If getting fit were easy, everyone would be doing it. It takes hard work, discipline, consistency, and willpower.
The process can seem cumbersome and if you’ve not exercised much in your life, getting the physical habit to stick can be tricky at first. [reality check: creating any new habit will be tough at first]
However, being fit and healthy is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. And most areas of life will improve as a result of frequent exercise and healthy eating habits.
The basics are well known. Make healthier choices when dining out. Eat more fruits and veggies. Eat more protein throughout the day.
And then make sure to lift weights at the gym, get outside for a run, or do some Yoga.
But if you weren’t exposed to healthy habits early in life, it can be hard to get started. And like the cliched saying goes… getting started is the hardest part.
Today I’m going to reveal some mental hang-ups we’ve all dealt with. Some are subtle and some you may be completely oblivious to. I’ll also explain how to not fall for these as well.
1. Give It To Me Yesterday
With advances in technology, our attention spans continue to get shorter with each new smartphone push. Your cellular telephone now gives you an endless stream of information anytime you want it. All you need is an Internet access to learn just about anything you’d ever want to know.
Gone are the days of needing to pick up a book or attend a class. A simple Google search can give you the quick answer without much hassle.
As a result of the information being so easily accessible, we’ve grown even more impatient with getting what we want.
But this isn’t entirely our fault.
While we are ultimately responsible for our actions, the apps on our phones are designed to make us addicted. And if you value having a phone, then you’re left with a choice.
To smartphone, or not to smartphone? That is the question.
If you want the ease of the internet at your fingertips, it’s pretty affordable these days, so why not?
We now pick up the phone for no particular reason—not a ding, or a buzz, no sound at all—just to see if there’s something we’re missing. There’s a new study out suggesting we touch our phones an average of 2600 times per day.
Social media has further increased the need for instant gratification through photos. In the Instagram fitness world, pictures of fit bodies are endless.
Motivational images (a.k.a. FitSpo) of men and women working out are covered with overused, simplified quotes meant to inspire your own fitness journey. But instead of inspiring many to better oneself through training and nutrition, it can become a creator of unrealistic expectations.
When you’re exposed to these images on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget the results you see are from years of consistency, effort, and hard work in and out of the gym. It’s especially hard when the image is associated with a particular supplement or diet plan promising you quick results.
All of the sudden, what’s taken someone years of hard to work to accomplish is supposedly attainable in just 12 weeks. All you gotta do is be positive, make it to the gym, and forget your excuses!
Oh, and don’t forget to take the supplements they’re pimping.
In reality, they failed to mention their transformation has been in the works for the last 5 years or more.
2. Fad Diets Offer A Quick-Fix
Here’s a quick definition from my article on how to lose fat:
A fad is something that comes and goes. It’s popular for some time and then passes on. No fads ever last. They often go through cycles, fading away and returning over time.
You’ve seen the headlines:
Lose 10 Pounds In 7 Days On The Cabbage Soup Diet or Try The HCG Diet And Join Thousands Of Others Losing 20 Pounds Per Month.
Most of these headlines are playing on one thing: your emotions. If you’re in dire need of losing body fat, or unhappy with your appearance and in an emotionally vulnerable mood, these promises are tempting.
But here’s the rub on fad diets and why you’re actually taking a step back if you succumb to their empty promises.
Many diets like the cabbage soup diet will have you take your daily food intake to an extreme, often having you cut out entire food groups (protein, carbohydrates, or fat) with the goal of losing as much weight as possible in a short period of time.
But none of these diets work long term because:
- They’re unsustainable (no one can keep this deprivation up)
- They don’t encourage good eating habits
The HCG diet appears promising because the testimonials are amazing. Lots of people losing upwards of 100 pounds on the diet will make anyone’s ears perk up.
But when you dig just below the surface, outside of getting semi-regular injections of HCG (which is a fertility drug, mind you), they’re on a recommended diet of 500 calories per day.
I know this firsthand because I’ve talked to individuals who went on the diet.
500 calories is a midday meal or snack for most people…
All of this can be said for detox diets promising to rid you of excess waste built up in your body, and as a result, burning lots of body fat. When you put these detoxes and cleanses under the scope, most are eliminating large food groups and encouraging people to thrive on mostly liquid nutrition, and/or a combination of lemon juice, cayenne, and apple cider vinegar and low-calorie foods.
You body already has its own method of detoxification. It’s called your liver. ;)
And the best part about it is you don’t have to know how to use it. It works pretty well on its own.
Action Step: The next time you get suckered into trying a magical diet, or seeking a cure to your fat loss woes, remember that any diet suggesting you remove entire food groups, or slash your calories drastically don’t have your best interests in mind. There’s no long-term play here. Instead of giving into your emotions and jumping ship for a fad solution, read this: Don’t fall for the low-carb trap.
Then go back and check your progress. Are you working out regularly? Are you tracking your intake? Are you aware of how much you’re eating on a daily and weekly basis? Are you tracking your waist measurements and scale weight?
If you said no to any of those, there’s room for improvement.
3. It’s Hard To Unlearn What You Learned First (Cultish Behavior And The Backfire Effect)
Humans are chock full of bias. So it makes sense that we all have our own views and they can differ widely among certain segments of the population. An easy way to see this in full effect is in American politics. Some people are diehard Republicans and others staunch Democrats.
Regardless of your political beliefs, you can surely see the difference in perspectives of the far left and the far right. But what do they have in common? Their inability and/or resistance to see the other side objectively.
The same thing happens with the topic of fitness and health. Some say low carb is best for fat loss. Other say it’s a horrible approach. Some swear by the Paleo Diet and others point out gaping holes in the Paleo zealots reasoning.
Regardless of what you think or believe, it all started with what you initially learned and came to accept as being true. If you look around online, there are many people with seemingly cultish beliefs about which training method is best for fat loss and muscle gain, or what diet is best for health and longevity.
And each person has their own subset of ‘facts’ and ‘beliefs’ to back up their claim.
Where this gets interesting is while most people would like to see themselves as being pragmatic, rational, and open to new ideas, most of us are not willing to challenge our deeply held beliefs.
And when these beliefs are challenged by alternate views or evidence to the contrary, our old beliefs can become even stronger than before.
This is known as The Backfire Effect, which is a form of confirmation bias (a tendency to search for, and recall information in a manner that aligns with and confirms your current beliefs). You can read more about it here and here.
I’m going to use a quick example that’s very common for people trying to change their body through exercise and nutrition.
When you start off on this journey, there’s a lot to learn. Most people tend to learn as they go, often getting their information from a wide variety of sources of varying credibility.
Instead of opening a physiology textbook to learn how the body uses fat and sugar for energy (I mean, who actually does this? We have the internet.), one googles the following: ‘How to lose belly fat?’
The search results will show up with a variety of information and that person will likely start with the ideas that resonate with them.
Let’s say they settle with the general advice of the following:
- Go for a 1 mile run 5 days per week on an empty stomach upon waking.
- Begin a low-carb diet because the article they read states ‘carbs make you fat’ (which is totally false, by the way).
If this advice works for them and helps them lose their belly fat, they’ll likely develop a belief that lots of running and low-carb dieting is the way to burn belly fat. After all, they applied what they read and it worked. So it’s known now as the truth. A truth. Their truth.
However, if this advice didn’t work, they’d go back to square one and research some more.
Instead of running 5 days per week, they might start weight training. And instead of a traditional low-carb diet, they might try a Paleo version with more protein.
Regardless of which method worked for them, beliefs are being created based on their experience. While those beliefs can be true and backed by personal experience, it doesn’t mean there’s only one way to achieve a goal.
And just because something worked in a specific manner, it doesn’t mean it’s the best way, nor the healthiest.
But here’s where it gets interesting…
When that person who is presented with an alternate approach—one that contradicts much of what they understand or believed up until this point—they’re most likely to side with their inherent biased beliefs regardless of how much evidence is available for an alternate idea.
This is why we have various approaches to health and fitness that seem to contradict one another and simultaneously ‘work’ for certain people, but not for everyone.
What’s worse is when someone is so narrowly focused on a belief or idea that isn’t serving them in the least, but they refuse to change their mind based on old beliefs.
An example is the longtime low-carb dieter who lost weight and gained it all back on the same diet but refuses to try eating more carbohydrates because of the old thinking that they would make them fat again, when in reality, their current diet isn’t working for them.
Or take someone who went from eating fast food at every meal to cutting it out completely. In the process, they replaced fast food with more fruits, vegetables, and lean meat and lost 50 pounds.
They might make the assumption that eating fast food makes you fat, and eating clean makes you lean (hey, it even rhymes). So the common assumption here is that eating clean is the reason they lost so much weight instead of acknowledging the fact that calories are reduced as a result of food choices.
This is a common logical fallacy known as the False Cause because while switching from fast food to whole food meals, they lost weight because of a reduction in calories, not because the food is healthier or clean.
Here’s a video form of this article: