Being the owner of a fitness facility and known as the “the fitness guy”, people ask my opinion on just about anything that has to do with the subject. One of the more popular questions I get goes something like this: “I want to lose weight. What’s the best thing for me to do?”
After a few follow up questions, it’s usually pretty easy to pinpoint where they might be falling short. Maybe they are drinking too many soft drinks. Or maybe they need to change up their breakfast. No matter answer I give, the reply I get in return is almost unanimous: “I’ll give it a try”.
And, just like that, the well-intentioned person has ruined their chances of making any progress without even knowing it. I’m sure you’re thinking “what’s wrong with that answer?”. On the surface, it seems harmless. Yet, underneath of those 5 words, your subconscious has already been defeated.
How Words Impact Your Subconscious Mind
The words we use have a cynical way of effecting what we believe is impossible. Even small words can have an impact on how we perceive the world. As a matter of fact, it’s usually the small words, which seem so simple, that impact us the most.
Take the word “never”, for instance. “Never” is a word that most everybody uses on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s used to correct a child’s attitude, “Never act like that again”. Sometimes it’s used when you’re training a new co-worker on how to complete a task, “Never touch the red button”.
In these examples, the word “never” is likely compelling the other person to WANT to do the act more than it is achieving the goal of teaching a lesson as we intend. Do you remember when your parents told you to “never” do something? I do. And I can say that 9 times out of 10, I never followed through with the “promise” to never do it again.
Why the Words You Use Matter So Much
As you can see, we automatically use words to try and convey a feeling or teach a lesson not knowing that the word is doing something completely different. These simple words we use help to form the beliefs that we have about ourselves and the world around us.
When you get angry a child and tell them to “never” do that again, they start to believe that they should never try anything new, otherwise they’ll get in trouble. Think about the last time you tried something new and different. Did you hesitate? Did you get scared? Were you afraid of failure? Some of this is natural instinct. The unknown is scary, after all. But much of this comes from how your parents raised you and what words they used to teach you a lesson.
The 4 Words You Should Stay Away From at All Costs
By now, hopefully, you’re starting to see how the words you use can hold you back from achieving your fitness goals. Fitness is a hard thing for most people, anyway. And when you incorporate words that instill limiting beliefs, it makes your goals that much harder to reach.
Let’s take a look at 4 simple words that affect your subconscious more than you would expect. You likely use each one of these words multiple times a day. If that’s the case, it doesn’t make you a bad person, it makes you human. This will give you an opportunity to become aware of what you’re saying so you’re not convincing yourself that you’re something that you’re not:
#1) What foods are BAD for me?
The words “good” and “bad” have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves. If someone tells you that you did a good thing, you are proud of yourself. On the other hand, when someone tells you that you did a bad thing, it beats your subconscious mind to a pulp.
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned to be true, it’s this: there is NOTHING inherently “good” or “bad”. There is only the label we put on it. Take the question that leads this section, “What foods are BAD for me?”. I think most of us know that Twinkies are something that you shouldn’t eat to be healthy. However, if I tell you that Twinkies are “bad”, and you have a Twinkie the next day, you’re going to convince yourself that you’re a “bad” person. In the long run, the mind game of telling yourself that you’re “bad” is worse than the Twinkie you had in the first place.
When it comes to your health and fitness, instead of labeling things as “good” or “bad”, ask yourself a simple question: Is this moving closer to my goal or further away from my goal? The question will help clarify the situation much better than putting a label on the action.
#2) I NEED to lose 20 pounds.
Many people have the goal of losing weight. Sometimes the goal is their own. Meaning, THEY have decided to lose weight without any outside forces pushing on them. Many times, though, it is an outside force that’s influencing them to lose weight.
When I hear the words “I NEED to lose 20 pounds”, I know that the person is usually being pushed to do this from an outside force. And, 9 times out of 10, they will fail. Not because they are a “bad” person. But because they feel like they don’t have a choice.
You see, the word “need” is restrictive. It intends that you better do it, or else. If you NEED to lose weight, you’re desperate. There’s no freedom. There’s no decision. There’s just the feeling of being stuck doing whatever it is you “need” to do.
Instead, try using a few different words. For instance, the sentence above could be changed to “I want to lose 20 pounds” or “I choose to lose 20 pounds”. Do you see the difference? Do you see how much freer those statements feel? There’s freedom in choice. You’ll come to understand, there aren’t many things in life you NEED: air, water, food, basic shelter. Everything else you WANT.
#3) But I CAN’T work out 3 times a week
We have a Member who has been with me for a long time. Actually, she’s one of our founding Pack Members. I give her a hard time a lot because…well…she deserves it most of the time (if you’re reading this, you know who you are).
One thing that she USED to say to me when we first started working together was “I CAN’T do that”. Luckily, she’s the type of person I can be blunt and straight-forward with. So, in response, I would say “It’s not that you CAN’T, it’s that you WON’T”.
There aren’t many things a person can’t do. Think of the advent of the current cell phone. If you told someone 100 years ago that eventually, people would be walking around with a device in their pocket that can call, text, email, search the web, take pictures and videos and be used as an alarm clock (you probably would’ve lost them at “text”), don’t you think they would’ve said that can’t happen? And yet, here we are.
Just remember, if you’re not doing something, it’s not because you CAN’T. It’s because your current efforts aren’t allowing you to do whatever it is. Instead, try writing down at least different possibilities of actions you could take to move toward your goal. You’re bound to find something that works. Somebody else certainly has.
#4) I’ll give it a TRY.
Which brings us back to the very beginning. This simple 5-word sentence that started it all. “Try” is likely one of the most destructive words in the English language. At only 3 letters long, this word has been the purpose for many “almosts”, “could haves”, “would haves”, and “close calls”.
“Try” is a copout. It’s a way to relinquish control without having to admit to it. When you try, you don’t put in your best effort. This way, you have a reason as to why you failed. When you try, you don’t commit. This way, you can bail out at any time and not feel bad about it.
The great Yoda once said “Do, or do not. There is no try.”. The next time you feel yourself start to form the letter “T” with your mouth, stop and think. Ask yourself “Am I trying to give myself a comfortable way out?” and, if so “How can I make this a bit easier so I feel confident that I can complete the task at hand?”.
Remember that full commitment is the only way to true accomplishment. You have to burn the boats and leave no path out. Only then can you make meaningful change in pursuit of your health and fitness goals.
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