Are you mentally fit?
You see things and you say "Why?" But I dream things that never were, and I say "Why not?". George Bernard Shaw
When I started as a personal trainer in London in the mid-nineties it was all about physically training my clients to be fitter, stronger and in better shape. I used equipment with names like ‘hip abductor’, ‘lat pulldown’, ‘pec deck’ and something weird called a ‘torso rotator’.
They were all designed to get people better-looking muscles by working one muscle group at a time, and it took (I thought at the time) a highly qualified trainer to show people how best to use these types of exercise machines. Otherwise (we told them), they wouldn’t get the best results and even worse they could injure themselves.
It was a time where a personal trainer told clients what to do, without really getting to understand what was best for the client. If a client wasn’t willing to do what they were told then they lacked the motivation needed to achieve the results they wanted. It was their fault, not the personal trainer’s.
A client told the trainer what their goal was, and the trainer told the client the best way to achieve that goal based on what the trainers’ knowledge was with regards to exercise and nutrition (which at best, was more than the clients, but was still very limited).
A programme was designed and a prescription was given on how best to follow the programme. Not once was the client consulted as to whether they felt the programme was right for them or not. As trainers, we asked the client to fit in with our view on what it would take, as it wasn’t for us to fit in with the client’s views. We were the professionals in this relationship and we knew what was best.
For any coaching and client relationship to work, both parties have to work to bring together their skills & expertise in achieving the best results.
Move forward 20 years and how different things are now in the world of health coaching. We now have terms like ‘client-centred programming’ and ‘personalised coaching’ and quite rightly so.
The most important partner in a coaching relationship is the client, not the coach. No matter how good the coach is. The coach is there for the client, not the other way round.
The flip side of this better coaching approach is there is more responsibility on behalf of the client.
If they have set the goal and they have expressed what they feel is needed to be done to achieve it, it is then the role of the coach to educate and support them and hold them to account when it comes to what is needed.
No longer can someone put the responsibility of their goals solely on someone else, if they truly want to achieve long-lasting results.
Taking personal responsibility for a lot of people isn’t an easy or comfortable thing to do. It can end up highlighting their lack of motivation, desire to change and perseverance to keep doing what they know they should be doing.
So when setting health goals, one should ask how mentally fit they are, to do what is mentally required to be physically fitter.
The Power Of Habits In Achieving Long-Term Results
“Superlative performance is really a confluence of dozens of small skills or activities, each one learned or stumbled upon, which have been carefully drilled into a habit and they are fitted together in a synthesized whole. There is nothing extraordinary or superhuman in any one of those actions; only the fact that they are done consistently and correctly, and all together, produce excellence.”
― from "Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance”
The way I have found as a health coach to be the best way to achieve long-term health results is doing something correctly over and over again. There is no quicker way to achieve results that you can maintain over a long period of time.
When anyone asks me what it will take to achieve a particular health goal, I always reply “how long do you want to achieve the goal for?”. In other words, after achieving the goal, how long do they want to sustain the result.
Their answer tells me if they are willing to keep doing the habits and behaviours needed to achieve the goal after the goal has been achieved.
This is why every year new and wonderful health and fitness crazes come and go. They ask people to follow habits and behaviours the majority of us can’t maintain long-term. Yes, they might produce results but never long-lasting. Hence why a new one keeps popping up.
The reason why so many people buy into these short-term health fixes is down to the mindset most people have when it comes to their health. Instant gratification is a powerful pull.
‘Feel and look great in 7 days’, ‘Get the body you want without breaking a sweat’, ‘Follow our 28-day body transformation plan for the body of your dreams’.
These are just some of the promises people are offered. Get what you want now, without changing who you are.
The difference between people who achieve health success long-term and people who are always chasing the next best thing in health and fitness is their willingness to stick to something for the long run.
Recent psychology studies have found that the one common skill that all long-term successful people have is their ability not to give up and persevere when things get tough or not necessarily go to plan.
Their mindset is one that has been based on past experiences and accepting that every time they failed they worked on finding the right way of doing it.
They also understand that any journey worth taking requires they right type and amount of support, along with being held to account so they do what they say they were going to do.
Steps To Life-Long Good Health
So if you are someone who is looking to not just achieve results with regards to health and fitness, but wants to maintain any results for the rest of your life, then I suggest following these steps:
Step One: Take personal responsibility. Accept that whatever result you achieve is down to your actions and no-one else’s. Only when you take personal responsibility will you truly get your head down, work hard and persevere for the long-term. Remember, your health is either getting better or getting worse. It never stays the same. You choose which direction it goes in.
Step Two: Focus on the journey more than the destination. Don’t get ahead of yourself and focus on the actions you have to repeat every day. It is easy to always focus on what the results you want and not on what it will take to achieve it. First things first. Focus on the first action, then the next, then the next, etc. Only when you have completed all the actions needed will you have what you want.
Step Three: Don’t attempt to do it on your own. Any long-term results of any value are not possible without the right type or amount of support. Simply, the world will always get in the way. Just because you want to achieve something, doesn’t mean the rest of the world thinks the same.
Let people around you know how important your goals are. How they help you and therefore help them. Surround yourself with people who also want to be successful and know how to be successful. Learn from the best to become the best you can be.
Health and fitness has come a long way over the last 20 years, but there are some things that work no matter how many years have passed. If you don’t have the right mindset or are not willing to put in the hard work and persevere, then you will always be chasing the next health craze and wondering why some people succeed but you never do.
There is only one true way to success. Accept it and get on board. It’s your health at stake. No-one else’s.