It’s all in your head.
If you were told that by a doctor, loved one, or a friend, that could be maddening. Yet, it is all in your head. There is proof that “it” all does begin in your head.
Your desire to win, or to lose [weight], and your desire to make the changes that make you feel better are thought-based.
It’s true of kids in school. Teachers recognize mindset as a learning disability or a learning advantage. We each have either a fixed or a growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset, you tend to think that what you have is what you got and that’s kind of it. If you’ve got a growth mindset, you tend to think everything is figure-out-able. You may not know it or be doing it now but others around you have, so you can too.
Before I go on, whichever you have right now, you have the ability to change.
We give much less thought (how ironic) to changing our minds compared to shopping for new fitness shoes, or selecting a gym, or trainer.
I’m about to go all Cosmopolitan* on you.
Your mindset about exercise, healthy eating and other health habits, and your own ability to be successful at it, more than any other factor, determine how successful you will be.
Our natural tendency is to reach for the tangible. Shoe shopping is easy. Changing thoughts and beliefs about something is harder. We attach to them. We give them weight as if they were our anchors. If we remove those beliefs we naturally feel unstable until something new replaces them.
Say that for years like my recent client, you have exercised hard twice a day. You exercise hard in the morning and again in the evening. You limit your carbs severely, often skip lunch, and have learned that you’re lack of sleep may be tied to several of your current habits. The spare tire appearing around your waist is also evidence what you’re doing isn’t working.
It will still be hard to change what you’re doing.
Learning a new information is one part. Another is changing the recording inside your head. Let’s use another example. Often a new client reaches out because she wants to be exercising in a way to reach her goals and feel better, but is struggling to start or keep that habit.
Maybe that sounds familiar. Consider whether any of these FHS (frequently heard statements) that indicate fixed mindset fit you. On the right are the flips.
Flipping from Fixed Mindset > Growth Mindset
I just can’t lose weight > What am I missing?
I have always been naturally fit> I have had good habits and discipline.
I’ve been naturally thin > I’ve taken good care of myself in the past, I can do it again.
I just don’t like exercise > I’m going to find something I enjoy.
I always let something else get in the way > I’m going to look at those past attempts and learn from them.
She is so disciplined. I wish I had that discipline > I’m going to figure out how she stays motivated so I can do it.
Nothing I’ve tried has worked for me > Good thing there are so many choices and resources to help me.
I am so tired at the end of the day. There is no way I can work out. > A really intense workout probably doesn’t serve me, but I always feel better after some exercise. I’ll do some stretching/yoga/go for a short walk.
I have so much to do I can’t fit in exercise. > I don’t have more to do than anyone else. I’m going to figure out how to get short exercise sessions in.
I am too tired to exercise by the end of the day. > I do want to exercise. I am going to figure out what’s making me so tired about surviving a normal day so I can start.
More About Fixed vs Growth Mindset
This mindset thing? It’s not all just genetically programmed. It’s environment. If you were told as a young girl for instance, you were really coordinated and good at sports, you may have more a fixed mindset. If you were compared to other girls who were better at sports, and told you have other skills and talents, you might have stronger tendency toward a fixed mindset. Surprised?
The growth mindset would have been supported by comments like, you really give it your all out there, you’re going to go far with effort like that! Hearing, you can do anything you set your mind to is supportive of growth mindset. I recall my older brother going out for wrestling in high school. I don’t think he’d ever wrestled before and he was small for his age. My stepfather told him he was small and had less experience but if he made a plan and worked hard he could be very successful. Discipline and hard work can out run talent every day. He was instilling a growth mindset.
A single memory might jump out at you while you’re reading this that makes you realize where some limiting beliefs might have come from, or where you’ve been blessed with some comments that really set you up for success.
If you were told you were lucky instead of that you worked hard and deserved something good that happened to you, it sets more of a fixed mindset. There are different outcomes to, “you’re good at math” and “you are good at working through a problem.” (If you want more info about mindset, Carol Dweck’s book Mindset is a good resource.)
*Cosmopolitan is in reference to Cosmo magazine. When my significant other is and I have a miscommunication, or I’m relaying something important and potentially frustrating, he’ll say, “How did that make you feel?” He’ll say it two or three times in a row in response to whatever I say next. When I’m on to him, I ask if he needs to turn the page. I know he’s playing by his Cosmo playbook trying to be all “I hear you” when really he’s not quite grasping the importance of what I’m saying but he’s trying to be supportive, and lighten the mood by calling me on my crazy-making. I have the feeling he’s picked up the magazine and opened it to a “when she says this, you say that” article about how to be supportive of your friend.
The end result? We both laugh and it totally de-escalates the situation. Sometimes the simple change in your response to your own words is all it takes.
Share your story with me. Do you find you sometimes you have a limiting or fixed mindset? Or are you a growth mindset girl? I’d really love to hear from you if you have made the flip from fixed to growth.