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  • Writer's pictureDarren Tebbenham

Mindset Matters

Given the sheer volume of people around the world who struggle with their weight, health and fitness, most of whom have tried many different diet plans and fitness regimes - the truth is combined literally tens of thousands of nutrition approaches and thousands upon thousands of different exercise plans have failed to produce the result for which they were intended. If you are looking for an approach you haven’t yet tried, trust me - it has already failed many thousands of people before you. You see, the answer does not lie “out there” in a special type of exercise or a unique approach to nutrition. When it comes to losing weight and getting fit, there is no secret ingredient.

Instead, the single most important factor when it comes to losing weight, getting fit, indeed, succeeding in any endeavour - is mindset? But what is mindset? How does it interfere with our best intentions and sabotage our best efforts to lose weight and get fit? Indeed, if we find ourselves consistently falling short when it comes to achieving our ideal health, weight or fitness might we be forming a very limiting mindset around our weight, health and fitness? And for that matter, if we have - what can we do about it? How do we create a different and more successful mindset? And if we don’t, what might be the consequence in the longer term? In fact, let's make this really easy for us to get our heads around. You see, understanding and mastering mindset so you can go on to master your own health and fitness is simple, just not that easy. When it comes to getting fit, losing weight and feeling comfortable again in your own skin it really doesn’t matter what particular nutrition plan you follow, and it doesn’t matter what specific exercise plan you adopt. What matters is whether you actually do it and see through your good intentions. Despite the fact that the vast majority of people around the world fail when it comes to losing weight and getting fit, some actually succeed. And of those who do, there are very few similarities between their approaches. Some cut the carbs whilst others count calories. Some use intermittent fasting whilst others simply stop snacking between meals and reduce their portion sizes. The same is true for exercise too. Some walk themselves into great shape whilst others commit to high intensity fitness regimes. What is clear, however, is that one thing unites ALL successes when it comes to permanent lasting change! And that is mindset. The single most important factor when it comes to creating lasting change is the switch that seems so vital in our minds.

So, what is mindset? Mindset relates to the way in which our minds are set based on our assumptions, beliefs and experiences of the world. Of course, they are highly re-programmable and although complex in design, are simple in concept when it comes to re-setting them for success. There are three ingredients we need when trying to develop a winning mindset. These are Clarity, Focus and Resilience.

Clarity is about creating a crystal-clear vision about the new outcomes we desire or intend in our lives. Focus is about where we put our attention to bring about repeated new actions that better serve us. And resilience is about mental toughness, the degree to which we effectively deal with set-back and struggles along the journey. With these three components in place, it doesn’t matter about the specific nutrition approach or exercise regime one chooses to adopt and then integrate into one’s life, the result is all but assured! The first concept to embrace is Intention - Attention balance. One’s intention is about creating this clarity about what it is one wants; it is about vision and desire. The problem is most people either don't know what this is or change their mind, like all the time. This might not seem such a big deal, not being sure or changing your mind all the time, but it plays havoc with your mind. It really does. You see, your mind, particularly your unconscious mind – the part of your mind that runs on autopilot is a bit like Google. You type in what you are looking for and Google does the rest. Except Google has no concept of right or wrong; it doesn't know what will serve you and what will likely not. It just gives you what you ask for.

Of course, if you keep changing your search criteria you're just going to keep getting more and more information back. If you are not specific enough in what you are searching for and punch in too broad a search term, again you will get back lots and lots, of now, very general information. And, you see, information in excess creates confusion and overwhelm and, ultimately distracts you from the original intention behind your search criteria you set out with in the first place. All too often I hear people declare “from Monday I’m on it” only to find by Friday, glass of wine in hand (after a tough week of course) they are indeed “on it”, just not as they had intended. And on Monday, they try something new. It is interesting. People seem to search high and low for an easier approach. They hope for a magic-formula exercise regime, or a fat busting herb harvested in Outer Mongolia to support their ideals about how they would like their weight, health and fitness to be. But every single time, their efforts fall short. And, you know, as people discover more and more about keto-diets and weight loss hormones, and metabolic boosting spices and high intensity fat burning workouts and special bands, potions and lotions, ultimately they are rendered helpless, frozen by the sheer volume information coming back - unable to move forwards with any kind of certainty. Sound familiar? Now, become clearer about what you are looking for from the start, precise and consistent in your approach and disciplined and focused in your execution, and you WILL find what you are looking for. Google can serve you well when searching specifically for what you are after. And your unconscious mind will begin to serve you too, as you get clearer about what you truly want and become more consistent in the vision and message, therefore, you hand over to your unconscious. Your unconscious will then seek out what you most need and help you quickly become more successful in the pursuit of your goals. The reality is for most, this is far from what we do. Therefore, it is imperative we first get clear, visualise and clarify exactly what it is we want and why we actually want it. Next we must compare this with what we currently have and are experiencing. This requires us to get real and be honest with ourselves, for the truth shall surely set up free. We need to get clear on how our poor health, weight and fitness is showing up in our lives, affecting our relationships, negatively influencing others and pulling us from truly being happy in ourselves. Think about this for a minute. What is your current condition in terms of your energy levels, health, fitness and weight costing you? Where will you be in another year from now if nothing changes, indeed, if things continue to get worse? How much do you want to move from here to where you visualised you want to be? Clarify your intention now. Create a gap between where you want your health and fitness to be and how it will better serve you, and others you care for, compared with where you currently are. The power is in this gap.

Want to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. Next, one’s Attention is all about what we are focusing on. We get what we focus on. Wherever it is you find yourself and your body and health right now is as a direct consequence of what you have been focusing on in the past. It isn’t by accident, bad luck or as a consequence of your genes. And where your focus is right now will determine what you experience in the future. And so, to get something different means to change your focus. This is a universal law of success. Let me ask you, do you focus on what you currently have or what you don’t have? Think about this for a moment. What about your kids, if you have any - do you focus on what they do right or what they do wrong? What about your relationships - do you focus on other people’s strengths or what most bugs you about them? You can pick anything. Your finances, health or happiness. And it’s really easy to figure out what you have been focusing on. You just need to notice what you are getting in that arena of your life. Remember your mind is like Google. The simple search term you type in determines the information and, therefore, result that comes back. Whatever you type into Google, it finds. Once you set your intention, you need to then shape your attention to focus on the right things and consistently so. Perhaps take some time out now to think about what you have been focusing on. This is what I mean by Intention - Attention balance. Know what you want and prioritise it. Of course, this sounds simple, right? And I did say at the beginning that is was. But it isn’t necessarily easy to do. You see, we build up patterns of thinking and feeling and ultimately behaving over time. And these can become quite automated. Our minds do like safety. And any challenge or threat to the status quo will likely be met with resistance. Therefore, how we go about making changes in our lives must be done strategically. One thing is for sure. Following someone else’s plan that threatens reward pathways you may have built up over time, will fail. There are reasons why you eat and drink what you do, for example. And you currently experience rewards for doing so. These rewards occur in your mind’s chemistry especially when reinforced over a long time. Your brain experiences great pleasure when it comes to what you eat and drink. And taking pleasure away in the wrong way, only makes you crave them even more. And ultimately your brain can, without you even knowing, self-sabotage your efforts to get what it wants – the rewards back from enjoying wine-O-clock, not-so-healthy but terribly yummy food and the social buzz when sharing with others. And do you know what? It also knows you. It knows you try and smash it then crash. It knows your weaknesses. It knows your habits around your weight, health and fitness and so it really is one step ahead. The next time you decide to tackle this problem, you might like to take a different approach. An approach that is mindset and habits-based.

When you adopt a more flexible approach and decide for yourself about the changes you will make – well, this changes everything! When you learn to deal with your brain’s natural responses to changes, again you will get a very different result than you have been getting. To be clear. The specific nutrition plan doesn’t matter. The specific exercise regime doesn’t matter. How you go about implementing the plan and managing your mindset, does. We all have experienced two voices in our heads. One seemingly on our side. The other, well not. And we battle with these voices.

Learn to create partnership between these voices and never again will you struggle with this aspect of your life. Indeed, master this, and master any aspect of your life. Master this and understand how you did so and empower others to do the same.

Let’s switch back to answering the question how to create focus. Remember Intention - Attention balance. One of the BEST tools for managing our focus is goal setting. And when I say this to most people, they nod. It’s just hardly anyone ever actually sets goals, never mind properly. We know from sport and business that high level performers master this tool and use it to their advantage. My background is in sport psychology where goal setting alone can be the single most important factor when it comes to distinguishing between those who win and those who fall short. And I know you are not wanting to be a top-level sports person. But I have to tell you, you will likely need to adopt some of the tools of top-level sports performers if you are to finally achieve success in your health and fitness. I can share with you through experience that more successful clients, when it comes to weight loss for example, simply goal-set better than less successful clients. When you take the time to create meaningful weight loss goals, indeed finance and relationship goals for that matter, you get a better result in that area of your life. But goal setting is a skill and needs to be done well for it to be effective. Done properly “action” goals direct your daily behaviours, maintain your focus, offer amazing ways to keep you positive and confident about your progress and serve you well along the journey from where you currently are to where you want to be. However, often goal setting isn’t done well, and all too often without clear systems of accountability. And without such accountability, of course, people continue to struggle. And that’s where a coach comes in. When it comes to sports and business and successful weight loss, having a coach dramatically increases your chance of success. For some from zero to a 100%! I mean a coach helps you get clear, like crystal clear, about what you want. A coach helps you become more accountable and a coach helps you own the journey.

You really don’t need another diet plan or another gym membership you just don’t use. You need clarity and focus. And with Clarity and Focus in place, the third crucial element for lasting success is resilience. You know, it’s not about the weight loss or the end result at all. It’s about putting your mind to something you previously have struggled with and nailing it. It’s about finding that self-discipline needed to succeed. It’s about taking life by the scruff of the neck and making it the way you want it through health and fitness. Here’s another thought for you. Have you considered what the cost would be of not getting this right? Leaving the very cause of your weight, health or fitness problem unchecked? Well only you can answer this, of course. But people tell me the cost is their inner confidence and sense of self. People tell me it costs them more than just looking better. It can negatively affect their relationships and even influences their children. It certainly causes low energy levels, self-esteem and can show up in every other aspect of their life. Indeed, not taking back control of your weight, health and fitness once and for all, for many, is the single most important thing they could take back control of that would most positively affect their life. You? Darren T


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