About Exercise

The 4 Keys To Changing Your Mindset

Written by Michael Dermansky – Senior Physiotherapist – MD Health

At the start of each spring (when the sun starts to come out) or at the beginning of the year, it’s easy to make the decision that this is the time “I’m going to get fit” or “I’m going to lose that weight”.  However, saying it and actually doing it can be different things.  Often, it requires a real mindset shift beyond the initial step and making exercise a habit and a consistent part of your life.

The following are the real mindset changes we need to see with our clients who are successful in making the step from an idea into action.

1. Motivation – The Real Outcome You Want From Exercise

The short-term goals are never enough and you have to have a real long-term reason for the change. Click to Tweet

For example, “I want to lose 5 kilos for bikini season” is rarely enough to sustain you through an exercise program when things get tough, time becomes short or something doesn’t go occurring to plan (and something always goes wrong).  A good, focused long-term goal such as “I want to get to and maintain a healthy weight because I want to minimise my risk of diabetes” is more likely to sustain your motivation when things don’t follow the expected, ideal linear path.

The biggest issue here is long-term sustainability.  The most common “tragedy” we all see as health and exercise professionals are the keen exerciser at the start of spring who is going to “exercise every day, as hard as possible for the next 3 months”.  This never works and they are lucky to make it to the end of the first week when the normal sensation of DOMS (Delayed onset of muscle soreness) kicks in or an overuse injury happens early in the process because they haven’t developed the initial strength to be able to cope with such a workload.

Sensible moderation and a long-term goal are better long-term motivations for change.  People tend to overestimate what they can achieve in 3 months, but underestimate what they can do in 1-2 years.  Be moderate, sensible and keep going.  You’ll be amazed at how fast the time passes and what you have achieved when you look back after a good 12 months of training.

2. Agency – Showing That You Will Actually Do The Work

There is a big difference between the people who say they want to make a change and those who actually take the steps to change.  This demonstrates a degree of “agency”, the ability to take control of your actions and do the work.

Agency is taking the steps to begin your exercise program.  It is the steps to keep going when you don’t feel like getting up in the morning and doing your second session of the week.  It is the modification you need to make to your program when you have an injury and you need to take a step backwards in order to take a step forward.

It is NOT, blaming the weather, the lack of time or the circumstances of your life for the reason you have not made the changes or done the work required to make the change.  Everyone has pressures in their lives, have a reason to say “it’s just too hard” and quit.

Agency is taking the positive steps to take responsibility for your own life and the next step forward to make the change you want to achieve.   It is not about perfection, but about progress, one step after the other until you look back and are amazed at the progress you’ve achieved after 12 months of training (see step 1 – motivation).

3. Trust – Being Open To Ask For Help

One of the most important mindset steps in achieving positive change is being confident enough to ask for help from qualified professionals as required.

No one expects you to know what you are doing when you first start a new activity and exercise programs are the same.  Asking and getting advice from a qualified exercise or health professional is often a great place to start.

The role of a good, qualified professional is to guide you through your strengths, and weaknesses and where you should begin your journey.  Their role is also to ensure your technique is correct and that you get the most from your program, in accordance with your short and long-term goals.

And remember, it is never too late to ask for advice, especially if you have developed an injury from your training.  A good professional will take your current circumstances into account, alter your program (with respect to your injury if needed) and put you back on the right track.  It does sometimes mean stepping back to move forward, but your aim is the long term and to be amazed at the progress you’ve achieved when you look back after 12 months (see step 1 – motivation).

4. Balance & Consistency – Are key

Finally, the key to getting any results is consistency.  2022 has been an interesting year because unlike the last 2 years, where lockdowns have interrupted many people’s regular training programs, clients have had the ability to be consistent with their training.  The results we have seen is fantastic gains in strength, power, and endurance and clients simply achieving their long-term goals.

This has been the result of a combination of consistent training, where exercise and loads have been slowly and steadily progressed to achieve muscle and physical change.  Secondly, it has worked best when clients have had a good balance of exercise, rest and recovery and good quality nutrition as part of their regime.

The growth of muscles occurs when you rest, not when you exercise.  The stimulus for growth occurs from the exercise, when you exercise are the right level to trigger a need for your body to change and adapt and when you give your body the time to recover (rest) and the fuel (nutrition) to recover with.

Although this varies for everyone, having at least 2 full recovery days a week is necessary if you want to make sustainable change.  Lack of recovery time will mean that you are constantly fatigued, you fail to adapt to the change you are trying to create and you will simply underperform and NOT achieve your goal.

The balance between exercise and stimulus to change, rest and recovery are a fine line, but needs to be a planned and necessary part of your exercise program.  Remember, you want to be amazed at the progress you’ve achieved when you look back after 12 months of training (see step 1 – motivation).

The 4 Keys To Changing Your Mindset The 4 Keys To Changing Your Mindset

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