It Started as a Grind
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been an athlete playing sports. I did it all: dance, tennis, soccer, baseball, track and field, volleyball – the list goes on. In grade 8, when I was 13 years old, I discovered rugby through a unit in my Physical Education class. The rest was history. I played all throughout high-school and university, for 17 years straight. These times were definitely a grind; there were injuries and there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears shed that contributed to me being successful as an elite rugby player, and I loved it.
The initial impression from this journey was that – I believed that it was hard work that allowed me to be successful, not only as an athlete but also with my overall health and fitness. I had this end goal in my mind of wanting to be and play my best, always. At first, I didn’t know ‘how’ I would be successful, but I did trust the process as the years went on. It wasn’t until I became a Personal Trainer in 2016 that I realized that there was more than just hard work in order to be successful with health, fitness and/or being an athlete.
The Reality Check
When I first became a Personal Trainer in downtown Toronto, I was blessed with the opportunity to connect with clients from a variety of walks of life who were committed to their health and fitness.
As time went on, I started to notice patterns with my clients. I started to wonder why some clients were more successful than others. when I say successful, what I mean is that I used to ask myself: why is that some of my clients are able to achieve/exceed their goals and others are not? Even though they all worked hard, they were not all successful and this baffled my mind. I started to look deeper, I started to listen to their language and it was then and there that I discovered the key factor.
My clients who were the most successful were the ones who believed they could be successful. This means that they were at square one of their journey, but they too had the end goal in mind of what they wanted and who they wanted to become. They had a vision and they believed in it.
How Thoughts Become Things
The big question I want to ask you today is, what is it that you believe about your health and fitness?
Do you believe that others are more likely to succeed with their goals than you? Do you believe that it’s hard to be consistent? Or do you believe that if you miss a week of training or skip a salad that you’ve sabotaged all your progress? Do you believe that as you get older it’s more challenging to lose weight and stay fit?
What is it that you believe?
The reason why I ask you this is because when we come into this world, we are a blank slate. We have no beliefs engrained into our brains – everything that we know, everything that we know we don’t know, everything that we believe or don’t believe is, in fact, absorbed by the mind as a learned behaviour. We enter the world knowing nothing.
Thoughts become things – this is a classic quote floating around in the personal development world, so allow me to explain. Repeated thoughts in our minds become beliefs. What we think and believe then influences our actions and our actions are then what causes our results (or lack of results) in our life. These beliefs are the foundation of the reality that we create from our point of view of the world.
During the years I was playing rugby, I believed that if I worked hard I could be successful and that with time my efforts would pay off – therefore, I worked hard and I was successful. This may sound simple, but let me assure you, I spent a lot of time riding the bench and had many excuses to quit. What kept me going was my end goal and the beliefs I chose to focus on. These beliefs benefitted me because it empowered me to take action aligned with being an athlete – eating well, exercising, skill training, etc.
The next questions now are – what are you believing that is holding you back from achieving the goals you truly desire with your health and fitness and why are these beliefs self-sabotaging?
Self-Sabotage: The Ultimate Excuse
When we have goals in life we tend to think that ‘when we’re better, stronger, smarter, more experienced, etc. we’ll be able to achieve that goal’. If we believe we have to be someone who we are currently not to be successful, then we will never take action. Even if the mind believes we can ‘work towards’ our goal – the least we’ll do is begin to take action towards it.
When we work towards a goal, it is in the fact the ‘less experienced, less confident, less knowledgeable’ version of you that is doing the work to achieve the goal.
Being the better version of you is simply a consequence of you achieving the goal in the first place. What you want comes after the fact, not before, therefore wherever you are at in life is the perfect place to start.
So why do we self-sabotage?
Self-sabotaging allows us to stay in our comfort zone. Everything that we want in life, is outside of our comfort zone – including the ultimate vision for our optimal health and fitness in life. Self-sabotaging means that we trip ourselves the moment we’re about to cross the line into unfamiliar territories – aka a new level of success.
We self-sabotage to avoid unpredicted failure and to avoid looking bad. When we self-sabotage our health and fitness goals in order to stay in the familiar environment of what we know best, this allows the ego to be right. The ego loves being right, because being right means being safe.
Dealing With The Ego
So what is the ego, you ask?
The ego is that little voice in your head, the one that’s possibly agreeing or disagreeing with everything you’ve read so far in this article. The ego is often portrayed as ‘bad’ in the personal development world, however, the ego is needed because it is designed to protect us.
The way the ego works is that every time we’ve experienced failure, looking bad, negative feelings, etc., the ego makes a note in our mind to avoid those situations again, at all costs. This is the desperate recipe to survive in the world.
When we have a health and fitness goal, a goal that we’ve never achieved before, this means that the ego is now in ‘unchartered territories’, which also means ‘there’s a risk of failure or looking bad’ – so naturally, the ego will self-sabotage to keep you in your comfort zone to avoid any threats.
The key to overcoming self-sabotage is awareness. This is why I’ve been asking you – what is it that you believe? The self-limiting beliefs that you have, the negative beliefs and thoughts that hold you back, is the language of the ego trying to keep you safe and in your comfort zone.
If you’re reading this and suddenly having a realization as to why you have not yet achieved your goals – then congratulations, this is the first step to success!
Overcoming Self-Sabotage Using Your Belief System
This is one of my favourite mindset tactics when it comes to redefining our belief system. I’ve asked a few times now, what is it that you believe? This is the access point to redefining your mindset for success.
The way to shift your mindset beyond your self-limiting beliefs is to look for evidence around you that the goal you want for yourself, has already been achieved by others. Now, the sneaky part of this is that there may be a belief that pops up as I ask you this: “they achieved it, but I can’t because of X,Y,Z…” – I want you to ask yourself, who says that you cannot achieve what it is what you want?
The answer is you. And even if others are the ones telling you ‘you can’t do it’ – it’s still you choosing to agree or disagree with their belief system.
Therefore, if you are the one who decides what you believe – this means that you are limitless and you can choose to believe in whatever it is that you want.
This is the secret: proving your self-limiting beliefs wrong will neutralize what is holding you back in life. This is silencing the ego so that you can move beyond your comfort zone and achieve what it is that you want.
Here’s an example: “I believe that as I get older it’s more difficult to lose weight and stay in shape”
Is that entirely true? The answer is no. There are plenty of people who have achieved the best shape of their life in their later years!
Here’s another one: “I believe that it’s hard to be consistent”
Is that entirely true? Again, the answer is no. Search for evidence in your life of where you’ve been consistent. Finding evidence of consistency in your life means that you can apply consistency to your health and fitness goals. If you still believe it’s hard to be consistent – then let me ask you this, when did you decide that?
Once you’ve taken the time to question your self-limiting beliefs, ask yourself: what do I want to believe instead? What actions can I and will I take from this new belief system that I am creating for myself?
The End Game
Taking the time to check in with your beliefs, uncover your self-limiting beliefs, observe your self-sabotage, and prove these self-limiting beliefs wrong will allow you to move forward freely towards achieving your health and fitness goals. Looking inward at your mindset, rather than ‘looking outward for the perfect program or meal plan’ will empower you beyond what you currently think is possible for yourself – if there was the only way to achieve goals, then why are multiple people successful with different methods?
This mindset shift is a journey. Have compassion for yourself as you navigate this new way of thinking. Allow yourself to go through the ebbs and flows of redesigning your belief system.
It took me almost 30 years to realize: I may have worked hard for 17 years to be successful as a rugby athlete, but the roots of all of this came from my belief system. I had a vision, I believed I could thrive. I believed I could overcome my injuries. I believed I could manage being an athlete while also balancing other areas of my life. I believed it was my vision that allowed me to take successful action, therefore you can do the same. Doing the inner work is the key to your success. Your dreams and desires all started from a thought in your mind. Your success, with anything in your life, starts and ends with your mindset.