Let’s talk a little about mindset.
I recently heard a story that I wanted to share. It describes how one of the world’s strongest and largest creatures is held captive by a mere rope.
When a baby elephant is born. It’s wild instincts are fully engaged. It wants to run, be free, and go where it pleases. It knows that it is large and in charge.
As soon as the 200-pound newborn comes into the world. Trainers shackle a metal chain to its foot and tie it to a stake. The baby elephant struggles and uses all their strength to break free of the chain. The chain resists. After days, or weeks, of struggle. The elephant’s spirit is broken. It gives in and knows that it cannot win.
This lesson in engrained into the animal’s memory.
Once it grows older and bigger, it holds on to the memory. The struggle to break free and the failed attempt is rooted into the animal’s brain.
So strong is this memory that whenever a trainer needs the elephant to stay in one location, he or she needs simply to tie a rope around the massive animals foot and tie it to a stake in the ground. The pressure from the rope reminds the elephant of the chain and the lesson learned when it was young, and it does not try to escape. The massive elephant remains captive. For life.
What does this have to do with fitness?
It’s simple. It comes down to belief.
We are all shaped by what we believe we can achieve and what we believe we can’t achieve. Like the elephant, many of us remain shackled to old chains that ensnared us when we were young.
“You’re just big boned.” “You’ll always be fat.” “We don’t eat that way.” “You’re no good at A, , B, C.” “Who cares what you eat, just enjoy yourself.” “Exercising is boring.” “I have bad genes.”
And so on.
I’m sure you can build a list yourself.
The truth is, yes, we all have limiting factors. However, they are probably different from what most people think.
Here are some limiting factors for folks and some personal insight on them.
Genetics (what your momma gave you)
Genetics can be a limiting factor at an elite level. Athletes and highly specialized individuals can reach their threshold of genetic potential and spend years (decades) doing so. The good news is that the majority of people out there (like you and I) who want to look good and feel good are not near our genetic potential. That means we have a lot of room to improve!
The amount of exercise combined with physical activity (The more you move the better, with good reason and purpose)
Training in the gym is purposeful. I’ve been a personal trainer for over 6 years and I have a degree in physical education, with that I can program a specific routine to help you build muscle or increase your performance. However, training is different from physical activity (PA). PA are the things you do outside of your training that expend energy (burn calories), help you stay mobile, keep your metabolism running, and help you burn fat.
Your physiology (hormones are important, so is all the other stuff)
Sometimes people have issues going on inside their body that prevent them from seeing results. Hormone imbalances, medical issues, and a slew of other problems could be hindering your progress. That’s why it’s important to have health care professionals keeping track of your health and fitness goals. Usually, this is not an issue for someone starting out. If they reach a plateau that can not be overcome by exercise strategies or nutrition strategies, the next step would be to talk with a healthcare professional.
Mindset (you either think you can or you think you can’t, either way you are right)
It’s important to build a positive mindset and belief within yourself in order to experience success. This can come in the form of affirmations and sometimes it needs to come from someone else. A coach, family member, and friend could be the tool to get you to the next level.
Nutrition (plays a critical role in energy intake, hormone regulation, and overall health)
What you eat and how you eat are the areas that can provide the biggest amount of change. Having nutrition strategies that align with your goals are critical for your success. Knowing your caloric needs, macronutrient breakdowns, and a base understanding of good nutrition can prove to be the key for many folks wanting to build muscle and lose fat.