These are all ways to tap into how you're feeling.

One of the things that I noticed that people that enjoy exercise, well, I know this is a bit weird, but make yourself smile, sit there and smile. It's actually fun! Well, you know, getting the whole hot and sweaty thing, going, is sort of fun! It makes me feel better and it makes other people feel better when they see you smiling.

Try to acknowledge your feelings and try to tap into the bits that you feel good about. It might just be at the end, that feeling of relief! It's almost always accompanied by a slight feeling of virtuousness I find, and you can pat yourself on the back. You can feel proud of yourself for doing it. You can feel like you won that one today. You got a little bit of time for yourself. You stepped towards your goals. You did those things. Actually think about it. Don't just run out the door and that's it. Try to tap into those things and try to reinforce them in your head.

Then, when you have those times when you're reluctant to go and you're trying to talk yourself out of it, those are the things you want to try to remember. These are the thoughts that start to take up more space in your head and these are the thoughts that change your mindset. Your brain has elasticity. Your brain can change. You can change your mind.

So, before you come to your sessions, have a little brief think. What am I trying to do here? You know, what am I working towards? I want to get strong. I want to get fit. That's what you say when you're lying in bed going, “it's really cold and I don't wanna go!”

Now you must practice. Practice isn't the thing you do once you are good. It's the thing you do that makes you good. People who are really good at things because they practiced it. They reached the goal because they practiced it and going to the gym every day or three times a week or two times a week or once a week, is your practice. And that's, you are trying to get good at; being stronger, fitter and being healthier.

So practice is really important and sort of think of it like that. It's not always about being perfect. You're not always gonna lift the heaviest thing or move the fastest, but it's about going there and getting it. When I was a kid, I was terrible, in fact appalling at sports. All sports except horse riding. I was good at horse riding because I practiced.

My sister was very talented at all sorts of sports, and I used to just go, “I'm terrible” at it and she was really good at all sorts of things. She would always get medals and win the prizes and I was always a bit jealous of her victories. But she practiced. She practiced all the time. She was always going to training. She was always banging the tennis ball up against the back wall, or she was always chucking the softballs, practicing, throwing. She was kind of amazing to watch actually.

It took me years later, when I was doing a sort of a “brain training course” and one of the things they had us do every day was practice ball skills. And I used to go, “oh seriously, no, this is gonna be really bad. I can't catch a ball. I can't catch a ball. I can't throw a ball!” And you know what we had to do, we had to do it. It was really interesting because you know what happened? I got much, much better at throwing balls and I practiced so much, I taught myself how to catch a ball in the end!

Mindset. It's really important. It's worth trying to change it. It's worth checking your attitudes to things that you've fixed in and inspecting them and trying to get some change happening. And you might just find that you actually change and that's what life is all about.

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