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5 Paradigm-Shifting Ways to Change Your Fitness Thinking

Do you remember when you learned Santa Claus was pretty much a big fat lie? Not in the “YOU LIED TO ME!! HOW COULD YOU!?” sense but in the way the legend made Christmas all that more exciting, mysterious and anticipated and once you knew the truth, things took on a different perspective? Or when you got your license and the world opened up a bit more? Or when you  met that special someone or saw your first-born and realized you were no longer the only thing that mattered? All examples of a paradigm shift- the scientific/fancy pants term for seeing something in a new, game-changing perspective. Kind of like this picture.

One of the most important ways to really lock yourself into accomplishing the fitness goals you’ve set out to make is to break down your old ways of thinking and view the world, what you can accomplish and they way things work in a totally new way. This might be easier said than done but like all things, with steady steps forward and doing what you need to every day, the changes you want to happen… well, they happen.

I was trying to think of ways my thinking has changed over the last few years and I came up with five that played a significant role in how I began to look at things different and reach my fitness goals:

Food Isn’t Pleasure– It’s Fuel.

I know. This is probably the most “radical” paradigm shift. And it’s kind of a nuanced statement in that food can be both fuel and delicious but… almost everyone eats for pleasure. I sure did. Hungry or not- if it was “yummy”, I’d sample it. Society revolves around that fact. But while food can definitely a pleasure (the nutrition guides have delicious recipes we make all the time, Shakeology is awesome and I do advocate the occasional cheat day when you’ve reached your goals), we’ve come to equate “delicious” with “sweet”, “salty” and “fatty”. That’s not food, that’s dessert or in many cases, straight junk. And while “desserty” food can have a place in life (I’m not saying anyone has to become a culinary nun or monk)  it’s not during your focused goal on transformation and getting ripped, lean and fit.

There’s a quote I like and like most good quotes, it’s got a little bit of stinging truth:

“Stop rewarding yourself with food– you’re not a dog.”

Food is not a reward– it’s what your body uses to build, repair and nourish itself. Sometimes the food you take in isn’t going to go down like a slice of cheesecake or a bowl of ice cream. Not everything you put in your mouth has to be fireworks. I’m not here to say it’s time to give up on eating delicious food. But you may have to “retrain” your taste buds to appreciate foods that will not only get you to your goal but give your body what it needs as well.

Pain Is Gain

“No pain no gain” has always sounded to me like a bone-headed set of famous last words but when applied to the right kind of “pain”, it’s the truth. Now, if you feel a sharp pain– and you know the difference– that’s the “hold up” signal. The pain I’m talking about is that lactic acid buildup that causes your muscles to burn. That’s not an indicator you should stop– that’s an indicator you should push through. Impress yourself, surprise yourself but don’t listen to that “I can’t” part of yourself. If you’re expending effort and “feeling the burn”, that’s where you push through for the full time or to failure.

When things get hard is when the work begins. If you want to make real gains and progress, you’ve got to stop thinking the opposite. The resultant soreness isn’t a reason to quit. It’s a badge of honor and a reason to keep going.

Scales Are For Weighing Your Food, Not Your Body.

This line is a broken record around here. I don’t like scales. I’ve got a long list of why I think they’re bullies and do more harm than good (covered in detail here) but I’ve seen far too many people live and die by numbers that in the end mean nothing. Don’t rely on your scale in telling you how you’re doing. Rely on how you feel, how many more pushups or pullups you did than the last time. The fact you ran longer, felt better, are turning more heads or might need to go clothes shopping is where you’ll find the true measurement of your success. I had a scale in the bathroom that had gathered so much dust I threw it in the garbage. My bet is you’ll feel better doing the same.

You Can’t Out-Exercise a Crappy Diet

What you eat matters. Shortcut your diet and you’ll shortcut your results. If I have one major complaint about the fitness industry it’s that they’re always showing results based on work or gadgets and mention nothing about the nutrition that made those results possible. You can do 10,000 pushups and eat like junk and you’ll see no visible change over time. It’s back to the food reward game mentioned earlier– you can’t reward yourself with a pizza when you complete a workout if your ideal is to look like the pictures of inspiration so many of of have in mind when we begin our fitness journeys.

Eat clean with a focus on exercise and working out and you’ll see results you never thought possible. It’s not the exercise. It’s not all the nutrition. It’s the happy combination of both.

Yes, You CAN

As the saying goes, “If you think you can’t, you’re right”. So much of our early development is tainted with “no” and “you can’t” many of us still think that applies to the heights we can climb as we get older. When it comes to fat loss and getting fit… you CAN. Repeat: You CAN!!!! If so many of us could just see what we’re capable of, Rock Stars wouldn’t Rock Stars, they’d just be People. You can do this. You CAN transform your body. Get out of your own way— all the success stories you see were people in a head space just like you.

I used to think I was resigned to just getting old and fat. The paradigm shifter for me was P90X and seeing OTHERS did it– so why couldn’t I? The difference was they knew they could do it and they did it. I did it. You CAN TOO.

Shift your paradigms and shift what you can accomplish. Let’s get started.


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