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How To Maximize Your Motivation To Get Results With Your Health & Fitness

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 04 August 2014
Hits: 6304

I have been a Personal Trainer based in Melbourne for nearly 10 years and the number one obstacle preventing people from achieving their goal is TOO MUCH STRESS! I don't know anyone who does not want to get results with their health and fitness goals, yet that is exactly what it seems like when I see my clients sabotaging their own goals by eating junk food, drinking too much alcohol, working too many hours, not drinking enough water, I could keep going and going but I think you get the point. For many years I had spent endless hours studying and paying big bucks to learn the latest exercise methods and techniques to provide the best Personal Training experience ever! However I was very frustrated from many of my clients lack of results due mainly to the poor habits listed earlier. I soon came to the conclusion that it does not make any difference to their goal at all how hard their training sessions or what latest exercise technique I was using if they continued to adopt these destructive habits. So for the past 5 years most of my learning has gone into the reasons behind the lack of motivation, desire, willpower and willingness to stick to a plan. Which I will admit is significantly harder than any exercise program or advanced method I have ever tried to learn! And out of all of this I can conclude now the biggest factor and saboteur of any program is STRESS. This article I plan to share some of the key areas to help you stick to your health plan and get great results from little to no training!

Stress - What Is It And How Does It Ruin Your Health?

We need certain amount of stress  to alert us when there is danger. Stress is needed to prepare us for survival and this is called “fight of flight” response. In a stressful situation the body secretes stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to our arms and legs in order to help  us either run away fast or stay and fight which is bad for our digestion as it basically “shuts down” which is a disaster if you want to lose weight! 

A good analogy is to think of our stress hormones like an alarm clock. The alarm only goes off when there is danger and it would not be a good thing for the alarm to be activated all day. Our stress hormones are only needed to prepare us for survival. Stress comes in many forms and often mental stress is a secondary stress to a more sinister form – disease!
There are 6 common stress forms - Physical, Chemical, Electromagnetic, Mental, Nutritional & Thermal
Mental Stress is the most common and a modern form of stress. Unfortunately your minds perception becomes reality!
Everything that happens in the real world must start in your mind first. All Negative thoughts and negative emotions have a physical reaction – even if they are not true! Eg – Financial stress
A great book to read about this topic to help understand it is called "Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" The other book I recommend buying to find simple and effective stress management techniques is "Control Stress" by Paul McKenna
 
 
In the book Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers" the author discusses how animals the stress response is only about dealing with a short term crisis. After which it’s either over with or you’re over with! The Key here is it is Short term response only and then turned off, as opposed to humans who continue thinking about it endlessly as if it actually did happen. How many Zebras worry about how much superannuation they are going to have when they retire?
When you are stuck in fight or flight your cortisol levels are elevated and your growth and repair hormones are lowered and long term over production of these hormones leads to a breakdown of body tissues and fatigue of the adrenal glands. Adrenal gland exhaustion is linked to illnesses such as chronic fatigue and glandular fever. 
Illness + lack of growth & repair = Disease
Injury + lack of growth & repair = Chronic Injury
Basically your body is now in a state of eating itself to repair itself!
 
Now is it fair to say that if you have a lot of stress already in your life and you now want to try and shake things up by getting rid of your Pizza on Friday night, stop drinking alcohol, get to the gym more often in order to help your stress you are going to need a lot of ........ WILLPOWER & MOTIVATION. But what I am going to show you here is that they are all linked to each other in one way or another and unfortunately STRESS is king and will win this battle every time.

The Secret To Great Willpower

This information I was inspired to put together after reading a blog from guy named S.J. Scott who writes a blog called DevelopGoodHabits.com blog. Scott provides daily action plans for every area of life: health, fitness, work and personal relationships. Unlike other personal development guides, his content focuses on taking action. S. J.'s latest book Habit Stacking: 97 Small Life Changes That Take Five Minutes or Less can be found here.
Setting goals and having high levels of motivation is great when starting on a new health and fitness plan. If you have not set your goals make sure you go to our website and download the Free Goal Setting Worksheet. Knowing WHY you want to achieve your goals is crucial here in order for you to stay on track. Deep emotional attachments to your goal will ensure you don't need to rely too heavily on Willpower. Because as I will explain today, for some people this is a battle you are not likely to win if you have a lot of stress in your life. And after reading a few books and taking several courses of the years I have found willpower is a much bigger idea than I thought and one that can be confused very easily. It’s easy to give credit to willpower when you successfully build a new habit, but it’s also equally easy to chalk up a failure due to a lack of willpower.

How do you define willpower? How does it affect your ability to stick to a new routine? Is it a biological trait or can you develop it? Does a lack of willpower actually cause failure in a habit change?

Regardless of your thoughts on willpower; it is a real thing. It can be strengthened. It can be broken. And it does have a direct impact on your ability to build a new habit.

"Having more willpower isn’t the answer to developing habits" When I first read this I thought, what a load of garbage. But what you will see is, that one of the secrets of having great willpower is to understand that it really is not that important. S.J. Scott uses the analogy of willpower being like a reservoir of water. Everyone has this reservoir. For some, it’s a large, massive pool of water that you can tap into and it always seems pretty full. For others, it’s a small pond that is must be used wisely or it will run out. Every action you take draws water from this reservoir. The tougher the task, the more willpower it takes. So, if you’re trying to get the “mental strength” to go for a five minute walk, this will drain a smaller level of resources than a 10 km run. Everybody relies on a single source of willpower. That means every action you take during the day will draw from this resource. Think of the different things you deal with:

  • Work Decisions
  • Bills
  • Family problems
  • Diet/healthy eating
  • Stress

Every one of these actions can be a drain on your willpower. You expend energy with your family, dealing with work issues and watching what you eat. So, when you try to add something to your routine (like a new habit) you will need to draw willpower from the same reservoir that’s used for everything else in your life. That means there is a big downside to willpower. When you try to change too many things at once, you’ll end up failing because you still need those willpower reserves to handle the other day-to-day activities. Willpower is like any other muscle. It can be exercised and strengthened over time. And on the flip side, it has its limits. Regardless of the strength of your willpower, if you draw on it too much you you will reach a breaking point. One Solution for Strengthening Willpower. There have been countless studies on willpower. All of them show that we all have a limited amount of this resource. Fortunately, these experiments have led to a few possible solutions to strengthening your mental reserves. When the subjects use as an implementation intention (better known as “If-Then Planning”) they greatly reduce the stress of the upcoming tasks, which increases their chances of success. In other words, if you regularly create “action plans” for how you’ll respond to triggers and certain situations, you’ll be far more likely to stick to a new habit change. 

Great Ways To Turn Negatives Into Positives To Improve your Health

Now that we know stress is the big saboteur and willpower will not win on its own how do you go about changing the way your mind thinks to give yourself the best chance of reducing stress and giving yourself more reserves to tap into for your willpower. In almost every case the lack of happiness and self fulfilment can be traced back to negative emotions and the blocks they throw in people’s lives. These negative emotions are found deep in our mental subconscious and try to hold us back from living the life of our dreams.  So what can you do to rid yourself of these negative thoughts? Well first thing first I believe everyone should go out and buy a copy of “Kiss That Frog” by Brian Tracy. This book I have read maybe 10 times and constantly refer to it when I start to feel negative thoughts creeping back into my mindset. Today’s article is a sneak peak inside the book and some of the main points that I use to keep me on track and in a positive frame of mind. Here are my favourite tips you can start using now.

LOOK FOR THE POSITIVE IN EVERY NEGATIVE

It is not what happens to you in life that determines how you feel, it is how you respond to what happens. Two people may have the same experience but one will rise above it, let it go, and get on with it. The other will be crushed, angry, resentful, unhappy for some time. Same event yet two different reactions. Difficulties come not to obstruct, but to instruct” - Brian Tracy

The fastest way to transform a negative to a positive and free yourself from unhappy experiences is to see the event in a different way. Try to think that in order to fully learn and understand what it takes to be healthy, happy and fulfilled requires on the job learning. You cannot learn enough from reading, watching DVD’s or even other people. You learn only when you experience something, especially when you experience pain—physical, emotional or financial. A perfect example is how many people approach their health. People continue to eat poor food choices because they taste good and choose not to exercise because it is not fun. Not until they are struck with some kind of physical problem or disease do they decide to change their habitsand start taking better care of their bodies. This is an example of experiencing physical pain and learning from it.

THINK OF LIFE AS LESSONS YOU NEED TO LEARN

In order to fully learn something and pay attention, life deals you an event that comes with pain. A great quote that I have put up around the house and remind myself daily is “ Every negative event contains the seed of equal or greater benefit” It is your job to keep focused on the potential lesson, advantage or benefit that the negative event has provided, as opposed to the parts that keep you unhappy and angry. Think of the biggest failures you’ve experienced in your life. What are the most important lessons you learned from each of them? How have these lessons helped you make better choices and decisions? Especially, what advantages and benefits have come to you as a result of what you learned?

CHANGE THE WAY YOU TALK

Another fast way to switch your mind from negative to positive when something goes wrong is to change the way you talk. For example, instead of the word problem, use the word “situation”.

Problem is negative. It brings up images of loss, delay and inconvenience. But situation is neutral. “We have an interesting situation here” An even better word is “challenge”. A challenge is something you rise to. It brings out the best in you. It is positive and uplifting. We look forward to challenges because they teach us to stretch and become even better at overcoming them. But the best word of all in describing a problem is “opportunity”. Instead of thinking about problems or difficulties from now on, talk about unexpected setbacks in your life as opportunities or challenges. An opportunity is something we all want and look forward to eagerly. When you begin to use this type of self talk you will be amazed at how many of your greatest opportunities first appear as problems and difficulties.

So how does all this relate to Health & Fitness? Well we all know that if you eat fresh, healthy high quality foods of all kinds and avoid the foods that are bad for you, you will have more energy, sleep better, lose a bit of weight, rarely get sick and feel happier and healthier. In the same way your mental diet works the same way. When you feed your mind with positive ideas, information, books, conversations and thoughts you develop more positive and effective personality. You enjoy greater self confidence and self esteem. And vice versa for the negative emotions.

So begin to put some of these ideas to work in your life right now and trust me, a lot of the instructions your trainer gives to you for exercise, nutrition, lifestyle choices will be so much easier to implement. You will become a completely different person and you will actually bring about your own personal transformation!

HOW TO CHANGE BAD HABITS TO GOOD HABITS

“The individual who wants to reach the top in business must appreciate the might and force of habit. He must be quick to break those habits that can break him—and hasten to adopt those practices that will become habits that help him to achieve the success he desires.” J.P. Getty—Founder of Getty Oil Company and by the late 1950’s widely regarded as the richest man in the world.

The quote above might be about business but the principle of changing bad habits to good ones applies to anything in life, and especially exercise and nutrition habits. Changing habits, is simply a process of changing what's normal for you. However, for most people, changing is tough because there's some pain in changing. When you have a problem, there is the pain it causes in your life, but there's also a pain of trying to change it. When the payoff of trying to change is outweighed by the pay off of continuing the old way, people stick with what they're comfortable with. How do we overcome this problem of the pain of change?
Start small, start with one thing at a time, and make the change easier. You want to make changing the path of least resistance, because change usually isn't for most people. If you make a drastic change, it feels really hard and really different, and not something you can stick to for very long. But when you make a change easier, it makes it easier to take that all-important first step. Once you take that first step, you have a bit of forward momentum. And it's much easier to be consistent and stick with something for a long time. Our minds tend to adjust over time. You can do this with anything - exercise, always being late, getting to bed on time, getting rid of sugar in your diet, just about anything. Gradually adjust what feels like normal to you. Here's the process:

1. Start small: What's the smallest increment you can do? Do this for at least 3 days, preferably 4-5.
2. Get started: Starting the change each day is the most important thing. Want to run? Just get out the door. Want to meditate? Just get on the cushion.
3. Enjoy the change: Don't look at this as a sacrifice. It's fun, it's learning, it's a challenge.
4. Stick to the change: Notice your urge to quit. Don't act on it. Keep going.
5. Adjust again: When the change becomes normal, make another small adjustment.
6. Take Action: To Develop Better New Habits

However for some people that method may not be effective as they are not quite sure what habits they have, so if that is you I would recommend using these next two action steps.
1. Step one is to make a list of all the habits that keep you unproductive or that might negatively impact your future. Ask others to help you identify your limiting habits. Look for patterns such as procrastinating, paying bills at the last minute, arriving late, having fast food meals, working too late, etc.
2. Once you have identified your bad habits, the second step is to choose a better, more productive success habit and develop systems that will help support them. For example if your goal is to get to the gym every morning, one system you might put in place is to go to bed 1 hour earlier, prepare all your gear, even your breakfast ready to go the night before and set your alarm.
These are just some of the strategies that people who are very successful adopt and to them this is there NORMAL. They don’t feel like they are on any restriction plan or road to pain, they just created good habits.

YOU MUST SET GOALS

Last but not least for true success and guaranteed burning motivation, desire and unbreakable willpower you must set goals. And more importantly understand why. Fewer than 3% of people have clear, written goals and they are usually the most successful in every field. Less than 1% of all people re-write and review their goals on a regular basis! When you set goals you attract the right sort of ideas and materials to realise your dream!

”To achieve results never before obtained, we must attempt methods never before tried”

I like to use the SMART method for writing down my goals. You can download a free worksheet by clicking here

Specific – The more specific you are the easier it will be to plan what you will need to achieve that goal and develop a strategy.
Measurable – Having clearly defined standards of progress is important. It’s hard to feel good about your goal when it is hard to determine if you are making any progress.
Achievable – This is important, because if you don’t believe you can reach your goals then you won’t. This doesn’t mean they cant be challenging it just means you have to be intelligent and resourceful when planning and executing the plan.
Realistic – As above
Time Frame – The timeline provides you with focus that is missing without one. While your dream may be providing you with motivation having a timeline provides you with more focus and stability.
Goal setting with these elements has been proven to be much easier to reach and also reached more easily.

I hope you enjoyed this article and it provided you with some great ideas and new ways of thinking for transforming your health. As mentioned earlier we mainly provide Personal Training in the Mitcham, Vermont, Donvale area around Melbourne but we do also provide Online Personal Training coaching as well which you can read more about by clicking here.

If you would like to know more about our services and seriously want to be the healthiest you can be fill in the form below and I will be in touch within the next 24 hours.