The Psychology Of Fitness

Mindsets, Body Types and Everything In Between
Three Rules of Fitness Success

Three Rules of Fitness Success

Although I put “fitness” in the title, I feel as though these three rules are needed for success in any endeavor.  They are fairly simple to verbalize, but not always “simple” to actualize.  Within these three rules, are the only things I ask from my clients.  Within them, you’ll see every success with body transformations along with every failure.  In other words, there isn’t any success or failure where these three rules don’t apply.

Some people might be really good at one or two of these rules, but the closer you can get to giving 100% to all three of these rules, the better your odds of success.  By the end of this post, you should know your weak link within these three rules and know where to start to m0ve you closer to your goals.

Rule # 1 – Show Up

Showing up is about half of the success in any endeavor and most failures are simply because people don’t “show up.”  If you want a job, you have to show up for the interview.  If you want to change your body, you have to “show up” to the workout (even if you workout at home).

In addition to that, if you want to lose weight and keep it off, then you have to “show up” to your meals.  Picking things up on the run may sustain you, but rarely does it lead to a lasting success.  To plan your meals beforehand, and then sit down and eat them is a huge undertaking for a lot of individuals.  As such, this one thing of “showing up” prepared for your meals is usually the make or break factor for a lot of people looking to lose weight.

So what are the most common barriers to “showing up” when it comes to fitness?  It’s the stories we tell ourselves:
“I don’t have the time.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“I just can’t exercise.”
“I know I should, but it’s so hard.”

Along with a million other things.  We all do it…every single one of us.  I have told myself stories in the past such as, “If the workout isn’t hard, then it isn’t worth it.”  That kept me from the gym every time I was feeling too tired.  My story became, “Well I’m too tired to go hard, so I’ll just go tomorrow.”  And although it sounds like a good story, it’s not the truth.

I’ve discussed, showing up in the “Consistency is Key” article and it still stands.  For me the most important thing you can do is to simply “show up.”  Do that and you’ve overcome the biggest hurdle.  Showing up when you don’t feel your best, when you’re tired and beat up, or after you’ve bothered your shoulder/knee/hip/insert body part is the key to success.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change your plan, but it does mean that showing up shows a strength of mind that can’t be built by any other method.

This is also the key to your diet.  You wouldn’t show up to your workout in work slacks and heels and expect a good workout, yet most people will show up to their meals, completely unprepared, expecting a good meal.  If you want to control cravings, then you have to eat – mostly protein and vegetables and natural foods.  If you do this, then you start to get control over your brain again.  If you want to lose weight, then you have to have a game plan as to what is acceptable and what isn’t.  I’ve talked about those game plans in the posts of the 7 Principles for Permanent Fat Loss.

Rule # 2 – Do Your Best

This second rule I think is extremely important (ok, so I think all 3 rules are important).  Showing up is definitely important and for most people, showing up is more of a mental battle than a physical one.  Moving past any stories we make up while showing strength of mind when we “really don’t want to” is absolutely huge.  But it’s this second rule that is vitally important for helping move you closer to your goal.

For instance, some days you might not feel well and on those days, showing up and doing a couple of basic exercises is the “best” you could do that day.  Other days, you feel like a million bucks and can push to your utmost limits.  Your “Best” will fluctuate day to day (and within days), but if you can consistently put forth your best, then you know you’re doing everything you’re capable of doing, at that moment.

There’s a quote from the Friday Night Lights movie that sums this concept up in great fashion:

 “To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there…(the) truth is that you did everything you could – there wasn’t one more thing that you could’ve done. Can you live in that moment?

If you know that you did everything you could, that you gave your best, then what else is there for you to expect?  Nothing.  If you show up and do your best, then you are well on your way to living the life you want to lead.  It may not be easy and in fact, may be a pain in the ass, but most things worth having aren’t “easy.”

Lots people are scared to do their best though.  If they do their best and fail, then what?  What does it mean for them?  Instead, they hide behind apathy and procrastination.  The “I don’t really care” attitude when nothing could be further from the truth.  They care, and care so much, that they’re scared to give their best.  This is because it would take a true commitment from them and if they failed, that failure would sting.

I see this apathy, less in the gym, but more when it comes to eating and drinking.  People won’t stick to “their best” when it comes to eating around friends and family.  Sure, food should be enjoyed with friends and family, but not at the expense of giving your best towards your goals.  People will often feel “obligated” to eat foods they really don’t want to because their friends and family say they “need to live a little.”  This is another story that may sound good on the surface, but is really nothing but a veiled attempt to get others to feel comfortable for their laxness with eating.

This may sound like I’m a food-czar, but the truth is, I probably enjoy food more than the next person.  The difference is I know when I can and should be enjoying food and when I’m just giving in to other’s whims.  If it’s your choice for a meal you want, then by all means, enjoy your food.  If, on the other hand, you’re eating something to make someone else feel comfortable, you might have to re-evaluate that choice.

Doing your best means you’re doing your best for what you truly want and can stand up to some discomfort.  That discomfort can come from the physical aspect of working out, to the social awkwardness of turning down a drink or food.  Neither will lead to your demise, but it also won’t feel natural.

Remember, “Every ‘Yes’, must be defended by a thousand ‘No’s’.”

That means, for every goal you have, that you truly commit to and give your best towards, has to be defended by every other possibility out there.  In other words, you have to know your priorities and live by them.  If you want to become a doctor, you might have to give up your other hopes of being a lawyer, stock broker, astronaut and soccer player. You might have to give up nights when you would want to go out with friends.  You might have to give up living in a certain area for a little bit, until schooling is over.  You might have to give up reading for fun and keeping up with your shows.  But at the end, you’re living your priority.

And that is what doing your best entails – living your priorities, with your best for that day.

Rule # 3 – Accept and Adjust

This last step is the difference maker for being able to stay consistent, and since consistency is the key to success, it is vitally important.

The first part of this rule is acceptance of the results, as they are.  Acceptance is really made up of two parts:

A – Accepting Reality as it is – Many people want to explain away or justify any results that don’t line up with their expectations.  The key though is to accept reality as it is.  If you don’t, then you will rarely have the impetus to make the changes you need to make.  If you can accept reality as it is, then you can start to come up with a game plan to do the things necessary to move you closer to your goals.

No one wants to see bad results.  If you show up to all your classes, study as much as you can and get an ‘F’ on a test, it’s demoralizing.  A lot of people will either give up at this point or blame it on outside circumstances such as the professor being too hard, etc.  These factors may have a grain of salt to them, but giving up shouldn’t be an option.  Making adjustments should be.  Maybe you need a tutor, to go to office hours, a new style of studying, etc.

The same can be said when you’re going to the gym and not seeing the results you want.  The solution isn’t to quit, but instead to either change your expectations or make adjustments to your plan.

B – Not taking it personally – This one is intertwined with the first aspect of acceptance.  No matter the result, positive or negative, you have to realize, that it’s just that – a result.  If it was something positive, the question becomes, “What did I do right?”  If it was something negative, the question becomes, “What needs to change to get the results I want?”  Sometimes, our expectations are unrealistic and sometimes it’s our methods, but either way know that it’s just a result.  Accept it and continue, either through making adjustments or focusing on making it more efficient.

In Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If there’s a line that sums up my thoughts on acceptance:

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;

There will be times when everything will be going your way and you feel on top of the world (the Triumph).  Accept it, enjoy it, but keep doing what you have to do.  The same can be said when you’re going through the opposite.  Sometimes everything seems to be working against you, nothing is falling into place and you’re not catching a lucky break (the Disaster).  You feel overwhelmed and stressed.  At that point, you do the same thing:  accept it, make adjustments, but keep doing what you have to do.  It’s just that simple.

For example, if after a few weeks of hard work, you step on the scale and it’s barely budged, what do you do?  Accept it, make adjustments and keep showing up and doing your best.  And you keep making adjustments (change the intensity of your workouts, style of workouts, change your eating, etc), until you get the results you want.  That’s all you can do.  Giving up will never move you towards your goals and every method you’ll use (adjust to) just highlights these three rules in action.

Three Rules for Weight Loss Success in One Sentence

In the end, if you did nothing else, but followed these three rules when it came to your workouts and eating, you would be well on your way to the health and aesthetics that you’re looking for.   When it’s all said and done, one sentence  contains everything you need to succeed in fitness and life:

Show up, Do your Best, Accept your results and make adjustments based on those results.

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