If you've been struggling to stay on track for longer than 30 days, your mind might be holding you back.
Don't get me wrong - there are very real obstacles in your life like having to travel, dealing with sick kids or being busy with work. Those obstacles never go away.
But if those things stop you every time, there might be things under the surface silently sabotaging your progress.
Understanding this is the key to getting fit faster, and getting past any obstacle you face.
I've put together the 3 biggest ways your mind could be sabotaging you + what it ACTUALLY looks like in the way you act and think, and lastly, how to overcome them to finally crush the goals you set, below.
3 Ways Your Mind is Sabotaging You
These scenarios play out in a lot of different ways, and a lot of them happen silently behind the scenes.
You might not actively say or think these things to yourself, but think about your actions over the last few months or years when you try to accomplish a goal. You might be doing 1 or all of these things every time.
The first, and biggest, is...
#1: Putting Too Much Pressure On Yourself
Tell me if you've ever thought any of these things to yourself,
- "Fuck it - I already messed up. I'll try again tomorrow."
- "Things are too busy now, I have to take a break until later."
- "I can't do this, this lifestyle just doesn't work for me"
It’s normal to feel like you have to make a total overhaul to your life when you first get started. After all, what you’re doing is clearly “wrong”, so now it’s time to get “right”.
And if you haven’t said those things, but you’ve ever caught yourself,
- Sitting on the couch, unable to move, when it’s time to go workout...
- Completely ditching your plan when things start to go a little wrong...
- Avoiding cooking at all because of the effort it takes to make a healthy meal...
You're trying to be perfect. Putting too much pressure on yourself to get things "right" all the time makes you want to not do anything ever.
No matter where you’re at, change doesn’t happen overnight, and it definitely doesn’t involve 100% perfection every time.
You WILL have days where you don't feel like it, it's too difficult, or things just aren't going to plan. Instead of derailing completely, ask yourself:
"What is 1 thing I CAN do?"
You can always add some fruit, vegetables, or protein to your plate, skip dessert or drinks at dinner, or do half of your workout when you're short on time.
It might not be PERFECT, or what you WANT to do, but it's better than nothing. It takes the pressure off of you to be perfect every time, and helps you to keep moving forward until you can do everything you want to do.
That doesn’t mean to do just the bare minimum every day - it means find ways to keep moving forward.
Always aim for the best you can do, and if you fall short, aim for anything you can still do.
Because there is always something you can do. Find what that is, and build from there.
#2: Looking For A Way Out
You've been doing great all week for your diet. You hit the gym 3 times this week, hit all of your macros, and you're feeling good leading into the weekend.
But your relatives are coming over, or you're meeting some friends for dinner. No problem, you have your plan.
Then you're out at dinner, the menus are being passed around, and you take 1 look then say...
"You know what, I've been good all week. I can afford to slack tonight. Besides, there's always tomorrow"
And then you do it again next weekend. And the weekend after that. Until you haven't been good all week... and you binge eat that weekend anyway.
On the surface it makes sense, you want to reward yourself for your progress so you can stay motivated to keep going.
But if you're catching yourself justifying all the times you go off plan, you're looking for a way out.
This shows up if you catch yourself saying things like,
- "One more couldn't hurt..."
- "I know I shouldn't, but I just couldn't resist"
- "I don't know why I fell off track, but it happened again”
Losing weight isn't easy. That's why your plan should be effective, supportive and guide you through the obstacles you'll be facing, like unexpected plans, hunger, and cravings.
This comes up a lot when your current plan is too restrictive, asking too much from you, or you haven’t found a good enough reason to be working on this.
And unfortunately, you can wipe out a week of progress in 1 or 2 big meals on the weekend. Without addressing this feeling and where it’s coming from, you can be stuck in a state of spinning your wheels long-term.
The good news is, getting past this comes down to recognizing it.
Are you trying to get out of your plan? If the answer is yes…
- Look for places that you're overly restricting and causing you to want to escape, then work on eliminating that feeling
- Look for ways to incorporate 'cheat' meals (within reason) to your plan (not just when you feel like it)
- Recommit to your goal and why it's important to you. What's your reason?
(By the way, I cover all of these obstacles in depth on my website. It would take too long to go into each in this one article)
#3: Giving Up Control
As our lives get busier, it's easy for your personal fitness to take a back seat. The problem is, our excuses sometimes take the front seat instead.
In everything, maintaining control over your actions and responses to the things around you are what get you results.
This ties directly into both of the ideas above, but is worth really considering on it’s own. Recognizing ideas #1 and #2 doesn’t always directly translate to fixing them… unfortunately, sometimes we just accept them and let them sit there.
If you give up that control to your environment, your circumstances, or your mind and emotions, you are giving up your power to accomplish what you set out to do.
Your reasons are real. There's no denying that. But if you stop there - you will never get past them.
The next time you catch yourself thinking,
- "I can't do this because of my schedule/my kids/my injuries..."
- “I’m not seeing results, this isn’t worth it…”
- “This just isn’t possible for me”
Stop and ask yourself,
"What can I DO about this?"
Acknowledge the situation you’re in, then evaluate your options and go from there. You are capable enough to figure this out, just give yourself a chance to try.
Use Your Mind to Help You Win Instead
You don't need to transform your life overnight. You just need to take the steps available to you, and keep moving.
Your mind is not your greatest enemy, but it’s not always your friend either. Keep looking for patterns in the things you are struggling with and see where it’s helping or hurting you.
Like in this post, you might find that there’s more to it than what’s just happening on the surface.
What are the biggest obstacles that make you fall off track? You aren’t alone. Share your thoughts below and let me know!
About the Author
Ridwan Mao shows busy men simple, practical steps for improving for their bodies and lives on his blog. His goal is to inspire men to start taking action TODAY to start seeing results. You can get a jump start now by downloading his Free Mini-Guide on the Top 10 Exercise & Diet Strategies to lose your belly fat, even if you've been struggling with time, energy and motivation.