Resilient Mindset

In my personal experience overcoming challenging events take a lot of resilience. Overcoming problems and troubleshooting will be something that you have to deal with on a daily basis when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. 

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from a challenging event or overcome a series of obstacles that have gotten in the way of an individual achieving their goals.

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I believe that resilience and mindset have a strong connection.  A person's personal outlook can affect how they react when problems exist. 

Psychologists have studied the difference between “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset”, and how these affect one’s ability to achieve success.  Those with a “fixed mindset” tend to avoid challenges, give up easily, and ignore useful negative feedback. On the contrary, individuals who possess a more “growth mindset” have been shown to embrace challenges, endure in the face of adversity, and learn from criticism.  It is easy to see how those who possess more of a “growth mindset” will be more likely to carry traits of resiliency like patience, compassion, gratitude, and letting go. Those that have a growth mindset tend to bounce back from challenging events more effectively.

Having a fixed mindset can derail you from achieving your goals. It will show up in many ways throughout your journey. I have had several coaching sessions about this topic but here is an example of a fixed mindset and how it can be detrimental to your healthy lifestyle journey. 

It's not easy to be physically active in society today. We have the convenience attitude when it comes to most tasks because we feel like we are saving time. So things that could actually aide us in being physically active we will avoid simply because it doesn't fit perfectly into our schedule and it may be challenging to add anything to it. You would be surprised how much your daily activity stepped up if you did tasks like cleaning your car by hand, cleaning your home without the assistance of a maid service, washing dishes by hand, and walking to get the mail instead of stopping by it in our cars on the way home. 

Resiliency is extremely important because obstacles will always arise in an effort to derail you from your goals.  For example, I am a health coach and my job is to help clients achieve their fitness goals.  Some of these include increasing strength, losing weight, gaining lean muscle, and improving health in an effort to get off medication. I am confident in my abilities to design a well-researched, high-level program to help them get there. The actual implementation of the program presents its own set of problems. Some clients have young children to take care of, while others have most of their time consumed by work and travel.  While children, work, and travel all demand unique attention, none of them allow my clients to spend more time in the gym working on their health and wellness.  Hence, these variables, while very important in life, are often obstacles that get in the way of one achieving their goals.

I would be remiss in my coaching duties to allow my clients to continue to let these variables derail them from making themselves healthier.  Therefore, we plan around these other demands in search of what I like to call, “areas of opportunity”.  Many people tend to dwell on all of the time they don’t have to exercise or prepare food (fixed mindset) as opposed to the time that they do have (growth mindset).  I love to ask the right questions and have a conversation about identifying areas of opportunity for people to commit to their health and wellness goals.  I promise there's always a way to create time to hit your goals. You may just have to be very strategic in how you go about it. Once you identify this, you can set up an action plan to implement into your program in a more manageable and realistic fashion.

But you have to make the mental shift to a growth mindset and be resilient when problems present themselves. Because they will, just wait. 

Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

Have you ever felt like making a change was hard unless you were forced to make it. It seems the more we need to make a significant change, the harder it is to get going on it may be. 

Striving to do things differently is energizing and difficult at the same time.  An idea for a fresh start occurs to us and we revel in excitement at first. The commitment to it can even feel good too. But then comes the difficulty of following through. And this is where the rubber hits the road. Quitting a smoking habit is going to be hard. But improving your lifestyle so you can see your kids grow old is something that you are passionate about. But that won't be enough. It's a lifelong commitment and you have to have all your ducks in a row. In order for you to be successful at quitting you have to manage stress a different way, and approach your day to day with some flexibility. Because initial excitement will wear off. 

Some people do not like to make health and fitness goals because it makes them have to step outside of their comfort zone. It's easier to stay the same. The effort to lose weight, change a unhealthy addiction, or be discipline about going to the gym can be challenging. 

What makes us change then?

It turns out that some people make changes when they have to, not when they want to. Of course this isn't always true. But making the uncomfortable decisions on a daily basis to bring about change can be a daunting task. It’s just that the changes we most desire are hard, involving emotional responses that can be tricky to identify and challenging to unseat. We often need urgency to bring about change. For example, let's say you had a doctors appointment to get blood work done. The results came back showing that you now have Type II Diabetes. Your doctor informs you of all the health implications that come along with the illness and you are now scared straight. You immediately go home and start to examine what you haven’t wanted to see.  You realize all the mindless snacking you partake in, the liters of soda you consume daily, and the unhealthy choices you make on a consistent basis. You immediately start to put forth the effort to bring about change. A crisis often supplies the right kind of push and readiness. Necessity is a more powerful motivator than preference, willpower, or even a loved one’s begging. That is a sad truth. 

My father would always tell me to do things that make me uncomfortable until they become easy or comfortable to do. Some people may have the capacity to force themselves over the hump of deep hesitancy, but most of us take the path of least resistance day by day.

Everyone has the capacity to become mentally stronger.  And everyone has room for improvement. Changing the way you think, feel, and behave isn't an easy task. It takes dedication and commitment.

Just like going to the gym a few times won't make you physically strong, developing your mental muscle is also a lifelong process. Mental strength takes years to build and a lifetime to maintain.

Not everyone wants to improve their lives. And that's OK. Some people are afraid of the hard work, and others doubt their ability to create positive change. But if you want to challenge yourself to become the best you can, increasing your mental muscle will take you to the next level. I've seen it early in my career of 1 on 1 personal training, through virtual coaching with my clients through WebFit, and in my own life.

Your mind can be your biggest asset or your worst enemy. When you learn how to train it well, you can accomplish incredible feats. But it starts with doing what is hard on a regular basis. 

Philosopher William James said, “Do at least two things every day that you don’t want to do, for the very reason that you don’t want to do them.” 

Practice being uncomfortable.