Written by Gregory Damian
In online fitness groups there are daily posts from people reaching out for help because their fitness progress has stalled. Perhaps their weight loss has plateaued. Typical responses to help this person vary around the themes of move more and eat less. They are offered suggestions on the latest movement or diet craze. This is not necessarily bad advice, but this is not what I suggest. If the person has not clearly stated their goals, I ask, “what are you looking to accomplish and by when?” Often the poster only has a vague notion of what they are looking to accomplish like, “I want to lose some weight.” If they don’t have a clear goal, I encourage them to get specific about what they want to accomplish, and why.
SMART goals are best. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Measured. Without a SMART goal we might accomplish something valuable, but most of the time we will not because we are not focused. Goals tied to events such as a race or a show are particularly effective because there is a specific measurable outcome on a specific date, and the outcome is clear. The irony is that chance of failure is what keeps many people from creating these kinds of goals. Too much emphasis is put on the possibility of failure. If a man had a goal of reaching 6% body fat to compete in a body building show and achieved 7%, it is wrong to label that as failure. Many good things happened on this journey especially if the starting point was 20% body fat. Without the specific goal he would likely still be at 20% body fat.
A reason that people do not set stretch goals is due to limiting beliefs. If you do not believe that you can lose weight or deserve to be on a stage showing off your physique then you have disqualified yourself before even starting. Beliefs drive our subconscious which is where most of our behavior is determined. Beliefs are usually formed before age eight, and we usually are not aware of how they are controlling our life. (1)
A belief inventory is a way to understand our beliefs, but the level of introspection necessary to create a belief inventory is high. Bruce Lipton, PhD, says if you want to understand your beliefs look at your life. Where you have been successful in your life is where you likely have empowering beliefs. Where you have failed, or not even tried, is where you likely have disempowering beliefs. There are also assessments you can take like the Core Belief Inventory from Corner Canyon Consulting (2) and the Implicit Association Test from Harvard (3). When I took the Harvard test, it surprisingly revealed my unconscious biases.
Beliefs can be changed. We can use affirmations to reinforce beliefs we want to have once we are aware of beliefs that are not serving us. Here are a few common disempowering beliefs along with examples of transforming them to positive, empowering beliefs:
From: “I am not capable of being healthy.”
To: “I am getting healthier every day.”
From: “I can never have visible abs.”
To: “I can achieve anything I decide to with my body.”
From: “The longer I live, the harder it is to change and adapt.”
To: “The longer I live, the easier life gets.”
Changing beliefs takes time. Although it is a great start, do not expect to change your beliefs by stating a positive affirmation once. Say it every day and when times get tough.
Even a SMART goal supported by positive beliefs might not be enough to get a goal accomplished. The missing component can be motivation. What is your why? Decide on why you want your outcome. Your why is what you can fall back on when times get tough. Why do you want to finish the race or be on stage? Your why could be for health reasons like a warning from your doctor to improve your health, or your why could be to prove to yourself or to other people that you are capable of something outstanding.
Here is the formula for achieving success.
- Do not be limited by disempowering beliefs. Identify them and change them with positive affirmations.
- Set a SMART goal.
- Leverage the SMART goal with a strong motivation or why.
Do not forget to celebrate little successes along the way and know that progress is not a straight line. There likely will be small setbacks, especially if your goal is a grand one. Your motivation will help you prevent a small setback from becoming a large one. You can also add some accountability by publicly announcing your goal. For even more leverage add a nice reward for achieving your goal.
Of course, this approach works well for any aspect of your life, not just physical. I love inspiring people to live their best life. My mission is to assist men over 50 overcome perceived limits of their age by applying my four step DOLRTM system. To learn more please visit www.absat60.com.