First, let’s start with a few examples we are all familiar with to set the tone. For years, viewers have tuned in to weight loss reality show The Biggest Loser to watch morbidly obese people drop enormous amounts of weight by being put through the rigors of exercise and healthy eating by celebrity trainers. What I have experienced as a personal trainer from clients who watch the show is twofold:
1. The perception that weight loss is easy is perpetuated by watching contestants participate in a highly controlled and overly-produced television show.
2. Contestants on the show are held to very low-calorie diets and exercise for hours each day. Yes, I said hours; not minutes like the majority of exercisers do three to four times a week.
A recent study has shown that the majority of contestants on the show have regained as much as 80% of their weight within a few years of their appearance. That should be a pretty astounding fact because the perception the show gives is that these people have changed their lives forever and now eating healthy and exercising is super simple. Due to the magic of TV, fat loss results are their new norm. What we are seeing now is that the perception is not reality.
Another example that illustrates the point that perception isn’t always reality is network marketing. I am not bashing the concept of a home-based business but I am questioning the ease at which network marketers, especially the super successful ones, promote how fast you can make money selling supplements, cooking utensils, candles, smell good items, etc. We see pictures of vacations, working by the pool, attending sporting events and other attractive lifestyles that make us want to achieve the same. There is only one problem: If you find a person who is making a great living running a home-based business, rest assured they have worked their buttocks off to get there. They did not obtain their wealth lying by the pool, attending sporting events, taking lavish vacations or getting rid of their day job.
It took years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice yet the perception that sells is that sales are easy. Trust me. It isn’t. These folks work hard but the perception is that this lifestyle magically happens.
Recently, I worked with a young woman who since the beginning of 2016 has made exercise a major part of her life. The reason she came to IWC is because after two solid months of grueling workouts, she hadn’t seen the fat loss results she expected. Her perception was she was broken, a lost cause or somehow unable to lose body fat. Here are a few things we did for her:
We revamped her workout to include High Intensity Interval Training to help her boost metabolism and blast fat
We developed a strength routine that had purpose. Not just a bunch of exercises tossed together
We prescribed a cardiovascular routine that alternated moderate and higher intensity sessions
We broke down the data from her My Fitness Pal account to ensure she is eating the right amounts of protein, carbs and fat and getting enough calories on a daily basis
And after four more weeks, she still didn’t get the results that she expected. Her perception was she was a failure and she became frustrated. She couldn’t be more wrong. In less than a week she had received three unsolicited compliments about how much weight she had lost by three different people. Well, one suggested her booty was somewhat rocking but we’ll stick to the fat loss narrative. Still,
because the scale hadn’t moved, she was disappointed and her motivation plummeted.
In the six weeks we have worked with this young woman she has:
1. Increased her muscular strength and endurance (without experiencing an overuse injury or set back)
2. Boosted her cardiovascular fitness
3. Learned how to select foods that are lower in sugar, high in protein and clean
4. Built multiple tiny habits that have not uprooted her life or caused her to feel overwhelmed
What do you think would happen if she were to start looking at all of the things she has accomplished in 10 weeks and focus less on the things that haven’t happened yet? Would her perceptions about her success and self-worth change? Absolutely they would! In fact, that is my newest mantra for this client. I told her in no uncertain terms I want her to own the gym when she goes to exercise. I want a little
swagger and I want her to strut a little bit. When she makes a good food choice I want her to visualize those nutrients feeding the muscles and fat melting away. I am asking her to change her perception about herself and her situation to one where she focuses more on what she has accomplished and less on what she hasn’t.
At Integrated Wellness Concepts we have a simple saying: Change the mindset change the man (or woman). When you perceive things differently your mindset will change. Change your mindset and you will change your belief in your ability to wear that swimsuit with confidence, run that 5K or lower that pesky cholesterol number. Once you believe it, the gym no longer seems foreign. Eating healthy, clean food is no longer a punishment; it’s a welcomed blessing. All of sudden, you pay less attention to the scale and more attention to the lifestyle, for it is the lifestyle that will produce the result you seek. You will bust your butt to get results. There is no easy way out but it won’t matter. Change your perception and you will change your results. Or maybe a better way to state it would be change your perception and results will come.
How do you stay positive? Leave a comment below and let us know how you have changed your perceptions about exercise, nutrition and fat loss.